111 11 months ago
111 11 months ago
"Do They Know It's Christmas?" is a song written in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in reaction to television reports of the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia. It was first recorded in a single day on 25 November 1984 by Band Aid, a supergroup put together by Geldof and Ure and consisting mainly of the biggest British and Irish musical acts at the time. The single was released in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1984 and aided by considerable publicity it entered the UK Singles Chart at number one and stayed there for five weeks, becoming the Christmas number one of 1984. The record became the fastest selling single in UK chart history, selling a million copies in the first week alone and passing three million sales on the last day of 1984, on the way to displacing Wings's "Mull of Kintyre" as the biggest-selling single of all time in the UK. It held this title until 1997 when it was overtaken by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997", released in tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales following her death. The original version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" has sold 3.8 million copies in the UK to date. In a UK-wide poll in December 2012, it was voted sixth on the ITV television special The Nation's Favourite Christmas Song.
The song was also a major success around the world, reaching number one in thirteen other countries outside the UK. In the US, the single fell short of the top ten in the Billboard Hot 100 due to a lack of airplay, but it had sold an estimated 2.5 million copies in the US by January 1985. Worldwide the single had sold 11.7 million copies by 1989. Geldof's cautious hope was that the single would raise £70,000 for Ethiopia, but "Do They Know It's Christmas?" raised £8 million within twelve months of release. The single's worldwide success in raising awareness and financial relief for the victims of the Ethiopian famine led the recording of several other charity singles in the UK and in other countries, such as "We Are the World" by USA for Africa. The song also led to various spin-off charity events, such as Comic Relief, and the Live Aid concert which would take place seven months later in July 1985.
"Do They Know It's Christmas?" was re-recorded three times: in 1989, 2004, and 2014. All the re-recordings were also charity records; the 1989 and 2004 versions also provide money for famine relief, while the 2014 version was used to raise funds for the Ebola crisis in West Africa. All three of these versions also reached number one in the UK, with the 1989 and 2004 versions also becoming the Christmas number ones for their respective years. The 2004 version of the song was also a UK million seller, with 1.8 million copies sold.