Bob Geldof, the force behind Band Aid

Do They Know Its Christmas?

1984 was the focus for George Orwell’s terrifying prophetic novel entitled 1984.

It is also remembered as the year ‘pop’ musicians worked together as a generous caring community.  At the time this group were known for individualism, outrageous dress and selfish behaviour.

A BBC news item by Michael Buerk, in 1984, reported in Ethiopia there was a famine of biblical proportions. It disturbed Bob Geldof and his partner Paula Yates, inspiring them to respond.

Bob called Midge Ure, the creative mind behind Ultravox.  Midge agreed to work on a song to raise funds for famine relief.  Bob persuaded top musicians, such as Sting and Phil Collins to help record it on Sunday 25 November 1984.  They planned to raise £70,000 for the relief effort, but in one year Do They Know Its Christmas raised £8 million.

America Responded

Bob and Midge admitted it was not a great song.  It did spawn the American single We Are The World, the massive Live Aid concert seven months later and the amazing ongoing Comic Relief.  The We Are The World project was initiated by Harry Belafonte, the long term activist and singer. This song was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie.  The project engaged America’s top singers from Bruce Springsteen to Diana Ross and Bob Dylan to Stevie Wonder. It raised a whopping $63 million.

In all, 45 of the country’s top musicians participated , while a similar number had to be turned away.  On the day they were  greeted by Stevie Wonder, who proclaimed that if the recording was not completed in one take, he and Ray Charles, both blind, would drive everybody home!

1984 was a fantastic year for joint working within the popular music community and it saved millions of lives .

Here is the video, how many singers can you name?

Notice the African American contribution…

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    • The issues of Big Brother’s control which Orwell foresaw when creating 1984, have manifested themselves in many ways since the year in question. CCTV, Facebook and the harvesting of data from our phones PC’s and mobile devices have all become economically important. Disappointingly the commitment from the musical community to lead wider society has only been fleetingly obvious – in Mandela Day and one off concerts, so perhaps we do need to return and learn some new lessons from 1984. I am sure the starving people of Yemen would appreciate our support, whether sung, offered in a new political commitment or revealed in pounds and pence.

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