“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in the UK (1984) and “We are the World” in the US (1985) were two of the more popular songs in the mid-80s. Both collaborative efforts raised awareness and tons of money for the Ethiopian famine crisis. Buoyed by these successful ventures, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure organized the “Global Jukebox” known as Live Aid. The two main venues were Wembley Stadium in London and JFK stadium in Philadelphia.
Some interesting items from Live Aid, July 13, 1985:
Ω Queen’s five-song set at Live Aid was voted the greatest live performance in the history of rock music by more than 60 artists, journalists and music executives. Guitarist Brian May later said of that performance, “It was the greatest day of our lives.”
Ω U2 frontman Bono jumped down into the crowd to dance with a girl during their two-song set. Years later, this same girl credited Bono for saving her life. Bono apparently noticed she was being crushed by the crowd. He attempted to alert security of the dire situation, but they didn’t understand what he was saying. So he jumped into the crowd to help her himself.
Ω Phil Collins played a set in London with Sting. He then flew to New York on the Concorde, hopped on a helicopter to Philadelphia, and in succession, played drums for Eric Clapton, played his own two-song set, and finished his whirlwind day by playing drums for Led Zeppelin. In the process he managed to piss off Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page (more on that later). Quite an eventful day for Phil!
Ω Cat Stevens wrote a song specifically for Live Aid. He showed up to Wembley unannounced, hoping to perform. However, Geldof was unable to squeeze him into the busy schedule.
Ω Live Aid was the last live performance until 2003 for Duran Duran. During “A View to a Kill”, lead singer Simon Le Bon missed horribly on a note that became known as “The Bum Note Heard Round the World”. He later described it as the most embarrassing moment of his career.
Ω The surviving members of Led Zeppelin likely remember Live Aid as fondly as Simon. Jimmy Page blamed the poor showing on Phil Collins just “bashing away cluelessly and grinning” on the drums. Phil defended himself by saying “it wasn’t my fault it was crap”. Since Live Aid, Led Zeppelin has attempted to block all rebroadcasts of their performance.
Ω It’s been estimated that over $150 million was raised from the concerts to help with famine relief. Soon after the concerts, there began to be questions as to whether or not the money was being used for its intended purpose. According to a Spin magazine article, this influx of money from the West helped Ethiopian dictator Mengistu purchase military weapons from Russia and effectively crush his opposition.
Live Aid was an amazing day of music. Even though not every memory is entirely positive, it truly was an event that showed the goodness of people all across the world and their willingness to give.
Portions of this article were curated from the following: