Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” Was 35 Years Ago, We Are so Old

When I think about the 80s, I still think of it as being about twenty years ago. It’s as if when we hit the year 2000, the progression of years just stopped, and somehow our beloved and iconic 80s still remain only a few years in the past.

Then I will read an article about some monumental anniversary an event from the 80s is having, and I’m catapulted back to the realization that the 80s? Well, those years are actually closer to soon being labeled a generation in the past, not just a couple decades ago.

Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas is 35 Years Old

One of those anniversary events is happening this month, and when I tell you that a song you probably spent hours sitting by the radio waiting to be played on your favorite station is THIRTY FIVE years old, your first reaction will most likely be what mine was…..HOW IS THAT 35 YEARS AGO? I have no idea either, but “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was released in the United Stated on December 10, 1984. I also bet that you were sitting by the radio waiting for the song so you could quickly hit “record” on your tape recorder. In other words, YOU ARE OLD!

The song which is now played yearly like a traditional Christmas carol, was a collaboration between two singer/songwriters in Great Britain, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure. They were so moved by the Ethiopian famine that they created a charity supergroup of British pop stars to record a song they had written about the African hunger plight.

The group which became known as Band Aid, featured some of the most famous singers and bands of that era, all of whom donated their time and voices to singing a song we all probably still can recite my heart.

When the song hit American radio stations in early December, its instant popularity helped sales of the single surpass the 2.5 million copies mark in less than three months. (And that was back when we all had to physically drive to record stores and buy it!) Better yet, the song raised awareness and more than $24 million (USD). 

I can’t hear the first three seconds of this song without instantly knowing what it is, and because those loud, beating drums and percussion bells are so instantly recognizable, it’s hard to believe the song came out when I was around 12 years old.  And yet I can still clearly picture the music video (remember those?) where my favorite British heartthrobs at the time all belted out, “Feed the world!”

If you’ve forgotten some of the big names who were part of Band Aid, let me refresh your memory. Soloists on the single included George Michael, Bono, Paul Young, and Boy George of Culture Club fame. All of Duran Duran was singing and/or playing bass on it, and would you believe a very young Phil Collins was playing drums? PHIL COLLINS! And lest we forget, Sting was also singing, as well as Jody Watley and Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool and the Gang, and remember Spandau Ballet? They were there, too.

The success of the song and Band Aid, led to the formation of Live Aid which was held at Wembley Stadium the following summer, and charity albums, concerts,  and songs soon became a thing that would forever impact causes like world hunger. Live Aid spurred another concert series called Farm Aid, created to help American farmers.

Geldof’s legacy of bringing the plight of poverty up front and personal with the help of music is a legacy that has stood for over three decades. He has stated about his efforts, 

We took an issue that was nowhere on the political agenda and, through the lingua franca of the planet – which is not English but rock ‘n’ roll – we were able to address the intellectual absurdity and the moral repulsion of people dying of want in a world of surplus.

I recently played the music video for my college kids, and aside from recognizing a very young Sting, they pretty much wondered why everyone had mullets, why the video quality was so bad, and why did they need to sing a song to raise money when “you can just text to donate to charities nowadays.” 

But, I don’t care what they say,  Simon Le Bon, Bono, George Michael and Boy George will always, ALWAYS have a place in my heart, every Christmas. (They can even keep their sexy mullets.)

You Might Also Enjoy:

20 Songs From The ‘80s and ‘90s We Still Need In Our Lives Today

Why Christmas In The 80s Was The Best

About Melissa Fenton

Melissa Fenton is a freelance writer and adjunct librarian at Pasco-Hernando State College. Find her writing all over the internet, but her work mostly on the dinner table. Find her on Facebook 
and on twitter at @melissarunsaway

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