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Saturday, 15 November 2014
Download song to tackle Ebola from Monday
By ALAN OAKLEY - Fri Nov 14, 11:13 am
Bob Geldof has announced he has put together another ‘supergroup’ to record a charity single – this time to aid combatting the Ebola crisis.
‘Sir’ Bob, who was responsible along with former Ultravox lead singer Midge Ure for recruiting what became Band Aid to record ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ in 1984, has approached several artists, including current pop phenomenon One Direction and old stagers Bono and Chris Martin, to record a new, slightly tweaked version of the song.
The original became one of the biggest-selling singles ever after its release, selling 3.7 million copies and raising £8 million. Subsequent incarnations, the most recent of which was ten years ago to raise money for famine victims in Darfur, have failed to fare so well, but this is partly due to the way people listen to music now. Back in 1984, the likes of iTunes and Spotify – not to mention industrial-scale music piracy – could not have been imagined, whereas now, to the age group responsible for buying most of the popular music sold, the last thing the term ‘seven-inch’ conjures up is music.
Speaking in London, Geldof said the project, which is again a collaborative effort with Ure, would bring together three generations of musicians.
“We set about calling around to see if there was an appetite for this generation and it turned out there was. Then we called up some giants of the past and our own contemporaries and they said they would come again to the party,” he said.
“This is a particularly pernicious illness because it renders humans untouchable and that is sickening,” Geldof said of the Ebola virus.
“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.”
Other artists already signed up for the single include Bastille, Ed Sheeran, Elbow, Ellie Goulding, Jesse Ware, Sam Smith, Emeli Sandé, Foals, Paloma Faith, Queen drummer Roger Taylor, Sinead O’Connor, and Underworld. The participation of Rita Ora is being negotiated. The single is due to be recorded on Saturday (November 15) when the singer is under contract to BBC’s The Voice.
At a media briefing on Monday, Geldof said: “We’ve asked The Voice if they can work around this to give us two hours of Rita. So far, it hasn’t been very good. I’m sure with a bit of encouragement it will happen…”
A BBC spokesperson has since said: “The BBC is more than happy for Rita to take part in the single and The Voice production team is liaising with her management to work around a major diary clash.”
Geldof says there will also be foreign language versions of the song, including French and German sung by artists popular in those nations. US artists will also record a version. Geldof has made a passionate plea to ‘buy this thing’ to help those suffering from ‘this filthy little virus’.
“It has nothing to do with whether you like the record or not or whether you approve of the artists,” Geldof told BBC News, adding: “It’s simply a way of saying, this Christmas, yeah, let’s stop this here.”
Irishman Geldof, who first achieved notoriety as lead singer of post-punk subversives Boomtown Rats, has carved out a niche as a philanthropic activist since Band Aid and 1985’s massive Live Aid concerts, each of which served to draw attention to the plight of famine-hit African nations, especially Ethiopia at the time.
Neither has he escaped personal tragedies. His former wife, music journalist and TV presenter Paula Yates, and more recently their daughter Peaches both died from drug overdoses.
Geldof has said he was spurred into action not out of nostalgia but by a call from the United Nations three weeks ago. According to the World Health Organisation, the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed some 5,000 lives, the vast majority of which have been in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The number of cases registered worldwide has risen to more than 13,000.
Band Aid 30 (to reflect the 30th anniversary of the original) ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ will be released as a digital download on November 17 priced 99p, with a physical (CD) version costing £4 to follow in three weeks’ time.
All proceeds from new campaign will go towards funding the relief efforts to fight the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa.