Do They Know It's Christmas? was written by Geldof and Ure after Geldof had seen a BBC report by Michael Buerk highlighting the famine of Ethiopia and wanted to raise money. Geldof kept a November appointment with BBC Radio 1 DJ Richard Skinner to appear on his show and he used his airtime to publicise the idea for the charity single.
Geldof called many of the most popular British and Irish performers of the time, persuading them to give their time free. The recording studio gave Band Aid no more than 24 free hours to record and mix the record, on 25 November 1984. The recording took place between 11am and 7pm, and was filmed by director Nigel Dick to be released as the pop video though some basic tracks had been recorded the day before at Midge Ure's home studio. The first tracks to be recorded were the group / choir choruses which were filmed by the international press. The footage was rushed to newsrooms where it aired while the remainder of the recording process continued.
After Live Aid, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was re-released in late 1985 in a set that included a special-edition 'picture disc' version, modeled after the Live Aid logo with 'Band' in place of 'Live'. An added bonus, "One Year On" (a statement from Geldof and Ure on the telephone) was available as a b-side. "One Year On" can also be found in transcript form in a booklet which was included in the DVD set of Live Aid, the first disc of which features the BBC news report, as well as the Band Aid video.
Also, playing instruments in the video includes Danny Goffey (Supergrass), Thom Yorke & Jonny Greenwood(Radiohead), Sir Paul McCartney, Francis Healy, Andy Dunlop & Dougie Payne (Travis), Justin Hawkins & Dan Hawkins (The Darkness) and Charlie Simpson (Busted).