LONDON; One Direction, Ed Sheeran and a host of other stars are to raise money to fight Ebola with a 30th anniversary version of the Band Aid charity single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, Bob Geldof announced on Monday (Nov 10). It will be the fourth incarnation of the song, which became one of the world’s biggest-selling singles ever after its release in 1984 to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia.
Ebola “is a particularly pernicious illness because it renders humans untouchable and that is sickening,” Geldof said at a London press conference with Midge Ure, who co-organised the first Band Aid with the Irish singer. “Mothers can’t comfort their children in their dying hours. Lovers can’t cradle each other. Wives can’t hold their husbands’ hands. People are chased down the streets because of it – and it could come our way,” Geldof said.
The rocker-turned-activist said he had been spurred into action not out of nostalgia but by a call from the United Nations three weeks ago, concerned about not having the necessary funds to combat the epidemic. The Ebola outbreak in west Africa has claimed almost 5,000 lives, according to the World Health Organization – almost all in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – while the number of infected cases registered worldwide has soared to more than 13,000.
Other artists already signed up for the single include U2 frontman Bono – who sang on the original recording – Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Bastille, Elbow, Ellie Goulding, Emeli Sande, Foals, Paloma Faith, Queen drummer Roger Taylor, Sinead O’Connor and Underworld. Band Aid were also reported to be in talks with British superstar Adele.
The vocals will be recorded on Saturday at Sarm Studios in west London, just as on the original recording. The sleeve artwork will be done by British artist Tracey Emin and the single will be available for download on Nov 17, with physical copies three weeks later. The track will cost 99 pence (US$1.60) to download or £4 (US$6.35) to buy as a physical record.
Fundraising was underway on Tuesday with fundraising site Prizeo offering fans a chance to win a “day in the studio” as the single is recorded, in exchange for donations between US$5 and US$50,000.
GELDOF SLAMS CHINA, UAE EFFORTS
Geldof said he thought the British government would agree to drop the tax on sales, and called on people to buy it rather than watching it for free on the Internet. Ure, the frontman of Ultravox, said: “It’s a record none of us want to make and I wish it wasn’t necessary”.
The lyrics have been tweaked to reflect lush, economically developing west Africa in 2014 rather than the barren Ethiopia depicted 30 years ago. Geldof also said there would be French, German and US versions featuring artists from those countries. However, there will not be a giant “Live Aid” concert, because there was no “political logic” to doing one, he said.
Separately however, One Direction announced a charity performance in aid of the BBC’s Children in Need appeal on Friday.
Geldof slammed certain countries for not doing enough to contribute to the level of Britain, France and the United States. The Dubliner said the United Arab Emirates’ small donation to Ebola was a “disgrace”, swore over China’s contribution and said Australia “isn’t doing great”. “If these countries claim global leadership, then they must accept the responsibility of those things,” the 63-year-old said.
The original 1984 version, which featured the likes of Phil Collins, George Michael and Sting, was re-recorded with new artists in 1989, and again in 2004 for Sudan’s troubled Darfur region.