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Live Aid 1985: everything behind the scenes

Today, after more than 30 years, we decided to lift the veil of secrecy and tell you little-known facts about Live Aid 1985 that you might not know!

About "Live Aid" in 1985 - what you did not know yet ...

Live Aid (“Live Aid”, which means “Live Help” in English) is a cult music festival that first took place in July 1985! The event became truly legendary… On the stages of Wembley, London, and the John F. Kennedy Stadium, Philadelphia, the superstars of their time performed: Sade, Queen, Phil Collins and many, many others… The total number of viewers who followed the live broadcast was about 2 billion ... The purpose of such a global event was to raise funds to help those affected by the terrible famine in Ethiopia ...

Today, after more than 30 years, we decided to lift the veil of secrecy and tell you little-known facts about Live Aid 1985 that you might not know! By the way: the music festival raised about 80 million pounds! Half of these funds went to emergency relief (food and medicine) and the other half to development projects such as dams and wells.

Musicians who didn't show up...

Tears for Fears: Kurt Smith (left) and Roland Orzabal (right)
Tears for Fears: Kurt Smith (left) and Roland Orzabal (right) 1982

Since Status Quo kicked off the festival with their midday performance of the very successful song "Rocking All The World", over 75 numbers have been performed on both sides of the Atlantic!

Folk singer Joan Baez was the first to take the stage in Philadelphia, and Phil Collins played both shows - appearing with Sting at Wembley, he soon flew to Heathrow by helicopter, where he jumped into Concord and was soon in New York! Then he jumped on another helicopter and flew to Philadelphia! He arrived just in time to play his own set and drummer for Eric Clapton and the reunited Led Zeppelin...

However, many famous musicians said no to organizer Bob Geldof. So, Bruce Springsteen had just finished touring with his band and thought they needed to take a break, Diana Ross was on the road, and Prince claimed he had given up on live performances (even though he did appear on the video). Huey Lewis was not at all convinced that the money raised would reach those in need, and neither was Holly Johnson, who was not enthusiastic about this idea ... Meanwhile, Eurythmics had to withdraw when Annie Lennox got a sore throat. Tear For Fears were also forced to withdraw due to personal reasons...

Legendary performance by Queen

Queen
Queen

Ask someone who was there that day: Queen's legendary performance of six songs in about 17 minutes just stole the show... Their flawless performance was the result of three days of rehearsals, but the band hardly took part because Freddie Mercury was afraid that their the performance will be considered as a political statement... However, it was this performance that gave the band a second wind! Since 1983, Queen members briefly suspended the work of the group, devoting their time and energy to the development of solo projects: it was during this period that Mercury released his albums Mr. Bad Guy and Strange Frontier. In the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody" this period is shown as discord, darkness, during which it was very difficult for Freddie to find inspiration and himself ...

As for the Queen's performance at Live Aid, to this day it remains the best in the history of the band's live performances...

Unexpected difficulties...

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney

In fact, the show was far from smooth and flawless... So, for example, Eric Clapton's microphone gave him an electric shock, while Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page forgot to tune his guitar... And the aforementioned Phil Collins completely skipped learning songs in his desire to cross the Atlantic ... However, the biggest difficulties had to endure the Beatle Paul McCartney:

“…my exit was after Queen. When they played, the technicians turned off all the equipment, turned everything off and nodded to me, in the spirit, “everything is in order, you can go out!” But I came there without a team! I go on stage, in front of a huge audience, and I understand that I do not hear any sound! “Great, the piano is out of tune!” I think. Panically looking for at least one technician, but all in vain ... Okay, I start singing “When I find myself in times of trouble”, as I hear a wild cry: “You sat down at the wrong piano! It's not connected!" - apparently, one of the technicians finally came to his senses. “Just lovely…” I thought. And only in the middle of the song did the sound appear ... The audience began to sing along, and everything seems to be back to normal!

It is also noteworthy that each performer at Wembley was allocated one of the stadium's simplest dressing rooms for an hour before the performance and 30 minutes after it. Dissatisfied with this arrangement, Elton John "built" a motorhome in the parking lot with potted plants, a fence and barbecue facilities! The rest of the attendees feasted in the free summer kitchen provided by the Hard Rock Cafe, though they were asked to make donations: event co-organizer Midge Ure said later that he gave away £50 for the burger!

Memorable sets

Mick Jagger and David Bowie's cover of the Motown classic "Dancing in the Street" was intended to be a live transatlantic duet, but in the mid-1980s there was no technology to achieve this in terms of audio synchronization... Instead, they made it as a video! Later released as a single, the track topped the UK charts for four weeks, with all proceeds going to the famine relief fund.

The Wembley show ended with a rousing performance of the song that started it all: "Do They Know It's Christmas?". The track topped the charts for five weeks and raised £8m for famine relief. However, most of the on-stage ensemble didn't sing on the original record, so they had to desperately learn the words backstage...

Bono, who, of course, actually sang on the single, improvised - "Let them know that spring is coming." This might have seemed strange for England in July, but since spring in Ethiopia starts around August, it made geographical sense.

Unexpected visit...

Cher
Cher

The Philadelphia concert ended six hours later with Lionel Richie singing "We Are The World". The unexpected singer in the line-up was none other than Cher, whom Collins ran into while flying the Concorde! She apparently hadn't heard of the event and was shocked that she missed it, but Phil said, "Just come!". In fact, she did just that!

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