Every Number 1 charity single on the Official Chart

Over 50 charity records have reached the summit of the Official Singles Chart.

The charity single is an institution that is a more recent phenomenon than you might think. 

The first song widely recognised as a purpose-made charity single was released in 1971 by George Harrison; his track Bangla Desh raised money for UNICEF to help refugees following the 1970 Bhola cyclone and the Bangladesh Liberation War. The song, which reached Number 10 on the Official Singles Chart, was centrepiece of his charity Concert for Bangladesh held in New York.

Since then hundreds of charity records have been released, seen as both a tool to inspire the public to donate to cause and an easy and relatively inexpensive way for individuals to contribute. 

57 charity records have reached Number 1 on the Official UK Singles Chart, with the first being Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid in 1984. Led by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, the supergroup - including George Michael, Duran Duran and Boy George - released the song to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia. The single was recorded in just 24 hours and massively exceeded initial expectations, topping the chart for 5 weeks and claiming that year's Official Christmas Number 1. Its sales to date stand at 3.8 million, making it the second bestselling single ever in the UK.

Three more versions of the Do They Know It's Christmas? with different performers - released in 1989, 2004 and 2014 - have also reached Number 1, making it one of three songs that have had four different versions go to Number 1 (the other two being Unchained Melody and You'll Never Walk Alone). 

There's one charity single that was even bigger than the original Band Aid: Elton John's Candle In The Wind 97/Something About The Way You Look Tonight. Released after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the single was released to raise money for her memorial fund and has sold 4.93 million copies to become the UK's all-time bestseller.

Charity singles released for TV charity marathon Comic Relief are also among the most successful, notching up 13 chart-toppers, starting with the event's first, Cliff Richard's Living Doll, in 1986. While many Comic Relief singles are by big-name acts of the time, including Spice Girls and Boyzone, to drive sales, several are comedy songs inkeeping with the spirit of the charity. In 2003 Gareth Gates collaborated with TV funny family The Kumars for a cover of Spirit In The Sky, and in 2005 comedian Peter Kay teamed up with Tony Christie to re-release (Is This The Way To) Amarillo, which became that year's best-selling single.

MORE: The best-selling Comic Relief singles revealed


Image: Shutterstock

Recent years have seen YouTuber and dad-blogger LadBaby score two consecutive Christmas Number 1s in 2018 and 2019, raising money for foodbank charity The Trussell Trust, and in April this year, 99-year-old war veteran Captain Tom Moore topped the Official Chart with Michael Ball collaboration You'll Never Walk Alone. After raising more than £29 million for the NHS during the coronavirus crisis, he teamed up with his favourite singer on the track, which debuted at Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart, making Captain Tom the oldest artist to score a Number 1 single in UK chart history.

Every Number 1 charity song on the Official UK Singles Chart

TITLE ARTIST YEAR CHARITY
DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID 1984 BAND AID TRUST
WE ARE THE WORLD USA FOR AFRICA 1985 FAMINE IN ETHIOPIA
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE THE CROWD 1985 BRADFORD CITY STADIUM FIRE
DANCING IN THE STREET DAVID BOWIE & MICK JAGGER 1985 BAND AID TRUST
LIVING DOLL CLIFF RICHARD 1986 COMIC RELIEF
LET IT BE FERRY AID 1987 HERALD OF FREE ENTERPRISE DISASTER AT ZEEBRUGGE
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS WET WET WET 1988 CHILDLINE
FERRY CROSS THE MERSEY GERRY MARSDEN, PAUL MCCARTNEY, HOLLY JOHNSON AND THE CHRISTIANS 1989 HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER
DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID II 1989 BAND AID TRUST
SACRIFICE/HEALING HANDS ELTON JOHN 1990 AIDS CHARITIES
THE STONK HALE AND PACE 1991 COMIC RELIEF
DON'T LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON ME GEORGE MICHAEL & ELTON JOHN 1991 10 CHARITIES FOR AIDS, CHILDREN AND EDUCATION
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY QUEEN 1991 TERRANCE HIGGINS TRUST
FIVE LIVE EP GEORGE MICHAEL, QUEEN, LISA STANSFIELD 1993 MERCURY PHOENIX TRUST
LOVE CAN BUILD A BRIDGE CHER, CHRISSIE HYNDE, NENEH CHERRY, ERIC CLAPTON 1995 COMIC RELIEF
EARTH SONG MICHAEL JACKSON 1995 HEAL THE WORLD FOUNDATION
KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR/THROW THESE GUNS AWAY TED CHRISTOPHER, MARK KNOPFLER 1996 VICTIMS OF THE DUNBLANE MASSACRE
MAMA/WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? SPICE GIRLS 1997 COMIC RELIEF
CANDLE IN THE WIND 97/SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT ELTON JOHN 1997 DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES MEMORIAL FUND
PERFECT DAY VARIOUS ARTISTS 1997 CHILDREN IN NEED
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH BOYZONE 1999 COMIC RELIEF
MILLENNIUM PRAYER CLIFF RICHARD 1999 CHILDREN'S PROMISE
NEVER HAD A DREAM COME TRUE S CLUB 7 2000 CHILDREN IN NEED
UPTOWN GIRL WESTLIFE 2001 COMIC RELIEF
HAVE YOU EVER S CLUB 7 2001 CHILDREN IN NEED
SPIRIT IN THE SKY GARETH GATES AND THE KUMARS 2003 COMIC RELIEF
I'LL STAND BY YOU GIRLS ALOUD 2004 CHILDREN IN NEED
AGAINST ALL ODDS STEVE BROOKSTEIN 2005 ASIAN TSUNAMI FUND
DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID 20 2004 FAMINE IN ETHIOPIA
ALL ABOUT YOU/YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND MCFLY 2005 COMIC RELIEF
(IS THIS THE WAY TO) AMARILLO? TONY CHRISTIE FT PETER KAY 2005 COMIC RELIEF
PLEASE, PLEASE/DON'T STOP ME NOW MCFLY 2006 SPORT RELIEF
WALK THIS WAY GIRLS ALOUD VS SUGABABES 2007 COMIC RELIEF
I'M GONNA ROLL (500 MILES) MATT LUCAS AND PETER KAY 2007 COMIC RELIEF
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD EVA CASSIDY AND KATIE MELUA 2007 BRITISH RED CROSS
HERO THE X FACTOR FINALISTS 2008 HELP FOR HEROES
BARRY ISLANDS IN THE STREAM JENKINS/WEST/JONES/GIBB 2009 COMIC RELIEF
YOU ARE NOT ALONE THE X FACTOR FINALISTS 2009 GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL
OFFICIAL BBC CHILDREN IN NEED MEDLEY PETER KAY'S ALL STAR BAND 2009 CHILDREN IN NEED
EVERYBODY HURTS HELPING HAITI 2010 HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF
LOVE YOU MORE JLS 2010 CHILDREN IN NEED
HEROES THE X FACTOR FINALISTS 2010 HELP FOR HEROES
WISHING ON A STAR THE X FACTOR FINALISTS 2011 TOGETHER FOR SHORT LIVES
WHEREVER YOU ARE MILITARY WIVES WITH GARETH MALONE 2011 ROYAL BRITISH LEGION, SSAFA FORCES HELP
SING GARY BARLOW & THE COMMONWEALTH BAND 2012 QUEEN'S DIAMOND JUBILEE TRUST
HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MY BROTHER JUSTICE COLLECTIVE 2012 HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER
IMPOSSIBLE JAMES ARTHUR 2012 TOGETHER FOR SHORT LIVES
ONE WAY OR ANOTHER (TEENAGE KICKS) ONE DIRECTION 2013 COMIC RELIEF
SKYSCRAPER SAM BAILEY 2013 GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL, TOGETHER FOR SHORT LIVES
LET'S GET READY TO RHUMBLE PJ & DUNCAN 2013 CHILDLINE
A BRIDGE OVER YOU LEWISHAM & GREENWICH NHS CHOIR 2013 NHS CHARITIES, CARERS UK, MIND
WAKE ME UP GARETH MALONE'S ALL STAR CHOIR 2014 CHILDREN IN NEED
DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID 30 2014 AID FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY EBOLA
LAY ME DOWN SAM SMITH & JOHN LEGEND 2015 COMIC RELIEF
BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER ARTISTS FOR GRENFELL 2017 VICTIMS OF THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE
WE BUILT THIS CITY (ON SAUSAGE ROLLS) LADBABY 2018 THE TRUSSELL TRUST
I LOVE SAUSAGE ROLLS LADBABY 2019 THE TRUSSELL TRUST
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE MICHAEL BALL, CAPTAIN TOM MOORE, NHS VOICES OF CARE CHOIR 2020 NHS CHARITIES TOGETHER
TIMES LIKE THESE BBC RADIO 1'S STAY HOME LIVE LOUNGE ALLSTARS 2020 COMIC RELIEF, CHILDREN IN NEED

©2020 Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.

Listen to every Number 1 charity single on our Spotify playlist below.