The former Ultravox frontman and Band Aid instigator talks about his varied career - as he begins a NZ tour.

Midge Ure has Ed Sheeran to thank for making him cool to his kids. Yes, Ure may have been the dashing moustached frontman of hit early 80s band Ultravox.

He may have co-written Do They Know It's Christmas? with Bob Geldof and got an OBE for his work on Band Aid.

But his daughters didn't think much of the brooding man in the old Vienna video. "They think it's hysterical," says the 61-year-old in his Glaswegian accent from his home in Bath ahead of a New Zealand tour starting tonight.

"Everything I do they take with a massive pinch of salt."


That was until the recording of last year's revival of Do They Know It's Christmas?.

"I got Brownie points from the girls during the Band Aid 30 recording when Ed Sheeran came up and kissed me on the head. They thought it was wonderful that Ed Sheeran knew who I was. But everything else I do is embarrassing."

The original Live Aid project in 1985 helped bring on the demise of Ultravox, the band he had joined in 1979 and then led to their fourth and biggest album Vienna.

Ure said he returned to the group to find that musically everybody had moved on, so called it quits after the resulting disappointing final album.

He still plays the synthesiser-based Ultravox songs in his solo acoustic shows.

But Ure's early musical career - and Band Aid - make him something of a Zelig figure in British pop.

Before Ultravox he was in the Rich Kids with former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock.

He formed studio supergroup Visage with Ultravox keyboardist Billy Currie, among others, and that band's Fade to Grey put the New Romantic movement in the charts in 1980, the same year Vienna was unleashing its synthesised beats on the world.


The strangest entry among Ure's crowded CV, though, is the short time in 1979 he spent in Thin Lizzy, the Irish hard rock band led by the late Phil Lynott.

"I first met him wandering around the streets of Glasgow when I was still living up there. And I took him back to my mum's house and she fed him because he was so ridiculously skinny and he remembered that."

After Ure made the move to London to be in the Rich Kids, he and Lynott became pals. So when Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore departed on a US tour, Lynott called Ure as a ring-in.

"It was like Judy Garland and one of those movies - star breaks a leg and she gets a chance to shine.

"There was I flying out to America on Concorde to go and work with Thin Lizzy. I am a guitarist first and foremost so for me it was an absolute joy - but knowing all the time that when the tour finished I was going back to Ultravox."

Lynott wasn't the last charismatic Irish rock figure Ure worked with, of course. "It's a Celt thing. I am kind of destined to hang out with all these Dubliners, I just think we are kindred spirits somewhere along the line."

His musical partnership with Geldof might only extend to one song but it's certainly an enduring one.

Watch UItravox play at Live Aid in 1984 here

While the 2014 revival of Do They Know It's Christmas? raised millions for Ebola epidemic relief efforts it came with a backlash - something Ure is still feeling bruised by.

"It was like doing 20 rounds with Mike Tyson. I still don't quite understand it at all. I can see why there would be a backlash if it was a new song and they thought the song was offensive.

"But it's a song that has been around for 30 years. It took people 30 years to decide the song was racist?

"It's a form of madness but a lot of it stems from the fact that you know, unfortunately, everybody has a phone and access to the internet and it's like giving idiots sharp knives - someone is going to get hurt."

Ure himself has released a string of solo albums since his first, The Gift, in 1985. But he keeps touring not just to promote them - he's just a sucker for playing live.

"When you become successful at your chosen profession, in music, you've worked for years playing every sleazy club - and you love it. You absolutely love it.

"The moment you become successful you stop doing it. You only do it once there is a new album out every two years.

"It wasn't until leaving Ultravox and finally the penny dropped, thinking, 'Hold on a second, I am not doing what I started doing. I was out doing this stuff long before I was allowed anywhere near a studio, why do you have to stop doing this?'

"When I realised that is what my main thing was, I have gone out and worked non-stop live all over the world for the last 30 years.

"Because it's what I do. It's what scratches my itch."