PEAK POSITION: Number 1 (6 weeks)
SALES: 3.8m (December 2017)
YEAR OF RELEASE: November 1984
WHEN DID IT REACH ONE MILLION SALES?: December 1984
After a year of epic single sales, 1984 ended with another record that sold in unprecedented quantities!
For several months in 1984 the North African nation of Ethiopia had been tragically gripped by famine that was killing millions. BBC journalist Michael Burke produced a new report in October which was watched by Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldolf. He was appalled at what he saw. He urged Ultravox’s Midge Ure to help him put together a charity record.
Ure wrote music to Geldof’s lyrics whilst Geldof went out to persuade British pop legends to come together to record the song. The song was recorded in just eight hours with over 38 contributors. The next morning the song was premiered and it became available the following Monday, the 29th November.
It became the fastest million seller of all time, and held the top spot until the end of the year, a full four weeks.
The song knocked Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power Of Love’ off the top of the chart, and kept Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ from the summit (the latter going on to become the highest selling single never to reach Number 1 in the process).
The song was re-recorded in 1989 (reaching Number 1 but receiving a less favorable reviews) and again in 2004 when the new version sold over a million copies.
It reached Number 3 at Christmas 1985. It charted again in 1989. It has then reached the Top 40 every year since 2004.
With sales of over 3.7 million, the song is the second biggest seller of all time, and is one of only two songs to sell over 3 million copies. A truly unbelievable chart achievement. But perhaps its biggest achievement is helping to raise over £120 million for charity through the Band Aid concert follow-ups.
Sales were reported as 3.79 million.
In December 2017 combined sales were reported as 3.8 million.