Do Bob Geldof and Midge Ure get any royalties for Do They Know It’s Christmas?

27 December 2020, 18:00

The writers of the iconic charity Christmas single have tackled rumours that they've received any profits for the Band Aid song throughout the years.

It's that time of year where you can't go anywhere without hearing a popular Christmas song, and that definitely goes for the Band Aid single Do They Know It's Christmas?

The track, which was first released on 25 November 1984, was written by Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof and Ultravox guitarist Midge Ure as a reaction to the shocking television reports of the 1983-85 Ethiopian famine.

Created with the sole purpose of raising funds for the people of Ethiopia, the track featured cameos from famous pop faces- with everyone from Bono to Boy George taking part.

After achieving a Christmas number one that year, the track went on to be the fastest selling single in UK history, only being beaten off the top spot when Candle In The Wind 1997 was released following the death of Princes Diana.

Watch the original video for Do They Know It's Christmas? above.

The performers of the original Band Aid single in November 1984
The performers of the original Band Aid single in November 1984. Picture: Steve Hurrell/Redferns/Getty Images

The track also led to various events, with the historic Live Aid concert - which featured an iconic performance from Freddie Mercury and Queen - taking place just seven months later on 13 July 1985.

Despite being released over 35 years ago, the Christmas single has become a song for every generation, getting a new lease of life three more times when it was released in 1989, 2004 and again in 2014 - with the latter updated to raise funds for the Ebola crisis.

The song has raised millions for charity across the years, but did its writers ever see a penny in royalties for it?

Bob Geldof and Midge Ure spoke out about the festive track to settle the score once and for all when the query came up again in 2019.

READ MORE: The 10 Most Popular Christmas Songs

Bob Geldof and Midge Ure during the recording of 1984's Do They Know It's Christmas?
Bob Geldof and Midge Ure during the recording of 1984's Do They Know It's Christmas? Picture: Larry Ellis/Express Newspapers/Getty Images

Was Live Aid the greatest gig ever?

Do Bob Geldof and Midge Ure get any money for Do They Know It's Christmas?

Speaking to LBC's James O'Brien after the topic came up on LBC's Mystery Hour the previous day, the musicians were emphatic and clear in their response.

Midge Ure told the presenter: "We have to refute that this is nonsense. And it's understandable that people in this day and age especially live in doubt when we're surrounded by a sea of lies and non-truths, that people will doubt that this is actually true...

"But in 35 years, we have never received a penny, neither Bob nor I, from Band Aid or Live Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas? ...The four different versions, not ANY of that stuff."

The Vienna star added: "100 per cent of the royalties goes directly to the Band Aid Trust and I'm sure Bob will have more to say on that subject."

Bob Geldof was even more passionate in his response, telling O'Brien: "Let me just reiterate and and guarantee and assure everyone and everyone listening - especially the people who kept reproducing it on Twitter - the problem with a program of record like yours, where you deal with people's conversations and people talk about what's happening in the world today is that it gets re-fed into the Twittersphere."

Despite Geldof agreeing O'Brien strongly cast doubt over the rumours, he went on to say it was the assertions made by others which could destroy the song's legacy and its future sales.

He continued "And just like the lying President of the United States, for many people these become facts. And they need to be nailed.

"We've put up with this for quite a long time and Midge and I just got sick of it yesterday, because it's dangerous, because at this specific time of year [...] every year at Christmas, Band Aid receives thousands of pounds, if not hundreds of thousands, and over 35 years it's been tens and hundreds of millions and that is because the record constantly plays..."

The I Don't Like Mondays singer added: "And It constantly generates money for what, James? For the poorest people in the world. And 100 per cent, like we said on the BBC morning show 35 years ago - 100 per cent will go to those people. I can reiterate that and Midge is here to confirm.

"There's six of us in Band Aid. None of us have taken a cup of coffee out of that money..."

Watch the clip of the Band Aid duo talking to James O'Brien here:

Asked if they "have a figure" about the money earned, Geldof said it's "in excess of £200 million".

Midge Ure added: "And that's without the intervention of USA for Africa. That's just Band Aid and Live Aid."

As reported by LBC, Bob Geldof said in a statement: "100% of all publishing revenues from the sale of the song over the past 35 years (and continuing) and amounting to tens of millions of pounds go and have gone directly to the Band Aid Trust for distribution to projects that aim to help the poor in several countries in Africa.

"To be perfectly clear neither Midge nor Bob have ever received a single penny in royalty revenues from the song or any activity whatsoever regarding Band Aid  including the Live Aid and Live8 concerts or the 4 separate versions of Do They Know Its Christmas?"

QUIZ: Can You Remember Which Acts Played At Live Aid?