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Charity single

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Charity single

A charity record (also known as a charity single) is a release of a song for a specific charitable cause.

Ex-Beatle George Harrison's "Bangla Desh" single in 1971 is commonly acknowledged as the first ever purpose-made charity single – in this case to help fund relief efforts following the 1970 Bhola cyclone and the Bangladesh Liberation War. The money raised was donated to UNICEF, as were takings from Harrison's all-star charity concert (again, the first of its kind) held at Madison Square Garden, New York, and its spin-off live album and concert film.

Some of the other early charity records came from the January 1979 Music for UNICEF Concert, with the likes of ABBA's "Chiquitita" and the Bee Gees' "Too Much Heaven" released as singles, all the royalties from which went to UNICEF. Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in November 1984 began the revolution of the charity record, which would be popularised throughout the 1980s.

In the United States, charity records reached their peak with USA for Africa's "We Are the World" in 1985, but then essentially died out afterwards. In the United Kingdom, however, charity singles (especially Comic Relief), have become annual hits.

Purpose-made "charity singles" however were not the first charity records. As early as 1956, The Lord's Taveners released a 78 rpm disc which contained six tracks donated by popular artists at the time. This was made with the gratitude of The Decca Record Company and the entire profits of the record together with the royalties and fees from artists, publishers, etc., were donated to The National Playing Fields Association. This was the first charity record to make the UK charts and reached Number 2. Due to its success, it was followed by a second compilation in 1957.


Side 1 Out Of Town - Dickie Valentine My September Love - Joan Regan The Theme From The Threepenny Opera - Winifred Atwell Side 2 No Other Love - Dave King A Tear Fell - Lita Roza It's Almost Tomorrow - David Whitfield


Side 1 The Johnston Brothers - Around the World Billy Cotton - Puttin' on the Style Jimmy Young - When I Fall in Love Side 2 Max Bygraves - A White Sport Coat The Beverley Sisters - Freight Train Tommy Steele - Butterfly

Notable charity singles


Release Date Title Artists Charity/Cause Highest Chart Position
July 1971 "Bangla Desh" George Harrison UNICEF fund for Bangladesh refugees 10 (US), 23 (UK), 2 (Switzerland), 3 (Norway), 7 (Netherlands)
February 1975 "Santa Never Made It Into Darwin" Bill and Boyd Rebuilding Darwin after Cyclone Tracy devastation 1 (Australia)
December 1976 "Si Se Puede" Los Lobos, Ersie, Raul P. Brambila "United Farm Workers"
July 1979 "I Don't Like Mondays" Boomtown Rats Grover Cleveland Elementary School Shooting 1 (UK)


Release Date Title Artists Charity/Cause Highest Chart Position
November 1984 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid famine in Ethiopia 1 (UK), 1 (Australia), 1 (Netherlands)
December 1984 "Last Christmas"/"Everything She Wants" Wham! Ethiopian Famine appeal (not originally a charity record, but George Michael acceded to give royalties to Band Aid) 2 (UK), 2 (Netherlands)
March 1985 "Tears Are Not Enough" Northern Lights famine in Ethiopia 1 (Canada)
March 1985 "We Are the World" USA for Africa famine in Ethiopia 1 (US), 1 (UK), 1 (Australia), 1 (Netherlands)
May 1985 "Stars" Hear 'n Aid famine in Ethiopia 26 (UK)
June 1985 "You'll Never Walk Alone" The Crowd Bradford City stadium fire 1 (UK), 1 (Ireland), 30 (Netherlands)
November 1985 "That's What Friends Are For" Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Elton John American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR) 1 (US), 16 (UK), 1 (Australia), 13 (Netherlands)
April 1986 "Living Doll" Cliff Richard and the cast of The Young Ones Comic Relief 1 (UK), 1 (Australia), 1 (Netherlands)
April 1986 "Heroes/A Long Way To Go" The County Line featuring Suzi Quatro, Bronski Beat and Wendy Roberts Children in Need 76 (UK)
May 1986 "Everybody Wants to Run the World" Tears For Fears Sport Aid 5 (UK)
March 1987 "Amor & Paz" (Amor E A Paz) AUA (Artistas Unidos da América) famine and poverty around the world 3 (US), 2 (Portugal), 1 (Canada)
March 1987 "Let It Be" Ferry Aid Herald of Free Enterprise disaster at Zeebrugge 1 (UK), 4 (Netherlands)
November 1987 "The Wishing Well" G.O.S.H. Great Ormond Street Hospital Wishing Well Appeal 22 (UK)
December 1987 "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" Mel & Kim (Mel Smith and Kim Wilde) Comic Relief 3 (UK)
February 1988 "Man In The Mirror" Michael Jackson Michael Jackson Burn Center, Childhelp, United Negro College Fund.[1] 1 (USA), 1 (UK R&B), 13 (Netherlands)
May 1988 "With a Little Help from My Friends" Wet Wet Wet ChildLine 1 (UK)
July 1988 "Another Part of Me" Michael Jackson Michael Jackson Burn Center, Childhelp 1 (US R&B), 8 (Netherlands)
August 1988 "Running All Over the World" Status Quo Sport Aid 17 (UK)
February 1989 "Help!" Bananarama & La na nee nee noo noo (French and Saunders with Kathy Burke) Comic Relief 3 (UK), 24 (Netherlands)
February 1989 "Pour toi Arménie" Charles Aznavour & many other French artists Earthquake in Armenia 1 (FR)
April 1989 "Ferry Cross the Mersey" The Christians, Holly Johnson, Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden, Stock Aitken Waterman Hillsborough disaster 1 (UK), 21 (Netherlands)
December 1989 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid II famine in Ethiopia 1 (UK), 20 (Netherlands)


Release Date Title Artists Charity/Cause Highest Chart Position
April 1990 "Use It Up and Wear It Out" Pat and Mick Help a London Child 22 (UK)
June 1990 "You've Got a Friend" Big Fun, Sonia, featuring Gary Barnacle on saxophone ChildLine 14 (UK)
February 1991 "Voices that Care" Voices that Care To boost the morale of U.S. troops involved in Operation Desert Storm 11 (US)
March 1991 "The Stonk" Hale and Pace (backing band includes David Gilmour) Comic Relief 1 (UK)
November 1991 "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" George Michael, Elton John 10 charities for AIDS, children and education 1 (UK), 1 (US), 1 (Netherlands)
March 1992 "One" U2 Proceeds going towards AIDS research 7 (UK), 1 (Ireland), 10 (US), 4 (Australia)
April 1992 "(I Want To Be) Elected" Smear Campaign (Bruce Dickinson, Rowan Atkinson, Angus Deayton) Comic Relief 9 (UK)
September 1992 "Suicide Is Painless" Manic Street Preachers The Spastics Society (now SCOPE) 7 (UK)
November 1992 "Heal The World" Michael Jackson Heal the World Foundation 1 (Spain), 2 (UK), 2 (Ire), 2 (Aus), 4 (Netherlands)
February 1993 "Stick It Out" Right Said Fred and friends Comic Relief 4 (UK)
December 1993 "Gone Too Soon" Michael Jackson Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, AIDS-related research, 3 (Zimbabwe), 20 (Netherlands)
May 1994 "Absolutely Fabulous" Pet Shop Boys with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley (of the television series Absolutely Fabulous) Comic Relief 6 (UK), 2 (Australia)
March 1995 "Love Can Build a Bridge" Cher, Chrissie Hynde, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton Comic Relief 1 (UK), 41 (Netherlands)
November 1995 "Earth Song" Michael Jackson Heal the World Foundation, Environmental Awareness 1 (UK), 1 (Spain), 1 (Sweden), 3 (Netherlands)
December 1996 "Knockin' on Heaven's Door/Throw These Guns Away" Ted Christopher (aka Dunblane), Mark Knopfler Aid of victims of the Dunblane massacre 1 (UK)
March 1997 "Mama"/"Who Do You Think You Are" The Spice Girls Comic Relief 1 (UK), 13 (Australia), 3 (Netherlands)
September 1997 "Candle in the Wind 1997"/"Something About The Way You Look Tonight" Elton John Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund 1 (US), 1 (UK), 1 (Australia), 1 (Netherlands)
October 1997 "Perfect Day" Various Artists, see specific article for full list Children in Need 1 (UK), 6 (Netherlands)
April 1998 "Release" The Tea Party White Ribbon Campaign
March 1999 "When the Going Gets Tough" Boyzone Comic Relief 1 (UK)
November 1999 "Talking in Your Sleep/Love Me" Martine McCutcheon Children In Need 6 (UK)
December 1999 "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)" Various Artists Children's Promise 14 (UK)


Release Date Title Artists Charity/Cause Highest Chart Position
December 2000 "Never Had a Dream Come True" S Club 7 Children In Need 1 (UK), 10 (US)
December 2000 "If That Were Me" Melanie C Homeless charity 18 (UK), 22 (SWE), 29 (AUS), 41 (Netherlands)
March 2001 "Uptown Girl" Westlife Comic Relief 1 (UK), 6 (Australia), 2 (Netherlands)
September 2001 El Último Adiós (The Last Goodbye) Various Artists American Red Cross and United Way of America
September 2001 "By the Sword" Emilie Autumn AmeriCares and American Red Cross
December 2001 "What More Can I Give" Michael Jackson United We Stand: What More Can I Give
October 2001 "What's Going On" All Star Tribute Artists Against AIDS Worldwide and 9/11 victims 27 (US), 6 (UK), 38 (Australia), 26 (Netherlands)
November 2001 "Have You Ever" S Club 7 Children In Need 1 (UK), 48 (Australia)
December 2001 "Cry" Michael Jackson 9/11 Relief 7 (Eurochart), 16 (Denmark), 39 (Netherlands)
December 2001 "Never Too Far/Hero Medley" Mariah Carey 9/11 victims 5 (Japan), 81 (US), 67 (Netherlands)
July 2002 "Your Song" Elton John and Alessandro Safina Sport Relief 4 (UK), 88 (Netherlands)
November 2002 "Don't Let Me Down" Will Young Children In Need 2 (UK),
March 2003 "Spirit in the Sky" Gareth Gates and the Kumars Comic Relief 1 (UK), 11 (Netherlands)
September 2003 "Pandora's Kiss/Don't Give Up" Louise Breast Cancer Care 5 (UK)
November 2003 "I'm Your Man" Shane Richie Children in Need 2 (UK)
July 2004 "Some Girls" Rachel Stevens Sport Relief 2 (UK)
November 2004 "I'll Stand By You" Girls Aloud Children in Need 1 (UK), 85 (Netherlands)
November 2004 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid 20 famine in Ethiopia 1 (UK), 9 (Australia), 3 (Netherlands)
December 2004 "Twelve Days of Christmas" Dreamtime Christmas All-Stars Starlight Foundation and Youth Off the Streets 26 (Australia)
December 2004 "Father And Son" Ronan Keating featuring Yusuf Islam Band Aid Foundation 2 (UK), 84 (Netherlands)
December 2004 "Come On Aussie, Come On" Shannon Noll Australian Red Cross' Good Start Breakfast Club 2 (Australia)
December 2004 "We are the world (Cantonese)" Various Chinese Artists 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake 1 (Hong Kong)
February 2005 "Grief Never Grows Old" One World Project 2004 Asian Tsunami relief 4 (UK)
February 2005 "Evie Parts 1, 2 and 3" The Wrights Stevie Wright, The Salvation Army and 2004 Asian Tsunami relief 2 (Australia)
March 2005 "All About You/You've Got a Friend" McFly Comic Relief 1 (UK)
March 2005 "Is This the Way to Amarillo?" Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay Comic Relief 1 (UK)
March 2005 "All Around the World" ProgAID 2004 Asian Tsunami relief
October 2005 "Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?" The North American Hallowe'en Prevention Initiative UNICEF 4 (CAN)
November 2005 "A Night to Remember" Liberty X Children in Need 6 (UK)
July 2006 "Please, Please/Don't Stop Me Now" Mcfly Sport Relief 1 (UK)
November 2006 "Downtown" Emma Bunton Children in Need 3 (UK)
December 2006 "Great Divide" Hanson Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU) at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa
April 2007 "I'll Stand by You" Carrie Underwood Idol Gives Back 6 (US)
2007 "Walk This Way" Girls Aloud vs Sugababes Comic Relief 1 (UK)
2007 "Any Dream Will Do" Lee Mead Children in Need 2 (UK)
2007 "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" Matt Lucas and Peter Kay Comic Relief 1 (UK)
October 2007 "Sing" Annie Lennox in collaboration with Madonna and 22 other artists HIV/AIDS organization Treatment Action Campaign 29 (U.S. Adult Contemporary) 18 (U.S. Hot Club Play) 161 (UK)
November 2007 "Crazy Place" Esmee Denters Oxfam N/A
November 2007 "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)" Spice Girls Children in Need 11 (UK)90 (US), 52 (Netherlands)
December 2007 "What A Wonderful World" Eva Cassidy and Katie Melua British Red Cross 1 (UK)
March 2008 "Better in Time/Footprints in the Sand" Leona Lewis Sport Relief 2 (UK)
September 2008 "Just Stand Up" Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Fergie, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Natasha Bedingfield, Miley Cyrus, Leona Lewis, Carrie Underwood, Keyshia Cole, LeAnn Rimes, Ashanti, Ciara Stand Up to Cancer 11 (US), 3 (Italy), 10 (Canada), 26 (UK), 39 (Australia)
October/November 2008 "Hero" The X Factor Finalists Help for Heroes[2] 1 (UK)
November 2008 "Follow My Lead" Justin Timberlake, featuring Esmee Denters Shriners Hospitals for Children N/A
December 2008 "Once Upon a Christmas Song" Geraldine McQueen NSPCC 5 (UK)
March 2009 "Just Can't Get Enough (Depeche Mode song)" The Saturdays Comic Relief 2 (UK)
April 2009 "Domani 21/04.09" Mauro Pagani 2009 L'Aquila earthquake 1 (Italy)
July 2009 "Home" La Toya Jackson AIDS Project Los Angeles
August 2009 "Send It On" Demi Lovato, Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez Disney's Friends for Change 20 (US)
October 2009 "I Got Soul" Young Soul Rebels War Child UK 10 (UK), 19 (IRE)
October 2009 "Kaya Natin Ito! (We can do it!)" 60+ Artists including Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez, Janno Gibbs, Jaya, Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, KC Concepcion, The Opera, The Company, Lea Salonga, Rico Blanco, Charice Pempengco, Arnel Pineda, Piolo Pascual, Sharon Cuneta and many more. Typhoon Ketsana (2009) and Typhoon Parma (2009) relief
November 2009 "You Are Not Alone" The X Factor Finalists Great Ormond Street Hospital 1 (UK), 1 (IRE)


Release Date Title Artists Charity/Cause Highest Chart Position
January 2010 "Oh Africa" Akon, Keri Hilson Konfidence 4 (Hungary)
January 2010 "Together Again" Evanescence 2010 Haiti earthquake relief (United Nations Foundation)
February 2010 "Everybody Hurts"[3][4] Alexandra Burke, Cheryl Cole, JLS, James Blunt, James Morrison, Joe McElderry, Jon Bon Jovi, Kylie Minogue, Leona Lewis, Mariah Carey, Michael Bublé, Mika, Miley Cyrus, Robbie Williams, Rod Stewart, Susan Boyle, Take That, Westlife 2010 Haiti earthquake relief 1 (UK)
February 2010 "We Are the World 25 for Haiti" 70+ artists, including Michael Jackson(original recording from 1985), Akon, Tony Bennett, Brandy, Toni Braxton, Harry Connick Jr., Miley Cyrus, Celine Dion, Snoop Dogg, Josh Groban, Jennifer Hudson, Enrique Iglesias, LL Cool J, Janet Jackson, Kanye West, Gladys Knight, Jason Mraz, Pink, Carlos Santana, Jordin Sparks, Barbra Streisand, Usher,etc. 2010 Haiti earthquake relief 2 (US)
February 2010 "Make a Wave" Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas Disney's Friends for Change 84 (US)
March 2010 "(People of Haiti) 1Radio For Haiti" artists, including all DJ's from 2010 Haiti earthquake relief (Haiti Hospital Appeal)
March 2010 "Gracias a la Vida" Beto Cuevas, Fher, Juanes, Miguel Bosé, Alejandro Sanz, Laura Pausini, Michael Bublé, Julieta Venegas and Juan Luis Guerra. 2010 Chile earthquake relief
March 2010 "Que Cante la Vida" Alberto Plaza, Michael Bublé, Alejandro Sanz, Julieta Venegas, Laura Pausini, Juanes, among others. 2010 Chile earthquake relief
March 2010 "Wavin' Flag" K'naan, Nelly Furtado, Sam Roberts, Avril Lavigne, Pierre Bouvier, Tyler Connolly, Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, LIGHTS, Deryck Whibley, Serena Ryder, Jacob Hoggard, Emily Haines, Hawksley Workman, Drake, Chin Injeti, Ima, Pierre Lapointe, Elisapie Isaac, Esthero, Corb Lund, Fefe Dobson, Nikki Yanofsky, Matt Mays, Justin Nozuka and Justin Bieber,etc. 2010 Haiti earthquake relief 1 (Canada)
August 2010 "A Charity Record" Undiscovered Country, Be Black, Sammy Paul, Ellee Ven, Daniel Fern, etc. RAINN
October 2010 "In the Army Now" Status Quo and the Corps of Army Choir Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes 31 (UK)
November 2010 "Heroes" The X Factor 2010 Finalists Help for Heroes 1 (UK)
December 2010 "Need U Need Us" Nigel Palmer Gib Mission Africa 1 (Gibraltar-UK)
March 2011 "Gold Forever" The Wanted Comic Relief 3 (UK)
April 2011 "Dareka no Tame ni (What Can I Do for Someone?)" (ja) AKB48 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami relief 17 (Billboard Japan), 2 (RIAJ)
May 2011 "Light For Japan" Sparrow 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami relief
June 2011 "Super Mario Bros Theme Acapella" Jimmy Wong 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami relief
June 2011 "We Can Change the World" Bridgit Mendler Disney's Friends for Change
March 2012 "Rise" McClain Sisters Disney's Friends for Change
September 2012 "Ronan" Taylor Swift Stand Up to Cancer 16 (US)
December 2012 "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother Justice Collective Hillsborough disaster 1 (UK)


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