In the studio
A GALAXY OF BRITAIN’S TOP POP STARS —
IF THEY hadn’t given their time and talents for free it would have been the world’s most expensive —
In just 10 days, Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof, had assembled a star spangled cast: Culture Club, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, U2, Status Quo, Wham!, Heaven 17, Paul Young, Paul Weller, Phil Collins, Bananarama, and many others donated their services for free. More than 40 of the finest gathered under the direction of Geldof and the production of Midge Ure.
Boy George jetted in by Concorde from New York to be there. Paul McCartney and David Bowie couldn’t make it, but sent messages of support which’ll be included on the B-side of the single. The song itself, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ is written by Geldof and Ure.
Now, he says, it’s up to the public:
“I think they have a moral imperative to play this record and to buy it. It doesn’t matter if you like the record or not, it’s really the music industry’s way of doing its bit. Anyone who buys records is part of that industry. It’s a nice way at Christmas of giving a pound.”
GELDOF HIMSELF speaks with passion of the project. He’s arranged it so that the maximum amount possible actually goes to Ethiopia:
“The public can be assured that for every £1.35 they spend on this record, one pound of it is going directly into the mouth of a child in Ethiopia.”
So what do the stars think about the project?
STING: “It’s a great tribute to the normally lackadaisical rock industry, to actually be here. And to Bob Geldof of course for his amazing energy and talent in getting the thing off the ground.”
PHIL COLLINS: “I don’t see any problems with egos here today ‘cos everyone in the business is mates. It’s a good cause and it’s good fun to all get together and make it. I’m determined, along with the others, that as much of the money as possible gets to those starving people in Ethiopia.”
SIMON LE BON: “I’m delighted to be here. When Bob rang to ask us to turn up we just dropped everything. It’s a great idea and it shows, I hope, that we care. Just buy it, for everyone in Ethiopia.”
FRANCIS ROSSI: “What a great occasion. It’s just fantastic to see all the guys and gals here. If this beats the Quo single to number one at Christmas I’ll be a happy man.”
WITH SO many stars wandering the corridors the buzz in the air was intense. But the excitement shifted into a higher gear when word came through that HE was on his way.
And so Boy George came, by Concorde from New York and fast car through the West End of London to the studios.
In the back of the brown Rover He sat amidst a heap of cuddly toys, presents from the new admiring legions in America. He confessed to being “totally and absolutely knackered, dear, up all night y’know!” The make-up was perhaps a little too heavy. But the eyes, as ever, sparkled mysteriously.
The tall black-clad figure waiting on the other side of the door like a club greeter was none other than Simon Le Bon.
Superstar embraced superstar. George took Simon’s arm and stage-whispered: “Come on, dear, let’s start some rumours.”
CLUTCHING A cup of coffee to soothe a throat battered by a month long American tour, George sought out a quiet corner and explained to me the swift process that had propelled him across the Atlantic to this seedy back-street of North London.
“It’s really funny because the last person you’d expect to ring you on tour is another pop star. But I was lying in bed the other morning really tired when the phone rang and the voice at the other end said it was Bob Geldof. I said: ‘Pull the other one’. But he said, ‘It is’. I recognised the Irish accent.
“He asked me if I could make it today, and of course I’d heard whispers about it. I’m easily persuaded so I jumped on Concorde and here I am.
“Also it’ll stop Frankie Goes To Hollywood getting to number one at Christmas,” George threw back his head and laughed long and loud, before adding: “And that’s a *** great cause!”
The gathered minor stars and assorted aides roared appreciatively on cue.
George went on: “Hopefully if the fans of the people who are here today and have played on the record go out and buy it then it’ll be number one, and for once we’ll have a record there that’s for a good cause. I think at the moment that hype has taken over pop music and the sooner the fans find something worthwhile to buy, the better for the industry.”
But will the money all get to the right people? “I hope so. I mean, you either do it and hope that it all gets there or you just don’t bother. It’s better to make the effort.”
GEORGE AND Simon swept into the control room. Geldof, unshaven as ever and looking like he’d just emerged from ‘The Wall’, gave another of his gaping wide grins in welcome. Midge Ure, busy at the console, quickly glanced up and then returned to the business at hand.
George made straight for the thin nervous-looking feminine figure perched on the couch and placed a smacker on the freshly rouged cheeks of Marilyn. The two dissolved into a huddle, gossip to catch up on, y’know!
On the other side of the glass panel three figures gathered round a microphone, struggling to harmonise a chorus. Not just any backing singers these… from left to right: Sting, Bono and Paul Young. Francis Rossi lounged in a corner, Paul Weller and Phil Collins stood nearby tapping their feet to the beat. The boys from Wham! explained they were too tired for interviews, the poor dears! Spandau Ballet got upset when someone failed to recognise them. Bananarama stood in the background, they hadn’t enough hits to be too pushy, I guess.
Humour mixed with hard work; the song took shape as on into the night they toiled. Midge Ure at the helm, cajoling gently.Continue »
They all gathered in a farewell party as George, clearly the belle of the ball, prepared to make his dramatic exit, through the wailing kids and shouting pressmen, into the Rover and away.
The good deed done, it was back to the games pop people play.