Stars including One Direction and Rita Ora have joined forces to record a new Band Aid song.
Some of the biggest names in music including Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding and Bono are singing on the reworked version of Do They Know It’s Christmas?.
The new recording marks the 30th anniversary of the song, which was originally put together to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia, and is expected to raise millions to ease Africa’s Ebola crisis.
As singers arrived at the studio in London’s Notting Hill to record the track, Bob Geldof revealed George Osborne called him this morning to reveal he would waive VAT on the single.
The move means 100% of the money raised by the song will go to charity.
Geldof said: “I spoke to the Chancellor about five minutes ago and he agreed to forgo the VAT on the record.”
He added: “Amazing – that the Government has just said ’fine, keep the tax’.
“The record, it’s a song, it’s a track, but it’s an event, and the next stage now is to turn this into a
phenomenon like it was in the ’80s, and the only way to do that is to get people to buy the thing.
“Spare me this free economy. Spare me Spotify and YouTube. There is a donate button on YouTube. Hit the donate button.”
And Geldof revealed that, while many of the pop stars taking part were bleary-eyed at such an early start, they were all “excited” to be there.
Asked what the atmosphere was like inside the recording studio, he said: “It very much reminds me of 30 years ago. Everyone is bleary – pop singers, as George Osborne said, they are not very good in the morning, are they?”
Geldof added: “It is cool. People are excited and that excitement builds. They are glad to be here.”
One Direction heart-throb Harry Styles woke up early to take part in the recording – his second big charity performance in a matter of hours.
The 20-year-old, who performed with his band in EastEnders’ Albert Square during the Children In Need television extravaganza last night, was among the first to arrive for the session.
Despite the early hour, dozens of fans were there to greet the star, whose hits include The Wake Up Song, with at least one bursting into tears.
He was swiftly followed by his bandmate Niall Horan, who said: “To be involved and get invited by Sir Bob to do this is just insane, so it’s a privilege to be here.”
Asked what he hoped to achieve, he added: “Hopefully it gets to number one and it raises a lot of money for a really worthy cause.”
Chart-topping singer Rita Ora was the first to show up at the studio, despite fears commitments to BBC1 talent show The Voice, which is filmed in Salford, would prevent her from taking part.
Sam Smith, Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Emeli Sande will also sing on the single, which features lyrics reworked to reflect the Ebola crisis.
Organisers hope the track will be completed in time for its first public performance during tomorrow night’s edition of The X Factor.
The new lyrics appear in the second and third verses of the song and refer to the risks of cross-infection from comforting Ebola victims.
Geldof has said of the track: “It really doesn’t matter if you don’t like this song. It really doesn’t matter if you don’t like the artists, it really doesn’t matter if it turns out to be a lousy recording – what you have to do is buy this thing.”
Other artists taking part include Elbow, Disclosure, Seal, Jessie Ware, Sinead O’Connor and Clean Bandit.
U2 frontman Bono, who sang on the original recording, took a dig at rich countries which fail to honour aid pledges as he arrived.
He said: “We’ve been trying to make this kind of event a thing of the past - we want to make Band Aid history – for quite some time.
“If every country had the values of Great Britain and kept the promises they make at these big G8 meetings and the like we wouldn’t have to be standing here.”