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The Simple Truth Campaign for Kurdish Refugees

The Simple Truth
In May of 1991 - Chris de Burgh was centre stage at another global event. THE SIMPLE TRUTH CAMPAIGN , which took its title from Chris' 1987 single of the same name, was organised to raise money for the Kurdish refugees and culminated in a benefit concert at London's Wembley Arena on 12 May. In the presence of the Princess of Wales, who requested that he play during her attendance, Chris sang DON'T PAY THE FERRYMAN and THE LADY IN RED. The finale of the concert saw Chris singing THE SIMPLE TRUTH, joined by a backing choir of world stars including MC Hammer and Tom Jones and watched by an estimated 500 million TV viewers around the world.

  
The Simple Truth single cover image - click to enlarge

 

The event, which Chris described as one of the highlights of his career and the subsequent sales of the single raised almost £60 million for the Red Cross.

Click on images to enlarge - or song titles to play streaming video
The Simple Truth concert 1991 - click to enlarge image 1   In October 1991 Chris gave the following interview to 'The Getaway Gazette' about how the event came together and it's impact.
Chris de Burgh October 1991
“It all happened very suddenly. I can give you a quick breakdown of how it all came together...”

“I got a call from Jeffrey Archer the novelist on Wednesday the 17th of April - I remember the exact day because I worked so hard on that thing -which was about three weeks before the show happened. The call was obviously quite out of the blue. I'd spoken to the guy before but I'd never met him. He said he was a big fan of my music and that's why he called me. He had my number on file because he's tried to invite me to lunch a few times, but I could never make it.
Anyway he just said 'Look, I think this idea might be right up your street.' and I said 'It is.' He asked if I knew anything about who in the music industry could attempt to put together a show of this magnitude. So I put him in touch with Mismanagement, my people, and then I had this brainstorm of using The Simple Truth.

So I rang him up and said 'I've got a song, I'm just sending It over to you this afternoon. I think if you listen to It and imagine the BBC footage of everything we've been seeing of these poor people being driven into the mountains and imagine the song with it, you'll find that this tune may work for you.' He called me back the moment he got it and said 'This is fantastic. Harvey Goldsmith (the promoter) thinks it's perfect, the BBC have gone mad for it, the Red Cross like it -we are going to call the whole event The Simple Truth campaign'. And, of course, I was overwhelmed, I was really chuffed. You Know, I think when you've got small children yourself and you see what was going on with the Kurdish people, it was just tragic.

A video was put together with the BBC footage, which I'm sure a lot of people saw, and it was just so moving. It had a tremendous impact on not only the people who donated money, but also on the prime movers in the whole operation worldwide -from America and Canada to Australia and Japan, they all got a copy of that video and they broadcast it. And although my song was originally released in 1987 and not written with the Kurdish situation in mind, it was dead on. Dead on.
The Simple Truth concert 1991 - click to enlarge image 2

 

Anyway, we flew the band in for the event with the help of Canadian Airlines -who were extremely generous and looked after my band coming in from Canada. A lot of people gave a lot of time, and a lot of their own personal money, to make this thing happen.
So, I went to London on May 10 and we did two days of rehearsal. Although we were only going to play three songs altogether, it was worth boning the whole thing up and getting it right. The actual show went out on Sunday the 12th and it was really an incredibly exciting event to be a part of. The fact that the BBC put the whole amazing show together without a hitch, worldwide via satellite -live -and it went around the world to an estimated 500 or 800 million viewers was just staggering. Nobody really knows the exact size of the viewing audience, to be honest, but it was global television and it was an immense achievement. I think everybody realised afterwards that it was the first time that so much had happened live via satellite. As for the concert itself, the finale was also immense. It was one of those moments in one's career you wish you could repeat again or bottle up or something. But I was very emotional at that point, and with the Kurdish band behind me and the knowledge that we were going out worldwide, it was an incredible thing to be involved. All the money went to the Red Cross and I donated The Simple Truth as a song - all monies earned from the record to it also. Another thing that was so great about the concert was the following day, when the whole of the front page of the London Evening Standard newspaper was a banner headline saying 'Who says we're tired of giving?'

The Simple Truth single cover image - click to enlarge IN AID OF...WHO?
"The only other thing I was disappointed by was the relative lack of success of The Simple Truth single itself. I can't really say any more than that but, funnily enough, one of the problems was that I couldn't promote it.
With the Band Aid thing, for example they did their own video and could promote the song -but I didn't think it appropriate for me to take personal kudos by appearing promoting the single. And I was offered all the promotion; the Wogan Show, the Aspel Show...all the major TV's.
  

We discussed these offers at length, and it was a pity because, in a way, it would have been great to raise more money, but I felt that I would be gaining a lot personally out of it -which I didn't deserve. So, it was that kind of a decision and, to be honest, I think I was right to take it -and that explains the disappointing chart position of the record in the UK. I couldn't promote it I couldn't talk to journalists about it - and, again, there were all sorts of interviews laid on. I just thought 'It's not about Chris de Burgh; it's about all the Kurdish refugees. In the event, the money raised was so massive, and my contribution - albeit small -really helped, I think, to make that into a massive amount.

An example of this is when I went to Portugal shortly afterwards. The Portuguese Red Cross, which is an important political arm of the government, I think -certainly, it's an Important organisation -put on a very special event for me. They invited me along, together with a lot of politicians, national radio, national television and the press, and they presented me with a medal for services to humanity. That was fantastic. I was absolutely thrilled.”

 

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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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