History of Band Aid

History of Band Aid

The Creation of Band Aid

Over the 30 years the aim has been to raise finance and awareness and to leverage governments, and in particular the members of the G8 to step up to their responsibilities.

In 1984, the BBC first broadcast the horrific images of the Ethiopian famine. These images, which today remain ingrained into the British public’s memory, moved Sir Bob Geldof and he knew he had to do something, anything.

Penning the iconic single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” with Midge Ure from the band Ultravox, they started work on enlisting the help of colleagues and contacts within the music industry. The collaborative efforts of various stars, such as Boy George, Duran Duran, U2, Spandau Ballet, and George Michael to name a few, saw the creation of super-group “Band Aid”.

Over 24 hours, the song was recorded at Sarm West Studios, Notting Hill in London, on the 25th November 1984. The track was laid, mixed, and released in the space of four days.

Geldof galvanized the strength and passion of the public and having promised that every single penny from records sold would to go to the relief appeal, he managed to convince the British Government and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to waive tax contributions from the single.

Heading straight to the top of the charts, the record eclipsed that year’s Christmas Number 1, sitting on the top spot for five weeks. “Do They Know Its Christmas?” also found international success, charting at number 1 in over 14 countries.

The Evolution of Live Aid

Live Aid was borne out of the success of the single.

Understanding the potential power of a live event, proceedings were arranged on both sides of the Atlantic, introducing one live concert hosted at two different venues; the Wembley Stadium in London and the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Beginning in the UK and ending in the US, the concert was over 17 hours long, not including the simultaneous performances audiences enjoyed as part of the event. The event, which was broadcast live via satellite across the world, raised awareness of the plight of those in Ethiopia, and was a groundbreaking feat for philanthropy and for driving political change. One of the largest-scale satellite link ups ever, an estimated 1.9 billion people globally, across 150 nations, tuned in to watch the live broadcast. It helped catapult the suffering of those affected by the Ethiopian famine to the top of the news agenda, put pressure on governments to take more action, and it raised $80 million dollars. Every penny, as promised, was donated.

Twenty years later, on 2 July 2005, ten concerts took place across the globe under the banner of Live 8. An astonishing three billion people or so watched them. People were asked to lend their support to the Make Poverty History campaign that was running alongside the concerts. All this great noise and pressure mounted by the public ultimately also led to some critical political decisions: the cancellation of many of the poor countries debts, the promise by the world’s most powerful leaders to double aid and an increase in the levels of commitment to the poorest people in the world.


Over the past 30 years, $230million dollars has been raised – with all involved working pro-bono and with very little in the way of expenses.

Including Live 8, 1984 and 1985’s efforts would be the start of a globally recognized movement, welcoming other successful fundraising attempts such as Fashion Aid, Sport Aid ’86 “Run The World” and School Aid as well as a further two more Band Aid records in 1989 and 2004.

The support from the national and international public and the astonishing amount raised meant that those who needed our help received our help. But it’s never just been about the money raised, it’s always been politically driven – all the pressure created by the noise, the media, the money raised, the conversations and debates around the dinner table on the issues, this is what has pushed the governments and in turn what has truly led to the positive and long lasting changes we can see across many parts of the African continent.

The Story So Far

After One Week;

  • We have been number 1 in 69 countries
  • We have sold 470 000 digital copies
  • We have 400 000 preorders for the cd single
  • We have had 3, 000 radio plays in the uk
  • We have had £1,000,000 in donations
  • Generous vat refund from the government
  • 4 million views on you tube
  • 6 million views on Facebook

With Love From Band Aid

It seems so long ago now that we asked for your help. Seven years. It was only meant to last seven weeks, but I hadn’t counted on the fact that hundreds of millions of people would respond and I hadn’t reckoned on over 100 million dollars.

Seven years. You can count them now in trees and dams and fields and cows and camels and trucks and schools and health clinics, medicines, tents, blankets, clothes, toys, ships, planes, tools, wheat, sorghum, beans, research grants, workshops….. Maybe you should try and count them in terms of people. There are thousands upon thousands of people in a bitter and blasted part of this planet who were helped.

We promised that every penny would go there. And it did. Every penny that was raised through individual or corporate donations was sent to the countries we operated in. Their pain was eased, their burden lifted momentarily. Perhaps you gave them only a few extra weeks, a year or two, maybe a whole new start. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it worked. Not one of these would turn down those few weeks, years, whatever.

The experts will tell you it is hopeless? After seven years I am as expert as anyone. It is not a hopeless thing for one individual to care for another, to extend the hand of sympathy and shared humanity. It is not hopeless to ignore the discourse of development research and political polemics, and to reach above and over their impenetrable roar and touch the human beings on the other side.

Ask those people is it hopeless? Ask especially the poorest of the poor, the most innocent of all, the victims of both environmental degradation and political ruthlessness. Ask them, as they fall from hunger and tiredness, why they do not just give in, and succumb to what seems to be their inevitable fate? Because they too don’t believe in a world without hope.

They think its worth living. Humans have an awkward tendency not to give up hope.

The cameras may be tired of the story. Perhaps only pop stars interest them. I don’t know. In a result oriented world we get weary if messy problems aren’t resolved neatly. Maybe, in a world where we must prioritise our passions, Africa is a little tiresome, a little passé.

Maybe the glamorous suffering is elsewhere this year. Except there is no glamour in pain, no nobility in hunger, no pride in suffering. It goes on, We never pretended we could stop it. We wished to do something. We did. We wanted to make a point. We made it. We tried to take an issue, nowhere on the political agenda, and place it right on the top. We placed it there.

Maybe now that the political situation in Africa has become fluid again there is real reason for hope and improvement. When African leaders cease to use their citizens as fodder for monstrous utopian idiocies of social engineering, when they enfranchise their poor, when they begin to respect their countrymen, when they cease to accrue the products of the countries for their own personal glory, then there will be change.

Maybe when those of us in the Northern Hemisphere begin to bear in mind the effects of our behaviour and our governments’ policies on the poor of the world, there will be an improvement. Maybe when we cease to discriminate in trade, finance and politics against these people there will be improvement. And when the onerous burden of debt and unfair trading practice is lifted there can be progress. All these things are possible, for we are not helpless in the face of these manifest injustices. We can respond. Seven years ago in unprecedented ways you responded. You must not stop now.

Seven years ago I said I did not want to create an institution, but I did not want the idea of Band Aid to die. I did not want the potential of it to cease. There are a few dozen aid agencies, and they do great work, but that was not our function. Our idea was to open the avenues of possibility. The possibilities of ending hunger in Africa are there. There can be other Band Aids, there must be others, in new times, in different ways. I said once that we could be more powerful in memory than in reality. Now we are that memory.

Will you ever forget the gift of a small plastic record in the cold dark Christmas of ’84? Will you ever forget singing on a bright hot summer day in ’85? Will your legs not ache in sympathy with the memory of running in the spring of ’86?

The avenues of possibility have been opened.

Walk down them

Goodbye and thank you for everything.


Bob Geldof