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30 Years After Live Aid: Rewatching the New Wave Performances 0

Thanks to Chris Rooney for contributing this chronological remembrance of the new wave acts that performed at Live Aid, the supersized charity concert that took place in Philadelphia and London on July 13, 1985.

Seven months after Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof and Ultravox singer Midge Ure had convened Britain’s and Ireland’s top pop artists to record a single to benefit Ethiopian famine relief, the duo staged the largest globally televised charity concert of its time — a feat they managed to pull off in 10 short weeks. No sooner had Boy George  proposed the idea to Geldof did he and Ure set to work planning the dueling shows at Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, along with smaller related gigs in Australia, Japan, Austria, Holland, Yugoslavia, Russia, West Germany and Norway. It is estimated that over a billion viewers in 110 nations watched or listened to the concert event that day. In the end, it raised more than $125 million in famine relief for Africa.

Numerous new wave acts were on the bill that day, from the organizers’ own bands to Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, Howard Jones, Spandau Ballet, Adam Ant, and more. Equally as interesting is the list of acts that didn’t perform that day; Tears For Fears, for example, were a no-show in Philadelphia after they, Boy George and Culture Club, and other well-known acts were included in the initial promotional material for the Philadelphia concert. To make it up, Tears For Fears later did a re-recording of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” as “Everybody Wants To Run The World” for Geldof’s Sport Aid charity event in 1986. Other bands such as Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Talking Heads and The Smiths were among many to turn down requests to appear. Depeche Mode wasn’t even invited and band member Alan Wilder said at the time: “I doubt very much that we would have accepted the invitation, had we been asked. My personal view is that giving to ‘chariddy’ should be a totally private gesture, out of which no personal gain should be made. Inevitably, nearly all the artists who took part in Live Aid achieved a considerable rise in record sales and being the cynic I am, I wonder just how much of the profit gained from those sales actually ended up going to Ethiopia.”

With Prince Charles and Princess Diana in attendance at Wembley Stadium, the music festivities kicked off at noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Sixteen hours later in Philadelphia, Live Aid had drawn to a close. Here are just some of the highlights from new wave acts that played that day along with their set lists from the day’s fully-loaded, breakneck schedule.

Live from Wembley Stadium in London…

12:19pm – 12:35pm GMT: The Style Council performed “You’re The Best Thing”, “Big Boss Groove”, “Internationalists” and “Walls Come Tumbling Down”
Paul Weller’s Style Council lyrics were becoming more overtly political than his earlier work with The Jam namely attacking Thatcherite principles prevalent in the 1980s. About this time, he and Billy Bragg formed Red Wedge, a collective of like-minded musicians interested in engaging young people with politics in general, and the policies of the Labour Party. The Red Wedge collective would go on to do several concerts in 1986.

 

12:44pm – 12:59pm GMT: The Boomtown Rats performed “I Don’t Like Mondays”, “Drag Me Down”, “Rat Trap” and “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow”
Co-organizer Bob Geldof and his bandmates all performed on the Band Aid charity single and here again before splitting up for good the following year.

 

1:01pm – 1:05pm GMT: Adam Ant performed “Vive Le Rock”
Ant was the only person that day to play new material, everyone else played their most well-known crowd pleasers. He later criticized the event and expressed regrets about playing it, saying: “Doing that show was the biggest fucking mistake in the world. Knighthoods were made, Bono got it made, and it was a waste of fucking time. It was the end of rock ‘n’ roll.”

 

1:17pm – 1:34pm GMT: Ultravox performed “Reap the Wild Wind,” “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes,” “One Small Day,” and “Vienna”
Co-organizer Midge Ure and Ultravox performed together one more time before drummer Warren Cann was sacked from the band. Ure’s good fortune continued later in the year as he scored a #1 solo hit with “If I Was.”

 

1:46pm – 2:03pm GMT: Spandau Ballet performed “Only When You Leave”, “Virgin”, “True” and “Gold”
Ever the style mavens, the guys from Spandau dressed to the hilt while on stage even if that meant a leather overcoat on Tony Hadley. At least they didn’t have to suffer through the summertime heat that Philadelphia experienced that day. When Madonna took to the stage at JFK Stadium, despite the 95 °F (35 °C) temperature, she proclaimed “I’m not taking shit off today!” referring to the recent release of early nude photos of her in Playboy and Penthouse magazines.

 

2:22pm – 2:40pm GMT: Nik Kershaw performed “Wide Boy,” “Don Quixote,” “The Riddle,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Good”
Kershaw was at the peak of his popularity while performing four of his then-recent tunes.

 

3:49pm – 3:54pm GMT: Howard Jones performed “Hide and Seek”
Just HoJo on a grand piano. Simple, elegant and unpretentious.

 

4:08pm – 4:26pm GMT: Bryan Ferry with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd on guitar performed “Sensation,” “Boys And Girls,” “Slave To Love,” and “Jealous Guy” Since Roxy Music had disbanded in 1983, Ferry took the stage as a solo artist, performing both Roxy material and new stuff like the title track of his album, Boys & Girls.

5:19pm -5:39pm GMT: U2 performed “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Bad” (with snippets of “Satellite of Love”, “Ruby Tuesday”, “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Walk on the Wild Side”)
Probably only second to Queen in terms of stealing the show that day in London, U2 finally graduated to full-fledged arena rockers. The band had to scrap playing “Pride (In the Name of Love)” due to their 14-minute rendition of “Bad” and Bono’s impulsive decision to pull a female concertgoer out of the crowd to dance with. After Live Aid, Bono would continue with his activism, organizing and playing in several benefit concerts and was named Time Person of the Year in 2005 for his humanitarian work.

 


<7:23pm – 7:41pm GMT: David Bowie with Thomas Dolby on keyboards performed “TVC 15,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Modern Love,” and “Heroes”

Unable to fill the spot that was reserved for him at the Band Aid recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” — Paul Young filled in for him — Bowie made up for it with a mix of older material and new.

 

9:57pm – 10:02pm GMT: An all-star chorus of performers sang “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” for the London finale
Seven months after the song was recorded and debuted, it capped the night in London with an all-star line-up on stage that included David Bowie, Bob Geldof, George Michael, Midge Ure, Bono, Freddie Mercury, Sting and Paul Weller.

Meanwhile at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia…

2:10pm – 2:21pm GMT: The Hooters performed “And We Danced” and “All You Zombies”
Bob Geldof has publicly stated that he didn’t see the little-known local band, The Hooters, as a high-profile band suitable for Live Aid, but that they were forced on him by Bill Graham, the legendary American concert promoter for the Philly venue.

 

7:05pm – 7:21pm GMT: Simple Minds performed “Ghost Dancing”, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” and “Promised You a Miracle”
Simple Minds were the first band to be approached by Bob Geldof to play the Philadelphia leg of Live Aid.

 

7:41pm – 7:56pm GMT: The Pretenders performed “Time The Avenger”, “Message Of Love,” “Stop Your Sobbing,” “Back On The Chain Gang” and “Middle Of The Road”
Chrissie Hynde and her band followed right after her then-husband Jim Kerr and his band, Simple Minds. They had married just the year before.

 

10:39pm – 10:56pm GMT: The Cars performed “You Might Think”, “Drive”, “Just What I Needed” and “Heartbeat City”
Their performance came on the heels of their most successful album, Heartbeat City, in 1984. Three of the songs they played that day were off that record.

 

11:42pm – 11:52pm GMT: The Power Station performed “Murderess” and “Get It On”
Working on other solo projects and not seeing the need to tour with just one album, Robert Palmer opted out of Live Aid and was replaced with Michael des Barres.

 

12:21am – 12:33am GMT: Thompson Twins performed “Hold Me Now” and “Revolution”
Covering The Beatles’ “Revolution,” they got a little help from their friends Madonna, Nile Rodgers and Steve Stevens.

 

1:46am – 2:08am GMT: Duran Duran performed “A View To A Kill”, “Union of the Snake”, “Save a Prayer” and “The Reflex”
Duran Duran held the top spot on the American charts that week with their theme to the newest James Bond film. Simon Le Bon described the bum falsetto note that he hit singing “A View to a Kill” (2:51 in the video) as the most humiliating moment of his career. Live Aid would be the original line-up’s last live performance together until 2003.

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Live From New York: It’s New Wave on Saturday Night Live! 0

Our friend Chris Rooney remembers SNL as a new wave-friendly playground…

If you weren’t lucky enough to have cable television in the early 1980s — or a cable provider that offered MTV showing round-the-clock music videos or TBS SuperStation, which had Nighttracks that did so to a lesser degree — then your chances to see your favorite new wave acts on the Big Three Networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) were pretty slim.

NBC aired The Midnight Special from 1972 to 1981. The 90-minute concert program followed the Friday night edition of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, but the show was pretty thin when it came to introducing upcoming post-punk or new wave acts. The time slot was later replaced with Friday Night Videos (1983-2000), NBC’s answer to the by-then-popular MTV.

ABC’s Saturday Night Live sketch comedy knockoff show, Fridays was shortlived (1980-1982), but it did showcase acts like The Boomtown Rats, The Cars, Devo, The Jam, The Pretenders, The Plasmatics, Split Endz and The Tubes. Meanwhile, Solid Gold, that weekly music countdown was a syndicated show usually found on minor or independent TV channels. However, performers on the show had to lip synch their songs.

The stalwart through this whole era leading up to the present is Saturday Night Live. Created in 1975, each week between various live comedy sketches, a music guest, either a solo act or a band, performed one or two songs live. Due to the shows edgy humor and younger demographic, big named acts rolled through the doors of Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Center to perform to a nationwide audience. Unlike NBC’s other big late night franchise, The Tonight ShowSNL stayed up with the times and featured many hot acts.

For many American teens, SNL was — and is — a way to see their favorite artists play live on stage. The rising popularity of the home VCR allowed one to record the show to watch later since the musical guest usually didn’t go on until well past midnight. Being a live television show for the last 40 years, SNL has always courted controversy and not just from its Not-Ready-For-Primetime cast. Whether it was Elvis Costello intentionally changing his choice of song 30 seconds into his performance, or Sinéad O’Connor ripping up a photo of the pope, or a really drunk Replacements mouthing obscenities while playing, the studio heads always have had to keep one finger on the five-second delay button.

NBC Universal’s tight rein on the broadcasts make it hard (read: impossible) to post and find online many of the musical guest performances during the late 1970s and early 80s — acts like Devo, Duran Duran, the Go-Go’s, Sparks, Men At Work, Joe Jackson, Squeeze, Denys Midnight Runners, The Motels — the list goes on and on.. But I *was* able to find one postable performance. Enjoy:
David Bowie, “The Man Who Sold the World, December 15, 1979 (Season 5, Episode 7) 

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Band Aid Insider: The Artists Remember “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” 2

When Jonathan and I were making the list of songs to include in Mad World: The Book, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” wasn’t on it. After all, it was a novelty hit (albeit a huge one). But as we progressed with our interviews, we realized how important Band Aid was to new wave. For one, it was a song that brought so many of the pivotal artists in our book together. But it also signaled the end of the era: After Band Aid in 1984, the new wave party quickly came to an end. It only seemed fitting that we include “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” as the final chapter.

Then, this past summer, after about book came out, I began working on a piece about Band Aid pegged to its 30th anniversary. Though many of the artists were eager to reminisce about “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and proud of all of the good that it’s done, I initially had trouble getting Bob Geldof to talk. Apparently he had had a moratorium on the subject for years. After months of chasing him down through various managers, publicists, and friends, an interview was finally scheduled for late September…although on the morning of our chat, his rep emailed to say he still didn’t want to talk about Band Aid. That afternoon he relented, but when I finally got him on the phone, he let loose a barrage of expletives before allowing himself to recall a few of his favorite memories.

But, as Geldof told me, he never got into music to change the world. Nor did any of the other artists in Band Aid. That’s exactly what happened, though. And whatever one thinks of Geldof and his prickly nature, or the song’s controversial lyrics, or Band Aid II or III or IV, it cannot be disputed that the record altered the course of the 80s musical landscape and, more importantly, it saved lives. When I was in Los Angeles recently, my Uber driver told me that he was a victim of the Ethiopian famine who owes his life to the song.

Below is an “extended mix” of the Band Aid story that was published by Rolling Stone. Happy holidays, and have a peaceful and prosperous new year! —Lori Majewski

 

By Lori Majewski

Weeks before Thanksgiving, those commercial-free holiday-music marathons are already inescapable. Listen long enough and, along with repeat playings of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” and the bludgeoning of countless classics by Mannheim Steamroller, you’ll eventually be treated to that darkest of year-end chestnuts: Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

“The lyrics are bleak, but essentially so, and a welcome change from the bromides of mistletoe and the saccharine Christmas fare that is usually served up,” says Sting, recalling the charity single he recorded 30 years ago on November 25th as a member of the mostly-British supergroup.

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Nearly 40 artists — many of the biggest acts of the early eighties: Duran Duran, Culture Club, Wham!, even a then-bubbling-under U2 — converged that day at London’s Sarm Studios in response to a harrowing BBC report on the starving victims of the Ethiopian famine. And every year since, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” reminds us, as we gobble down our holiday dinners, that “there’s a world outside your window/it’s a world of dread and fear,” and, in its bluntest moment: “Tonight thank god it’s them instead of you.”

“It was a song written for a specific purpose: to touch people’s heartstrings and to loosen the purse strings,” says ex-Ultravox singer Midge Ure, the song’s producer and co-writer, along with Band Aid organizer Bob Geldof, frontman for the Boomtown Rats. “[The lyrics] had to be brutal. We were looking at television pictures of children spending five minutes trying to stand up.”

Their initial goal was for “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to claim the coveted Christmas number-one spot in the UK and raise about 100,000 British Pounds (approximately $160,000), Ure says — enough to fund a few shipments of food to Ethiopia and hopefully urge world leaders to take action. But the record became bigger than anyone could’ve imagined: According to recent figures from the Band Aid Charitable Trust, it’s made more than $190 million to date.

“Band Aid helped to keep, I would say, millions of people alive — certainly hundreds of thousands,” Geldof says. “It was deeply satisfying, because we [saw] an immediate benefit to a number of people.”

In stores just three days after it was recorded, the song became the fastest-selling single in Britain. A world-wide number one, it spent five consecutive weeks atop the UK singles charts (it got as high as number 13 in the U.S.) and was the country’s biggest-selling record until Elton John’s Princess Diana tribute version of “Candle in the Wind” in 1997.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” also opened the floodgates for myriad rocker-led charitable efforts — most notably USA for Africa’s “We are the World” and the bi-continental mega-concert Live Aid (also a Geldof and Ure production), along with Farm Aid and Hands Across America — consequently turning the Me Decade into the We Decade.

“Band Aid and Live Aid were a great contradiction to what people thought, another side of the decade,” says Boy George. “The eighties were about greed and excess — we were called Thatcher’s Children.”

“We got lumped in with Thatcherism because people thought we were living the high life,” says Simon Le Bon. (Though Duran Duran were the yacht-lounging, supermodel-squiring embodiment of eighties extravagance, he insists they weren’t Tories: “We absolutely hated Thatcher and her policies.”) One reason Le Bon and his contemporaries found Band Aid so attractive, he says, was because it “was this opportunity to do something that wasn’t about ‘me.’ It made you feel you could do something useful. We made young people believe they had some kind of power and were able to do something that did have an effect. Bono and Bob[’s philanthropy and activism], the Red foundation, the whole Drop the Debt campaign — it all started with Band Aid.”

Three decades on, the work of the Band Aid Charitable Trust — still led by Ure and chairman Geldof — is far from over. Thanks to the more than $480,000 in annual licensing fees and royalties from “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, the trust is able to provide consistent support to aid agencies on the ground in Ethiopia, Niger, and Chad.

“While it was modestly and ironically called a ‘band aid’ designed to react to an emergency, many of its projects were designed to be sustainable, and continue to this day to be useful,” says Sting.

In recent years, the trust has helped to fund “orphanages, medicines, blankets, fields of stuff,” according to Geldof, as well as larger projects, such as a gravity pipeline built by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to supply fresh water to Somali refugees in eastern Ethiopia. Meanwhile, $300,000 gained from the 2011 cast singalong on Fox’s Glee will likely go toward the building of a new school in the country.

Though at least one member of Band Aid is calling for a 2014 update (“Tell Bob we need to do it again,” says JT Taylor, whose Kool and the Gang was the sole American group on the record. “The world is a mess, man”), Ure says he and Geldof are thinking about moving on. “In the not too distant future, we’re going to have to hand this over to someone else,” says the Scot, who was made an officer of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth in 2005. (Geldof, an Irishman, was granted an honorary knighthood in 1986.) “We’re getting older. We have to think: How do we ensure that it carries on [and that the money is allocated] safely, securely, and with the same kind of passion about it that we have?”

For now, Geldof wouldn’t mind going a holiday season — or 20 — without having to hear the song that made it all possible.

“I associate it with the meat counter at my local supermarket,” he says. “Every time I arrive to buy the fucking turkey, I hear [hums the song’s intro]. The butcher looks at me with a little smile and I go, ‘Yeah, yeah. Give me the fucking turkey, dude’.”

Read on, as Band Aid alumni share stories about “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, what it was like that day in the studio — and why Bono had a problem with the song’s most dramatic, climactic line.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” began life as a rejected Boomtown Rats tune. 

Midge Ure: Bob turned up at my place with a guitar that looked as though he’d found it in a dump. It had hardly any strings on it. He started singing me this thing — it was obvious he was making it up as he went along. He sounded like a demented Bob Dylan. There was no melody, no structure, and every time he sang it, it sounded different. He presented me the idea for the lyrics, the “It’s Christmastime, there’s no need to be afraid.” My main contribution was changing “And there won’t be snow in Ethiopia this Christmas,” which doesn’t scan in anybody’s book. We changed that to “Africa,” and we wrote the middle section together: “Here’s to you, raise a glass for everyone,” which is the nod to the irony of [it being a] Christmas record.

 

Simon Le Bon thought “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was going to be a duet between him and Sting. 

Simon Le Bon:  I was the first one Bob called. He called out of the blue and said, “Simon, did you see the [BBC report on the Ethiopian famine] 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. Absolutely.” But it wasn’t sold to me as, “This is going to be a whole pile of musical legends”; it was, “You and Sting do it.” I thought I was going to get  half the song. I was a bit pissed off, because when I walked into [Sarm Studios] they’re already recording somebody else singing one of my lines! That took a while to sort of get my head around.

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Sting didn’t want to sing the lyric, “the bitter sting of tears.” 

Bob Geldof: Sting was moaning: “Do I have to sing that?” I said, “Yes, because it’s just a coincidence that the word sting is in it.” If you listen to the song, there’s a deep bitterness in Sting’s voice.

Sting: There’s a touch of irony there. When we had to dole out the lines to everyone else, it wasn’t an accident. I was still the King of Pain after all.

 

Bono didn’t want to sing his line — “Tonight thank god it’s them instead of you” — either.

Ure: Bono had a problem with it. He said, “Why would you say that?” That can be perceived as a brutal, unfeeling line.

Geldof:  He said, “Are you really sure that’s what you want to say?” And I said, “I’m really sure.” I went through it with him rather like a director goes through a line that the actor may not be happy with.

JT Taylor (Kool and the Gang): I hated that line. All these years, I thought I was the only only person who felt that. For me, it was the worst line in the whole song.

Ure:  But we’re not saying rather them than us; we’re saying how lucky we are that we don’t have to deal with that kind of extreme poverty. [After] Bob explained, Bono got it, and turned it into this magical moment on the record.

Geldof:  He just has a profound rage. If you listen to the way the emotion of the song scales up, that’s the big powerful explosion.That became a phenomenon, which none of us expected.

Ure:  I think he probably scared himself when he did it. He jumped way up an octave, and it was just astonishing — the sound that this little guy could radiate! It was like standing next to an opera singer. He did it twice but I think we kept the first [take].

 

Band Aid taught Bono that rock ’n’ roll can change the world.

Ure: The Band Aid process changed a lot of people; it changed him quite considerably. I saw a U2 concert three, four years ago, and they stopped the concert in the middle and said, “In the audience tonight…” And the spotlight came on me. Bono said, “Him and Bob taught me how to care.”

Geldof:  I pulled him into Band Aid. [U2] were young turks on the make; they hadn’t really crested yet. But I thought, He’s got such a voice… And then, Live Aid — they thought they blew it. It actually pushed them over the top. A few years later, he wanted to get involved in a related subject [i.e., the ONE Campaign, which fights extreme poverty and disease in Africa; Bono is a co-founder, Geldof an advisor]. We argue all the time; it’s kind of a good cop/bad cop [friendship]. He wants to give the world a big hug; I want to punch its lights out.

 

Boy George almost missed the recording session entirely.

Boy George: Culture Club had just done a show at Madison Square Garden, and I was in bed at the Plaza hotel. I got a call at 3 o’clock in the morning from Bob Geldof, whom I’d never met.

Ure:  We had to have him. So Bob woke him up in New York. George said, “Who’s there?” Bob said, “Every fucker but you. Get your ass on Concorde.” And he did — at his own expense, I might add.

Boy George:  When I arrived, around 8 o’clock in the evening, there was no time to practice or maybe have a go at the song to make sure you’re in the right key. It was literally: “You’re on!” I was thinking, “Oh my God, what’s going to come out of my mouth?”

Ure:  He turned up, and he said, “Can someone get me a brandy?” I had to press the intercom button and say, “No! We don’t have anyone here to go running about for you.” We didn’t have mountains of food, we didn’t have champagne, there was no sponsorship going on. It was incredibly basic.

Boy George:  I did pretty well, though. I remember Bob saying, “Oh George, you sound like a black lady — like a black mama!” I was like, “That’s what I’m aiming for, so thank you!”

 

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Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet arrived together, and a little worse for wear.

Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet): The night before we were in Germany on the piss with Duran, having a real good drink. By the morning, we were all pretty rough. We didn’t look great. I remember arriving back at Heathrow and someone said, “There’s all the press, there’s cameras out there, there’s about 400 screaming fans.” All of a sudden we’re all in the bathroom trying to make ourselves look presentable — you know, Nick Rhodes putting stacks of makeup on. I think we all put a bit of makeup on that day, actually.

Le Bon: I remember turning up in the car with a hangover. I did everything with a hangover in those days. I don’t think John [Taylor, Duran Duran] had been to sleep at all. But that was John. He just didn’t need much in those days because of chemical sleep.

 

The session was “like a carnival of celebrities,” according to Boy George.

Boy George: You could not move for famous people. I remember being in this room with a lot of people I hadn’t met before — Bono, Phil Collins — just thinking, “Everyone’s being quite well-behaved. People have really parked their egos for the evening.”

Sting:  It was a funny day, like a school reunion for truants. All of us had a lot in common but had rarely been in the same room together. There were no fights as I remember.

Le Bon: That was the first time I met Sting. He was very friendly, apart from when I said, “God, it’s really hot and sweaty in here,” and he told me not to do so many drugs.

Boy George: I had had a feud with Simon Le Bon, a bit of a confrontation in Paris, and we ended up walking into the studio arm in arm for the press.

Nick Rhodes:  We were among the first people to say yes, which I am proud of. Because I think it helped to say “I’ve got Duran Duran on board.” It was such a bizarre mix to have us, Spandau [Ballet] and [seventies British rockers] Status Quo. And you had Paul Weller, who I seem to remember arrived by bus.

Le Bon: My God, he was grumpy! Paul Weller wasn’t very friendly. He was very political…and [Duran Duran] as a band had always stayed clear of politics. But [Band Aid] wasn’t about politics, it was about saving lives. People wanted to have an effect, and that really is the line that joins me to Paul Weller. He wanted to help feed some kid in Africa, same as I did.

 

The “Feed the World” chorus was inspired by Lennon’s “War is Over” refrain.

Ure: There was a moment in the studio when Bob said, “We need something like the John Lennon thing, some anthemic thing we can sing along with.” Between the two of us, we came up with “Feed the world/let them know it’s Christmas time again.”

 

When Boy George first heard George Michael’s vocals, he thought it was Alison Moyet.

Boy George:  I remember hearing the voice after me and saying, “Who’s that? Who’s the girl?” and then being told it was George Michael. I said, “He sounds really camp.” Then I said, “But he is, though, isn’t he?” I was always trying to out George.

 

George Harrison advised on how to prevent Band Aid from turning into another financially questionable Concert for Bangladesh.

Ure:  The Concert [for Bangaldesh]…all of the money didn’t get where it was meant to go. It was spent on overhead and ad men. So [Harrison’s advice to Geldof] was, “Get yourselves good accountants.” We have the same accountants today who [ensure] we don’t spent a penny on anything. We’ve had no office, no secretaries. We begged, borrowed, and stole telephone lines, space, whatever we could. We didn’t spend a penny of Band Aid money on running Band Aid.

 

The record sleeve was designed by the same artist who did Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Ure: It’s a Peter Blake original. Peter Blake is kind of a British Andy Warhol. All those Victorian cut-outs, he pasted the whole thing together. And he did it for free.

 

Compared to USA For Africa’s meticulously-planned “We are the World,” “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was like Britain itself: cold, dark, and pessimistic.

Sting:  Ours is less slick, less polished and thrown together, with a spontaneous, make-do enthusiasm and passion that translates into heartfelt authenticity.

Rhodes:  The British one was very naive, and then suddenly America stormed in with “We are the World.” The title alone says something to you. It was a big, lush production. In many ways, it does define the differences between American music and British music at the time.

 

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” created the mold — and then broke it.

Boy George: If there was an extreme situation like [the famine in] Africa, I can imagine most of today’s artists being drawn into it. Whether it would have the same impact, I don’t know. It’s such a different time now, because we are bombarded with so much information. You tend to get neutralized by all the different tragedies and situations going on in the world.

Le Bon:  Yes, it could [happen]. Would it be the same? No. I think a lot of people would [think] “Oh, we need to do this because everybody else is doing it.” We’re going through a time where everybody’s scared of sticking their neck out. Not only do they not have politics in their songs, they don’t really have a lot of anything in their songs.

Taylor: When we were coming up, we had Motown, the Beatles and the Stones, Woodstock, Joe Cocker, and Sly Stone. We had Santana saying, “You can be an artist, and you can speak your voice.” Today, they only sign youths, beautiful-looking young girls, handsome young boys, and their world isn’t so much about the politics of life; it’s about, “Wow, I’m a star now.” It’s refreshing to hear someone singing about doing something other than shaking your ass.

 

 

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