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Festival Live Aid 1985 ("Live Aid 1985"): how was it?

About the coolest charity rock music festival of all time!

Music festival Live Aid 1985: how was it?

Over 70 famous bands and performers, about two billion viewers, including Her Majesty Princess Diana and His Highness Prince Charles, more than two hundred hits that have become the personification of an entire era ... And all this thanks to Bob Geldof, who organized the cult music festival - Live Aid 1985. How was it? Let's dive into history together!

Live Aid 1985: What is its value for the history of music?

The grandiose, there is no other way to call it, the charity music festival Live Aid took place on July 13, 1985. The idea to organize a large-scale event came to Bob Geldof, a famous Irish rock musician, and today a public figure. With a concert with the participation of the most popular stars of the world rock scene, which lasted for sixteen (!!!) hours, Geldof wanted to draw the maximum attention of the audience to the theme of hunger and donate the funds raised to the famine-stricken Ethiopia. Even the very name of the festival indicates the purpose: "Live Aid" is translated as "Live Help".

Live Aid is considered to be the greatest event in the history of world music! Of course, there was Woodstock, but in terms of scope, it was not even close. Just think: especially for this occasion, one of the largest satellite broadcasts in the history of television broadcasting was organized - about two billion viewers from more than 150 countries of the world watched what was happening in the stadiums live! This historical action took place in two cities at the same time: London, at Wembley Stadium, where about 82,000 guests gathered, and in Philadelphia, at the John F. Kennedy Stadium, where about 99,000 spectators came. Neither before nor after such grandiose music festivals were held! In order to participate in this event, the most popular performers of the 80s came together. Among about 70 participants were such musical geniuses as Elton John and Paul McCartney, Queen and David Bowie, Sting and Bryan Adams, as well as Phil Collins, Bob Geldof's Boomtown Rats and many, many others ...

The organizer of the festival is Bob Geldof. Photo: Steve Rapport
The organizer of the festival is Bob Geldof. Photo: Steve Rapport

What inspired Geldof to organize Live Aid

The idea to organize a grand charity event came to Bob Geldof during his stay in Sudan. There, the musician was struck by the fact that, due to the port transport cartel, there were constant delays in food products, and the locals had to starve ... By all means, Geldof decided to fight this problem. Upon his return to England, he began to actively prepare for the festival. With the proceeds from ticket sales, it was planned to buy many trucks that would deliver food and other food products to Sudan in a timely manner. In order to raise so much money, Bob decided to attract the most popular performers and well-known bands to the festival. According to his plan, they all had to perform on two continents at the same time. So, London's Wembley Stadium and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia were chosen as the venue. Geldof conceived a very interesting broadcast concept: the performances would switch from stadium to stadium, which would allow viewers to watch the big concert in its entirety.

Together with his like-minded people - Midge Ure and Harvey Goldsmith - Geldof went to all sorts of tricks to get the consent of the artists to participate in the festival. For example, Bob called Elton John and said that supposedly Queen and David Bowie agreed to participate in the concert, although in fact none of them even knew anything about it. And then Geldof called David Bowie and assured him that Elton and Queen 100% would be involved. All this was a complete lie, but very effective. Later, the BBC gave their consent to broadcast the concert and, for the sake of a 16-hour marathon, canceled previously scheduled television shows. The organizer of the musical event himself was afraid to the last that none of the artists would arrive at the appointed time, and he, along with his Boomtown Rats band, would have to perform all 16 hours! Of course, such a concert would hardly have raised a lot of money, and the idea, in the end, would have turned out to be a failure ...

Over 72,000 people gathered at Wembley Stadium
Over 72,000 people gathered at Wembley Stadium

And then came the moment that everyone had been waiting for so long ... On July 13, 1985, at 11:30 in the afternoon, all the invited stars arrived. Lined up in a row, they talked, warmed up before the performance and just looked at each other. Everyone was waiting in the wings X.

Live Aid - how was it?!

Cool team for concert cover
Cool team for concert cover

The iconic charity concert began at the John F. Kennedy Stadium in London at exactly noon. Then Philadelphia joined in, where the event started at 13:51. Initially, the festival was conceived for about 16 hours, but due to the fact that many performers decided to dilute their performances with improvisation, its duration turned out to be much longer. So, at Wembley the concert ended at ten in the evening, and at the John F. Kennedy Stadium - only at four in the morning.

London. At exactly 12:00 pm, renowned radio host Richard Skinner solemnly announces the beginning of the concert, which starts with the national anthem performed by the royal guards. The first to open the festival are Status Quo with their "Rockin' All Over the World". Immediately after the end of a brilliant performance, the band members, without changing the "rocker tradition", "refuel" fuel and stay to enjoy the music and have fun with everyone! As the audience of the festival and its participants later recalled, that day was truly magical! No one in the audience had ever experienced such a cool feeling in their lives... The guests were not just a crowd that spent a lot of money in order to look at their idols. They themselves were part of the program! Everyone sang, danced, there was a frantic euphoria on the stage ... It was hot in London, and the day turned out to be just wonderful!

Status Quo is followed by The Style Council, after which the crowd is turned on by Bob Geldof with his Boomtown Rats. In an interview, the musician recalled:

“I immediately felt the grandeur of what was happening, as soon as we went on stage. The noise of a huge crowd, the joyful faces of people who came to the concert ... We performed with a very old song "I Don't Like Mondays". In England, everyone knew her very well, so the guests sang in unison with us. There is such a line as: “… And the lesson today is how to die…” So, it was on this significant day that it acquired a special meaning. When I reached her, I raised my hand and froze. The words seemed to hang in the air. I looked like some kind of politician or overlord that everyone wanted to follow. The audience just started to go crazy! The noise has grown many times, if not dozens of times! At that moment, I was completely calm. I wanted to remember forever, to feel this feeling ... ".

After Howard Jones, Bryan Ferry and his Roxy Music team take the stage. But from the very beginning of the performance, everything went to hell for the guys: the drummer went into such a frenzy that he managed to break the drum during the very first song!

Around the second or third track, David Gilmour's guitar went out of order, and as for the vocalist himself, it's more like an ironic joke - Brian's microphone suddenly stopped working! The stagehand brought the artist another, and Ferry performed with two microphones at the same time, because he was not exactly sure which one to sing in.

Paul Young and Alison Moyet are next, and at 5:00 pm sharp, Bob Geldof welcomes Philadelphia. The first musician whose performance the audience saw on both sides of the Atlantic was Bryan Adams. Interestingly, the performer took the stage before he was announced by Jack Nicholson.

On the American teleconference Nicholson broadcasts that U2 are rising to the stage of Wembley. Like a hurricane, Bono is the first to jump out and the guests enjoy "Sunday Bloody Sunday". Then the composition "Bad" sounds, during which the attention of the vocalist is riveted by the girl. The excited crowd simply crushed her to the stage itself. Bono tried to hint to the guards to help her, but they didn't get his hints. Then the singer personally jumps over the fence and pulls the stunned poor fellow onto the stage! Now she becomes part of the program: she and Bono dance together, which causes incredible delight among the audience! Apparently, the performer really liked this technique, because at his later performances he also chose girls from the crowd and arranged dances with them!

Brian May, guitarist for Queen, later recalled:

“At that time, U2 could not be called a famous band, but watching their performance, I realized that these guys have a great future…”.

At 17:40, the John F. Kennedy Stadium literally "blow up" the Beach Boys. Among all the performed performers, the group turned out to be the first veteran of the 60s and 70s. Following them, London audiences enjoy the creations of Dire Straits and Queen. The last team just tore the stage to shreds! Queen turned out to be the brightest stars at the festival! The incomparable Freddie Mercury led the crowd into a real ecstasy, performing the band's most legendary hits. The artist even played the guitar in one of the songs, which was a rarity for him. It was truly the most amazing 21 minutes of the concert...

At around 7pm, Chevy Chase presents David Bowie and Mick Jagger's collaborative video for the song "Dancing in the Streets" to Wembley guests. Initially, the musicians planned to perform together, but problems with the video broadcast did not allow them to realize their plans ... So, they had to shoot a video for the track they were going to perform.

Freddie's brilliant performance has become a symbol of this festival
Freddie's brilliant performance has become a symbol of this festival

By the way, speaking of Bowie, it is worth noting that he also distinguished himself from other performers, along with Mercury. The musician was the only sober of all the participants, and, moreover, immaculately dressed. No offense will be said to the fans, but most of the performers looked far from solemn ... What is the organizer of the festival himself - Bob Geldof, who was sitting next to the royal nobility ... Having finished his speech, Bowie presented a filmed report showing the terrible footage of the famine in Ethiopia.

All this was accompanied by the soulful composition of The Cars "Drive". During the show, Bowie even burst into tears and said that he was refusing to perform another of his songs in order to show this ...

As a result, the shocking video became the key moment of the event. It was after his show that the audience began to transfer much more money than at any of the other moments of the festival.

Everyone sings "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
Everyone sings "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

Later, Geldof reported that the largest contribution came from Ireland, although at that time the deepest economic crisis reigned there. The largest one-time donation was a family from Dubai, who transferred a million pounds to the relief fund! In total, Live Aid raised at least 40-50 million pounds!

Notable moments from Live Aid

This festival can be called legendary also because it was thanks to it that two famous reunions took place! For the first time after the death of John Bonham, the remaining ex-members of Led Zeppelin: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones performed on the same stage (already in America) and in full force. They were accompanied by Phil Collins. By the way, the latter managed to attend two concerts that day!

Led Zeppelin got together for a good cause at John F. Kennedy Stadium in 1985. But they performed badly... Therefore, they banned their performance from being released on DVD and CD
Led Zeppelin got together for a good cause at John F. Kennedy Stadium in 1985. But they performed badly ... Therefore, they banned their performance from being released on DVD and CD

First, Collins performed at Wembley with Sting, and then flew to the States on the Concorde (the fastest passenger plane in the world) to join Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin. The singer later shared:

Phil Collins
Phil Collins

“There was a wild heat in London that day. The stage was white, but this did not save from the scorching sun. After the performance, I waited about two hours for a helicopter to get to Heathrow Airport, after which I flew to the USA. As soon as I boarded the plane, I realized that I would be the only musician who will be on two stages that day! Although the other participants also planned to do so ... It so happened that Cher flew with me. She did not know anything about the festival, but she simply decided to support the concert and perform with all the performers in the final…”.

Performance in England:

In the United States:

When Collins got to the stadium, he realized that it was no longer about a joint performance with Robert Plant, but about the reunion of the Led Zeppelin team! To tell the truth, the second drummer of the group - Tony Thompson - was not very happy about the arrival of Collins, and as soon as all the musicians were on stage, it became clear that there would be no smooth tandem ... Thompson played the entire program at random, and after the performance the musicians quarreled. Everyone blamed each other for the failed performance, and Jimmy Page forbade it from being released on DVD at all. To be honest, their performance really turned out to be weak, and it was visible to the naked eye. It seems that only Paige and Collins gave their best that day.

Here, in Philadelphia, there was another bright reunion, which was a double gift for many fans! Ozzy Osbourne, who previously left Black Sabbath, has returned to his former rock home! The band played all of their biggest hits, including "Ironman" and "Crazy train".

And another memorable moment was the performance of Mick Jagger and Tina Turner. During the performance of the incendiary "It's Only Rock and Roll", the singer was so carried away by dancing that she crushed her illustrious partner's leg with her heel! And then there was the legendary skirt ripping incident. As it turned out later, this was a pre-planned scene, forever imprinted on the cover of Life!

Sade's performance...

Along with Queen, the pearl of the festival was the wonderful Sade and her team of musicians ... The singer performed 3 gentle compositions: "Why Can't We Live Together", "Is It a Crime" and "Your Love Is King". But we will discuss the last one: light and heartfelt, the name of which is translated as “Your love is the King” (“Crowned by my heart”). This song captivated the audience, and at the moment where Sade takes off his outer clothes, the saxophone solo intensifies and the audience literally gives the team a strong standing ovation on stage!

Sade's unique manner of performance delights: insightful timbre, interesting hand movements... And what a facial expression! It is impossible not to note the elegant appearance of the singer: as a successful designer in the past, the girl always dresses, as they say, “with a needle”. This once again emphasizes the lightness and purity of her music and lyrics...

Sade and her band played at Wembley Stadium. Their performance began at 2:55 pm and lasted approximately 20 minutes. For sure, for the spectators who filled the arena, it remained one of the brightest memories of that day ...

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