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Fact #156355


Short story:

Organised by ex-Boomtown Rats leader Bob Geldof, nearly forty pop stars gather in SARM Studios, London, England, UK, Europe, under the name Band Aid, to record a charity single in aid of Ethiopian Famine Relief. The song is Do They Know It's Christmas, and the artists taking part include Sting, George Michael, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, and Bananarama and Phil Collins on drums.

Full article:

Midge Ure : I was up in Newcastle doing The Tube. Paula (Yates) was hosting it and Bob was there and suggested that we do something. But we had to write the record ourselves. Fifty per cent of the money goes in royalties to the writer, so we couldn’t do White Christmas, for instance.

I recorded the backing track at home, in the first studio I built, in Chiswick. I originally wanted Trevor Horn to produce it but we only had about three weeks to get the thing written, recorded and in the shops for Christmas. Trevor said he’d love to do it, but it would take him six weeks or whatever. So I said to Geldof, ‘Look, I’ve got my own facilities. Let’s do it here.’

So he came over to my studio and we recorded his bits of the song and tried to make some kind of sense of it all. I wrote some new bits for it, like the theme at the end, and I sat in the studio for four days recording a backing track and putting the thing together. In fact, I did all the instrumentation at home, except for Phil Collins drums.

Midge Ure : There’s a lonely-sounding bell on the intro that was a Yamaha DX-7 keyboard and the pad behind the intro is actually my voice. I’d recorded some choir-type voices with regular chord changes, a bit like Ultravox’s Hymn in a way, but not quite as grand.

Tears For Fears weren’t actually on the session but I sampled the drum sound from the beginning of The Hurting. It was a great drum sound, so I sampled that and used it at the beginning of the track, and they thought it was incredibly novel. They were very pleased to be on the record, even though they hadn’t realised it at the time.

We only had one day in SARM West. We had to get it all done by 8am the following morning to get it off to the presses. It was nerve-wracking, as we really didn’t know who would turn up. There were people flying in from all over the world, and it wasn’t like there were cars to pick them up. All that happened with the American record. Bob said there were obscene amounts of caviare and people having arguments over limo drivers. Ith us, if someone wanted a sandwich, they had to get it themselves.

Phil Collins: I turned up expecting the band to be George Michael, Sting, Bob Geldof, Midge Ure and me on drums. Instead there was this assembled Who's Who. I'd met Sting before, and always thought he was hip and I wasn't, but we struck up a friendship that day. I also remember that I'd heard about Bono, but he and Paul Weller and all these guys didn't seem like me, they seemed a bit unapproachable. I ended up standing next to Bono at the end of the record and he was fantastic. I've seen him a few times since and we always hark back to Band Aid.

Jon Moss (Clulture Club) : It was quite strange, being in a studio with loads of people you knew. I was amazed at how it happened. That was Bob’s achievement, just hustling people to do it. Thank God I got my arse down there.

When Boy George arrived, direct from New York, he flounced around and said, ‘I need a brandy.’ And Bob said, ‘Go round the fucking corner, there’s a pub.’ That brought him down to earth.

Francis Rossi (Status Quo) : It was crazy. A really crazy day. There were shitloads of drugs - coke, dope, all sorts. Everyone was going bananas. Rick [Parfitt of the Quo] told me recently that he got so out of it he couldn't sing anymore and was so annoyed on his way home that he was almost arrested for kicking road cones. Everybody was just totally out of it and Rick and I were the drug centre. People were saying, 'Let's go and see Doctor Rossi and Doctor Parfitt, shall we?'

George Michael : I felt very uncomfortable in the studio when we did the Band Aid thing. I was very aware of the prejudice against Wham! in there. Everybody in there had said things about everyone else in the press and, to a lot of people, Wham! were the laughing stock of the year. Some of it was jealousy and some of it was a genuine lack of respect. But the only person who actually came up and had a go at me was Paul Weller, because of something I had said about Arthur Scargill, the leader of the miners. I just said what I believed - I think the man’s a wanker.

Phil Collins : I’d just recorded duets with Philip Bailey and Eric Clapton and the record company were nagging me not to sing anything more until my own album came out. they were terrified I’d over-expose my voice. So I had to tell Geldof, ‘Sorry, Bob, I can’t sing.’

Midge Ure : Phil had been working on his solo stuff and it was his only day off, but he was kept hanging around for hours and hours. He just sat there placidly and said, ‘Am I on yet?’ We said, ‘Soon, soon.’ By the time it came to recording his drums, it only took two takes. His drums were all set up and the sounds were all there. Phil just told the engineer what to do. We just stuck up a pair of overhead Neumann mikes very high above the drum kit, and compressed the hell out of them, so as well as getting the dry sound coming through, you also heard all this sucking and blowing ambience. It just all came from the kit. It was tuned perfectly which I think iss the key to a good sound to start with, and it took us maybe ten minutes to tweak the sound, then we ran the track and he played the first take absolutely perfectly. He just thought he over-played, so he asked us to run it again and that was it.

Trevor Horn came into the studio at one point and he couldn't keep his hands off it. He had an idea to do a Madrigal-type thing with the vocals. So we spent about an hour and a half messing around with this idea but we just said, 'Hold on, you're killing it, just forget it!' He was credited as co-producer, but he shouldn't have been. I think that was a smart move on someone's part because forever in America it will be credited that Trevor Horn and Midge Ure produced the record which was annoying, especially after he turned it down.

We finished the record at about 8am and it went straight on a bike to the pressing plant. Bob took a cassette round to Radio 1 where he said, 'Life this year is a piece of plastic with a hole in the middle.' We were hoping to sell around 100,000 copies and get the Christmas number one.

Considering we only had 24 hours in which to record all the vocals and Phil's kit, and do all the filming, I think it was a major achievement. It certainly deserved a knighthood!
9source : not known)