Paul Weller didn’t want anything to do with Band Aid, and if it wasn’t for charity, he would have never accepted the offer to participate in the single. Although it was all for a noble cause, it was an experience which left Weller firmly out of his comfort zone.
Bob Geldof was the mastermind behind the Christmas charity single, and he felt compelled to do something after seeing footage of starving children in Ethiopia. Geldof quickly began to make phone calls, the first being to Midge Ure. From there, the two contacted almost every significant name in British music, and they assembled an all-star cast for a cause bigger than themselves.
As much as Weller would have liked to have said no, he understood the importance of the famine in Africa, and it would have been selfish to refuse to participate. However, it thrust him into unfamiliar territory, and the former Jam frontman felt greatly uncomfortable in the company of Britain’s biggest pop stars.
Artists Weller shot the video alongside the likes of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Wham, U2, Culture Club and Status Quo. Nobody was quite on his wavelength, and he later claimed “everyone” apart from himself was sniffing cocaine on set, which left him feeling even more secluded.
Weller admitted in a Q&A session with fans: “[The video shoot] was horrible. Everyone was getting off doing blow in the toilets. It probably would have been all right for me in the ’90s, but I wasn’t into all that then. I was totally out of my comfort zone.”
His behaviour on the set rubbed his fellow musicians up the wrong way. After several hours and feeling like he’d been victimised, George Michael eventually reached boiling point, which led to him snapping at The Style Council leader.
“The musicians in England had been slagging each off all year, and everyone kind of forgot about it for the day,” Michael later remembered. “The only person who didn’t succumb to the charitable nature of the day was Paul Weller, who decided to have a go at me in front of everybody,”.
Weller has since reflected upon his behaviour during this period and admitted that his ego was out of control. Reminiscing upon that period with BBC 6 Music, he told host Lauren Laverne, “It’s always easy to say these things in hindsight, but I can see how far up my own arse I’d got at that time!”
Watch the video for Band Aid below, and see if you can spot the discomfort written all over Paul Weller’s face.