ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

The single for Ethiopia: “We thought there must be something more we can do.”

Three weeks ago, Bob Geldof saw a television report on the famine in Ethiopia and felt “outraged”. He rang Midge Ure and suggested they make a record to raise money. Midge agreed. Then he rang Sting, Gary Kemp and Simon le Bon. They agreed too. Then he rang a lot of other people — more pop stars, record producers, record shop owners, designers, photographers, film crews and t-shirt manufacturers — and they all offered to help as well. 38 people sang on the record (the lyrics are over the page). And Peter Martin saw it all happen.

9.15 am Sunday, November 25 and somethings stirring outside Sarm West studios. The roads being blocked off, police are everywhere. Passers-by stroll up to see whats going on. Local residents lean out of windows just in case theyre missing anything. The airs heavy with anticipation.

A clutch of rather chilly-looking photographers are milling aound the doors of whats come to be known as the ZTT building: it houses the studio where Trevor Horn helped Frankie make “Relax”. Clearly something of a big deal is about to take place.

Inside the speckledy-blue building theres even more commotion. No less then seven camera crews are setting up cameras, lights and tripods. There are five British crews ranging from The Tube to the BBC news team and two American crews. Frantically they rush into action as a rather lanky, unshaven, bleary-eyed bloke arrives. Its Bob Geldof, showing signs of strain from ten solid days of organizing todays events. So whats it in aid of and why has he done it?

“I was outraged after seeing the first shots from Ethiopia, but rather than just put my hand in my pocket I thought there must be more I can do. So I just phoned up everybody I knew, starting with friends like Midge Ure, Sting, Gary Kemp and Simon le Bon and they all agreed to help. Hopefully this event will raise a substantial amount of money.

“And then to cut out administrative costs Ill just phone Addis Ababa direct and ask them what they want, buy it, charter a cargo ship and try and get various sections of the music industry to sponsor jeeps to take the stuff out there. That way everything will get through and no money will be wasted.

Also all the people involved today are doing it for free, from the musicians to the technicians and even down to the people in the factory whore going to press the record.”

Out of every £1.35 spent on the single, £1.00s worth of food should reach the starving people of Ethiopia.

Next through the door is Midge Ure wholl be producing “Do They Know Its Christmas?” (which he actually wrote along with Bob). In fact hes already recorded the synthesized backing-track ready for the musicians and singers to do their bits over.

“Its just like my bedroom,” he quips, pointing at the large Roman pillars inside the recording room. Behind him is Jon Moss, assuring all and sundry that Boy George will be arriving later (the pair of them have specially flown back from their American tour by Concorde). It seems hes thrilled to bits to be working on the record with his “hero” Phil Collins.

Now, it appears, the floodgates are open. For the next two hours a constant stream of the worlds most famous pop stars pour into the building, ready to be filmed, photographed and recorded. Stings just arrived in his jet black Range Rover. He looks very much the family man these days with his comfy, casual clothes and straggly centre-parted hair. Paul Wellers turned up on foot and spends most time in the corner, minding his own business. “Im hardly everybodys favourite person. They just seem to ignore me — I dont blame them.” Next in are Spandau Ballet. Up they roll in two chauffeur-driven limousines along with no less than four minders. “I get it,” cracks Gary Kemp on entering the star-studded coffee bar, “its all a ploy by Island Records. Get every pop star except Frankie in one room and blow the whole place up!”

Next in are Duran Duran who, like Spandau, have just got off the 6.30 am plane from Dortmund, Germany. Nick is fully made-up and sporting ski-goggles while, quite frankly, John looks a bit of a wreck: “Actually Im on another planet.” Suddenly the place is choc-a-block. You cant move for pop stars. You cant even go into the toilet without bumping into someone like Simon le Bon.

Trevor Horn arrives and offers to mix a 12" version. The offer is accepted immediately. Then he asks for three weeks to do it in. “Youve got a night,” smiles Geldof. After all, the 7" will be recorded today, mixed tonight, mastered tomorrow (when it will receive its first radio play from a tape), pressed in the factory on Wednesday and will be in the shops on Saturday. By the time you read this it should have been on sale for four days and hopefully be on its way to raising the hoped-for £1½ million pounds for the Ethiopian Famine Trust. And, due to Geldofs persistence, the record company Phonogram and main stores like WH Smiths and John Menzies have agreed to forgo profits.

By noon all but Boy George have arrived and been leisurely ushered upstairs for a grand photo session. Like any good school assembly picture the tall ones stand at the back, trying their best to conceal their fags and cans of lager; the middle-sized ones stay in the middle and the smaller ones perch down the front. A Kop-style football chant breaks out in the John Taylor/Paul Young/Steve Norman area accompanied by much swaying of arms. “Eyes to the camera,” yells official photographer Brian Aris. “Simon! Eyes to the camera! Midge, stop talking.” Bono and Paul Weller are then asked to stop nattering. Marilyn puts on his best pout and Francis Rossi even manages a slug from his hip flask in between each click of the shutter.

Then its time to sing. Lyric sheets are handed round, choirboy positions are assumed and the backing-track is set in motion. “One, two, three, four. Let them know its Christmas time again/Feed the world,” is the message that reels over and over. The general consensus is that the song is really quite good and all agree that “its the idea and the feeling behind it that count.”

After an hours worth of takes Trevor Horn moves in. Setting up one main microphone he gets the throng — or Band Aid as theyre collectively called — to form a semi-circle.

Then, in true headmasterly form, he raises his arms and gives instructions on how to sing in a relatively complex ‘cascading motion, with one line swerving into another. After an hour hes off. “Thanks a lot, Im sure we can make something out of it.” Class dismissed.

All disperse into little groups. The naughty ones like Status Quo and John and Andy Taylor sneak round the toilets for a smoke. Paul Weller, Marilyn and Bananarama plonk themselves in front of the telly (with the sound off). Spandau and Heaven 17 go for a cup of tea. Nick Rhodes has a go on the Asteroids machine. And people like Paul Young, Bono and George Michael keep shooting upstairs to do their ‘solo bits.

“Female vocals upstairs now,” is the call. Bananarama trot off but not before Keren shouts, “Coming, Marilyn?” Eventually a lot of people start to leave and a nucleus of people start to congregate in the small studio console for the evenings recording. Jon Moss is there, impatiently waiting to do his bit of percussion with Phil Collins. Bonos chatting to Simon le Bon while they wait to do their vocals. Then in comes Sting with his girlfriend Trudi, his baby daughter, and two small dogs which keep sniffing around in every nook and cranny. Downstairs John Taylors scoffing some chilli con carne, when neil from The Young Ones meanders through with the unit from The Tube. “Typical,” splutters John,” I wait all day to have something to eat and then they turn up.” neil stops for a minute, asks if anyone knows how to make herb tea, and then slides off to hear an acoustic rendition of the song by Paul Weller, Bob Geldof and Gary Kemp.

Its about time for the band video. Everyone is gathered round and put into position. John Taylor (who did his bass part on Wednesday because he thought “playing in front of all these posers would be a bit unnerving”) and Sting sit next to each other, both with basses (Sting doesnt actually play on the record). Midge stands behind the keyboards. Phil Collins sits behind his huge drumkit (hes also just “laid down” his part) while Jon Moss coolly stands behind his drum and cymbal. Then in the background stand Bob Geldof, Paul Weller and Gary Kemp, all with acoustic guitars. They do it in two takes. It strikes everyone that combined, the total sales behind that “supergroup” would amount to a staggering 200 million records.

Then who should walk in but Boy George? Strangely for him he looks quite phased and waves his arms in the air shieking: “My God, its so trippy seeing all these faces in one tiny room!” He sits on the arm of the couch next to Jon Moss whos chatting to Simon le Bon. On his left are Trudi (plus baby) whos talking to Paula Yates (plus baby Fifi Trixibelle) and Bono whos talking to Sting. George just sits there and smiles in mild disbelief. Being there all day it seems quite natural the way everyone has got together, “working for the cause” as it is. But to someone whos just come in from the cold the scene must appear rather odd. I mean Simon le Bon sharing experiences about ‘life on the road with Bono? Paul Weller getting on famously with Marilyn? Dogs and babies in a studio? Surely some mistake?

Understandably in the circumstances, George asks for some brandy before he does his vocal. Within minutes it arrives, as does Marilyn. “Hello Doris!” yowls George and he gets up to give him a hug and a kiss. And then hes off in the studio to do his bit. After about six takes — with George making little alterations here and there — its finished. Midge announces that its been a pleasure to work with everybody and “everything that needs to be recorded is finished. You can go home now.” Slowly but surely everyone makes their way downstairs, farewells are said and good lucks exchanged.

“It was very important that people were here and seen to be here,” reckons Sting.

“We all go round making records and touring the world and we never meet — its isolated. So to get the industry behaving as a unit is a tribute to Bob Geldof.”

Now all thats left is a nights mixing by Bob and Midge.

“They all did their parts incredibly well,” smiles one extremely weary-looking Midge Ure. “With all those potential prima donnas out there it was surprising but there were no ego problems. It made a pleasant change.”

Bob meanwhile peers at the television screen and sees a playback of events that took place earlier today. “You know, when you see it like that it looks like ancient history. In fact it looks like you werent even there at all.” And with that he rubs his eyes and strolls off back to the studio.

No matter what you think of the song or the feelings behind it, it struck home that there is more to pop music than total insincerity, naked ambition, blind profit, a lot of hot air about all things ‘positive and useless social comments made through crummy ‘post apocalyptic videos.

Today proved once and for all that pop music can still be a force.


Back row (left-right): Adam Clayton (U2), Phil Collins (Genesis), Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats), Steve Norman (Spandau), Chris Cross (Ultravox), John Taylor (Duran), Paul Young, Tony Hadley (Spandau), Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17), Simon le Bon (Duran), Simon Crowe (Boomtown Rats), Marilyn, Keren (Bananarama), Martin Kemp (Spandau), Jody Watley (ex-Shalamar).

Middle row (left-right): Bono (U2), Paul Weller (Style Council), James Taylor (Kool & The Gang), Peter Blake (the artist who designed the record sleeve), George Michael (Wham!), Midge Ure (Ultravox), Martyn Ware (Heaven 17), John Keeble (Spandau), Gary Kemp (Spandau), Roger Taylor (Duran), Sarah (Bananarama), Siobhan (Bananarama), Francis Rossi (Status Quo).

Front row (left-right): Robert ‘Kool Bell (Kool & The Gang), Dennis Thomas (Kool & The Gang), Andy Taylor (Duran), Jon Moss (Culture Club), Sting (The Police), Rick Parfitt (Status Quo), Nick Rhodes (Duran), Johnny Fingers (Boomtown Rats), Pete Briquette (Boomtown Rats).

  • George Michael: “I just thought it was a nice gesture and something really worthwhile.”
  • Sting:” Everyone I know, including myself, has sent money to Ethiopia but the feeling thats common is that its not enough. Whether you send £100, or £10,000 or even 10 quid its not enough. You just go back to having your dinner and watching the telly. So when the chance came to do something extra I had to say yes because: 1) we make records and its probably our only talent and 2) if it sells we might get a bucketful of water for the ocean as opposed to a raindrop.”
  • Paul Young: “I couldnt have been anywhere else today.”
  • Sarah from Bananarama: “Im just disgusted by the whole situation over there — especially by the fact that people are starving and weve got huge silos of surplus grain.”
  • Adam Clayton from U2: The fact that hunger is a permanent thing — you give a bowl of rice in the morning, you need another later on in the day and the next day… so I think the important thing about the whole project is that it will help to keep public interest turned on this problem and that can only be a good thing. Front page news changes daily and itd be criminal if people forget about whats going on over there.”
  • Paul Weller:”I just done it for the same reason as everybody else. Bob rang me and I thought it was a great idea. The cause is the only one common thing between us, otherwise youd never have gotten all these bands together — especially with me here.”
  • Simon le Bon: “Im doing it for people who need it.
  • (cont.) This whole thing just shows that people can do something about things if they want to — thats the whole point really, its as obvious as that.”
  • Nick Rhodes: “Im doing this mainly because its a great cause and it will raise a lot of money and draw a lot of attention to this problem. I just hope it doesnt stop at this record. Certainly if we get the chance well do more in the future.”
  • John Taylor: “The whole thing serves a dual purpose — it can raise a lot of money and Im really proud of it because its a celebration of British pop music. Ive always wished something like The Beatles ‘All You Need Is Love could happen now.”

Do They Know Its Christmas? BAND AID

Its Christmas time
Theres no need to be afraid
At Christmas time
We let in light
And we banish shade
And in our world of plenty
We can spread
A smile of joy
Throw your arms
Around the world
At Christmas time

But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Christmas time
Its hard but when youre having fun
Theres a world
Outside your window
And its a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is
The bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells
That ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God its them
Instead of you

And there wont be snow
In Africa
This Christmas time
The greatest gift
Theyll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know
Its Christmas time at all

Heres to you
Raise a glass for everyone
Heres to them
Underneath that burning sun
Do they know
Its Christmas time at all

Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know
Its Christmas time again

Repeat to fade

Words and music Bob Geldof/Midge Ure

Reproduced by permission Chappell Music Pubs Ltd

On Phonogram Records