Today in '84: Band Aid Records "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in One Day

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Larry Ellis/Express Newspapers/Getty Images

35 years ago on this day, Bob Geldof recruited the biggest acts of the 80's to create the supergroup Band Aid, a star-studded line up including Culture Club, Wham!, Bananarama, Duran Duran, and U2, to name a hefty few.

An ensemble of the hottest names in the British pop community, the clan of megastar musicians worked together in harmony to record a new charity single after BBC News broadcasted troubling footage of the severe Ethiopian famine, depicting heart-wrenching scenes of mothers nestling their starving babies, combing through the dirt for small grains of rice. Airing October 23, the news took the UK by storm, inciting an aftermath of celebrity charity and support for relief agencies throughout the UK.

"I was the first one Bob called, Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon recalled. "He called out of the blue and said, 'Simon, did you see the [BBC report] last night? We've got to do something.' I didn't see the program. He told me what it was about, and he said, "I have an idea. We should make a charity record. What do you think?' I said, 'Yes, mate.'"

Columbia Records

Record producer Trevor Horn donated his London studio for 24 hours to the cause, meaning Geldof had no more than a day to smooth out the logistics and crank out a perfected tune. With time being of the essence, Geldof and Midge Ure of the band Ultravox joined forces to write the song and record it in time. 

Geldof remembered, "It was lucky in a way, because I had already written this song [for my band, the Boomtown Rats], which I had provisionally called 'It's My World', and I knew it would be suitable if I just change date words a bit and called it 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' Midge, reliable as ever, sent down this tune which is the sort of Christmassy bit at the end and we married the two together."

With Ure's intention to create a song that would "touch people's heartstrings and to loosen the purse strings," and Geldof's activist efforts, the charity record was an unprecedented collective decision by musicians to help feed the world. 

On November 25, a cult-like assembly of superstars arrived at the studio - from the American band Kool & the Gang to drummer Phil Collins to Culture Club's Boy George and the song was recorded in a marathon 24-hour session. The following morning, Geldof, continuing his rally from his late night mixing the record, went on the radio to plug the finished single. 

On December 3, the song was officially released in the UK, and with the surrounding publicity and hourly promotion on BBC radio, the single not only shot to number one (in the UK), it also became the fastest selling track in the UK until Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" in 1997. Selling an astounding one million copies in its first week alone, the Christmas track went on to raise over $24 million while furthering hope for music-fueled charity, paving the path to Geldof and Ure's Live Aid concert the following year. 

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