After 32 years, we still remember this day by one beautiful concert. Live Aid was a dual-venue concert held on 13 July 1985, organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for relief of the ongoing Ethiopian famine.
Billed as the ‘Global Jukebox’ the event was held at Wembley Stadium in London – England with 82,000 people and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – United States attended by 100,000 people.
On the same day, this concert inspired many other countries around the world such as Canada, Japan, Yugoslavia, Austria, Australia, Germany and the Soviet Union. This concert was the most ambitious international and one of the largest live broadcasts across 150 nations with an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion.
The Live Aid concert was conceived as a follow on to the successful charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” which was also the brainchild of Geldof and Ure, after in 1984 the images of millions of people from Ethiopia were shown in the UK on BBC News. Bob Geldof saw that report and together with Midge Ure they quickly co-wrote the song in the hope of raising money for famine relief.
Geldof contacted colleagues in the music industry and he persuaded them to record the single under the title “Band Aid” for free. The song was recorded on 25th November 1984 at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill – London, and was released four days later.
The song stayed at number one for five weeks in the UK and quickly became the fastest-selling single and raised £8 million, rather than the £70,000 Geldof and Ure had initially expected. Geldof then came up with an idea to set his sights on a huge concert just to raise further fund. But, the originally idea for a concert came from Boy George the lead singer of Culture Club.
The whole concert began at 12:00 British Summer Time at Wembley Stadium in UK and it continued at John F. Kennedy Stadium in the United States starting at 13:51. This concert least more than 16 hours.
Mick Jagger and David Bowie intended to perform an intercontinental duet with Bowie in London and Jagger in Philadelphia, but they had problems with synchronization and the solution for the problems finds David Richards – veteran music engineer who worked with Pink Floyd and Queen. David decided to create footage and sound mixes of Jagger and Bowie could perform to in their respective venues.
Each of the two main parts of the concert ended with Band Aid’s song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in United Kingdom and in the US concert ended with the song of the USA for Africa – “We Are the World”.
Interesting stuff is that Phil Collins performed at both concerts at Wembley Stadium and JFK utilizing the Concorde to get him from London to Philadelphia. He also played the drums for Eric Clapton and played with the reuniting surviving members of Led Zeppelin at JFK. On the Concorde flight, Phil encountered actress and singer Cher who was unaware of the concerts, but she attended the Philadelphia concert and can be seen performing as part of the concert’s “We Are The World” finale.
Artists who performed at Wembley: Status Quo, Style Council, Boomtown Rats, Adam Ant, Ultravox, Spandau Ballet, Elvis Costello, Nik Kershaw, Sade, Sting, Phil Collins, Howard Jones, Bryan Ferry, Paul Young, U2, Dire Straits, Queen, David Bowie, The Who, Elton John, Freddie Mercury with Brian May, Paul McCartney.
Artists who performed in Philadelphia: Bernard Watson, Joan Baez, The Hooters, The Four Tops, Billy Ocean , Black Sabbath, Run DMC, Rick Springfield, REO Speedwagon, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Judas Priest, Bryan Adams, Beach Boys, George Thorogood & the Destroyer, Simple Minds, The Pretenders, Santana, Ashford & Simpson with Teddy Pendergrass, Madonna, Tom Petty, Kenny Loggins, The Cars, Neil Young, Power Station, Thompson Twins, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page & John Paul Jones, Duran Duran, Patti LaBelle, Hall & Oates, Mick Jagger with Tina Turner), Bob Dylan, Keith Richards & Ron Wood.
At Wembley, Dire Straits with a two-song set, between U2 and Queen took the stage and ‘rock on’ at this global jukebox. Dire Straits made one massive explosive with their songs. First “Money for Nothing” in performance with Sting. After the first song, Mark started to play that magic guitar solo of their biggest classic hit “Sultans of Swing”. Live Aid concert was one historic event for all music history and Dire Straits.