The following letter should be read in Rik Mayall’s distinctive voice for maximum effect. Should that not be possible, and because most of you deserve it, I’m also including a recording of the letter being read by Rik’s comedy partner, Adrian Edmondson. It’s taken from the Letters of Note: Music audiobook, which can and should be bought at Audible. This letter, and by extension the audio, contains some filthy language. To receive these letters in your inbox, sign up for the newsletter…
On November 25th, 1984, dozens of the brightest stars on the British music scene descended upon SARM West Studios in London to unite as Band Aid, a supergroup brought together by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to record the song, “Do They Know It's Christmas?” in a wildly successful effort to raise money for those suffering in the devastating famine in Ethiopia. The day after the recording session—according to his memoir, Bigger than Hitler – Better than Christ—the Young Ones’ Rik Mayall wrote a letter of complaint to Geldof.
26th November 1984
Love your work—or I did until I turned up yesterday at Air Studios to do my bit for Band Aid. What in the name of sweet Fanny fucking Nightingale is going on? All I wanted to do was join my pier group of international stars from the world of pop and rock and record a simple tune which might bring much needed food and provisions to the starving in Africa. But oh no. No, no, no, no, no. Absolutely ruddy bloomin’ well not.
Picture the scene. That’s the one. There I am walking towards Air Studios just as that Phil Collins is going in. I called to him but he pretended not to hear me. Between you and me Bob, I’ve never liked him. There’s something a bit seedy about him. Something not quite right. And those bloody awful records. Anyway, I was on my way in after him when this enormous bloke in a bomber jacket blocked my passage. “Ooer” I thought but figured this was probably just some sort of joke dreamt up by one of my great popstar mates like Francis Rossi or Kool from Kool and the Gang. The bloke said, “We don’t want your sort around here.” I laughed knowingly but he was deadly serious. I told him to go and tell you that I had arrived and that I had come to do my bit. When he came back a few minutes later, he lied and said that he had spoken to you and you had told him to tell me to fuck off.
It was then that Simon Le Bon arrived with his all-girl backing band. I called across to him and told him there had been a horrible mix up but he pretended he didn’t recognise me. What is wrong with these people? So then I spoke to the big bloke in the bomber jacket again and it was then that he beat me up. Yes Bob, perhaps you should read that sentence again. That’s right, I was beaten up at a charity recording. Your charity recording. How’s that make you feel?
So there I was lying on the pavement when a limo pulls up next to me and out climbs Boy George with George Michael and Bananarama and they all definitely recognised me as they stepped over me and went inside, even though they pretended that they didn’t. You can just tell.
Undeterred (no offence), I went around to the back of the building where I managed to find a window that was ajar. I climbed through it and imagine my horror when I fell head first into a toilet bowl. Now you know me Bob, I’m well known for not swallowing, but on this occasion I had been taken by surprise and I managed to swallow about half a gallon of toilet water and something that I can only describe as “solid”. This made me feel sick but I decided I would press on and I managed to make my way through to the studio. I’ll say this for you Bob, you got some big stars there: Boneo, Paul Wella, Chris Cross—it was wall-to-ceiling talent and just as I was taking in the sheer enormity of it all and chatting star-to-star with various top rock legends like Paul Young, I overheard you tell the security guard to “Get that twat with the shit in his hair out of here.” All I can presume is that this was a joke on your part that backfired because the security guard in question did actually throw me out.
Obviously if this is all a great-mates-together music biz joke that you’re all playing on me then I want you to know that I’m completely comfortable with that and love everyone as though they were my brother—or sister. But if it isn’t, then you’re all a bunch of jealous talentless fuck-holes.
And another thing—you should seriously consider rerouting some of the funds from Ethiopia in order to get yourself some proper professional celebrity endorsement from light entertainment giants like me. You’d make much more money in the long run but you’re probably too mean and spiteful to realise it.
Anyway Bob, get back to me. Soon. Say “hi” to Midge,