Geldof and Midge Ure will re-record a new version of 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' with producer Paul Epworth on Saturday (November 15)
Announcing the news at a press conference in London today (November 10), original Band Aid organisers Midge Ure and Bob Geldof said all money raised from sales of the single will go towards the fight against Ebola in west Africa. Ure confirmed that the lyrics to the original song will be tweaked ahead of recording to reflect the challenges affecting today’s Africa, with references to hunger taken out.
Geldof said: “We know we can contain Ebola; we have the doctors, the nurses, medicines and state systems, we have money. [People are] dying again because they are extremely poor. That is radically unacceptable.”
The list of big name artists contributing to the new recording also includes One Direction, Jessie Ware, Fuse ODG, Emeli Sande, Sam Smith, Sinead O’Connor, Ellie Goulding, Elbow and Queen’s Roger Taylor. The organisers also tried to secure Rita Ora, but the singer is recording BBC TV show The Voice this weekend and is currently unavailable.
As well as the ensemble version of the track, Midge Ure also mentioned that fans may be able to download alternate versions of the song sung entirely by individual artists.
David Bowie has been approached to record an introduction to the song’s official video, and Bono – who appeared on the original version of the song plus Band Aid 20, the 2004 incarnation – will also be present on the recording, though it has not been confirmed if he will reprise his famous line, “Well, tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you“. Geldof and Ure told the assembled press that the lines apportioned to individual artists will be decided on the day.
Adele collaborator Paul Epworth will gather with the artists to record the song on Saturday (November 15) at Sarm in Notting Hill, London – the same studio used for Band Aid in 1984. The track will be available to download for 99p on November 17 with a physical CD arriving three weeks later, priced at £4. Turner Prize-winning artist Tracey Emin will provide the sleeve art.
Geldof began the press conference by saying: “Welcome to the world’s worst kept secret,” in reference to news of the single first emerging last week. He said that he decided to do the new version of the single after receiving a call from the UN informing him that Africa needed “20 times” the aid they are currently receiving if they are to combat the spread of Ebola.
“I don’t like doing this stuff,” he said. “It’s boring and it’s embarrassing having to call people up and ask them to be involved. We’re doing it for the people who need support. Not just those with this filthy disease but also the aid workers out there giving up their lives to care for them.”
“It doesn’t matter if you hate the song or the artists involved,” added Geldof. “Buy the thing, download it. Pay for everything, it’s a quid.”
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The charity single will not appear on streaming service Spotify until January, with Geldof declaring himself “a Taylor Swift-ian” following the singer’s decision to remove her music from Spotify last week.
Geldof added that he is working with Michael Jackson-producer Quincy Jones on a US version of Band Aid, and that there are both German and French versions planned, with Daft Punk believed to be involved in the latter. Jones recorded the US answer to Band Aid, USA For Africa’s ‘We Are The World’, in 1985.
The original Band Aid single was produced by Midge Ure and featured Bono, George Michael, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Jody Watley and Boy George, among others. All proceeds went to relieve those affected by famine in Ethiopia. Two more versions of the track were released in 1989 and 2004.
Geldof has previously spoken of the detrimental effect activism has had on his music career, asserting that he could have enjoyed success on the scale of Sting and Paul Weller. “It’s completely damaged my ability to do the thing I love,” he told the Evening Standard in 2012. “If it hadn’t happened I think I would have been able to make the transition from The Boomtown Rats to a solo thing more like Paul Weller or Sting.”