On July 13, 1985, one of the most amazing concerts ever occurred, and became one of the defining moment of those of us who grew up in the 1980s. It was called Live Aid, and it was the culmination of an effort by the musical community in the mid '80s to bring attention to the victims of a devastating African famine. While the cause was good, it also served the purpose of bringing together an incredible collection of musicians for one incredible day of music.
On of the prime inspirations of the effort was Bob Geldof, a musician with the group the Boomtown Rats. His guidance and inspiration brought together musicians in support of the cause of African famine victims first in the British effort known as Band Aid (and their song "Do They Know Its Christmas?"), which was shortly followed by USA for Africa (and their song "We Are The World."). Many other efforts followed, culminating in the extravaganza known as Live Aid.
Live Aid occurred at two locations simultaneously: at JFK stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States, and in Wembly Stadium in London, in the UK. But even more impressively, it was broadcast worldwide through various media, and the era of MTV brought forth a worldwide concert that drew an enormous audience. The concert featured many remarkable performances from a great variety of musicians.
Heres the schedule of musicians who participated in Live Aid:
In London's Wembly Stadium:
7 am: Bob Geldolf opens Live Aid; Status Quo; Style Council; Boomtown Rats with Adam Ant.
8 am: Adam Ant; Ultravox; Spandau Ballet.
9 am: Elvis Costello; Nik Kershaw with Billy Conally; Sade.
10 am: Phil Collins with Julian Lennon; Sting with Howard Jones.
11 am: Bryan Ferry; Paul Young with Alison Moyet.
12:30 pm: U2.
1 pm: Dire Straits; Queen.
2 pm: David Bowie.
3 pm: The Who; Elton John.
4 pm: Wham! ; Paul McCartney.
In Philadelphia's JFK stadium:
9 am: Joan Baez; The Hooters; The Four Tops; Billy Ocean.
10 am: Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne; Run-DMC; Rick Springfield; REO Speedwagon.
11 am: Crosby, Stills, Nash; Judas Priest.
12 pm: Bryan Adams; The Beach Boys.
1 pm: George Thorogood; Queens Performance from London.
2 pm: Music video featuring David Bowie and Mick Jagger; Simple Minds; The Pretenders.
3 pm: Santana with Pat Metheny; Ashford and Simpson with Teddy Pendergrass.
4:30 pm: Madonna; Rod Stewart. 5 pm: Tom Petty; Kenny Loggins; The Cars.
6 pm: Neil Young; Power Station. 7 pm: Thompson Twins; Eric Clapton.
8 pm: Phil Collins with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page; Duran Duran.
9 pm: Patti LaBelle; Daryll Hall and John Oats with Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin.
10 pm: Mick Jagger; Jagger with Tina Turner; Bob Dylan.
Trivia: The Live Aid Concerts were held on July 13, 1985, in London and Philadelphia. Phil Collins was able to play both. He played London in the morning, and then took the Concorde to Philadelphia to play the evening there.
Trivia: In London, a traffic light was set up just offstage to keep the performers within their allotted time. The traffic light would signal green when the performer had just just five minutes left to play, then yellow when two minutes were left, and red when it was time to leave. The performers kept to their time limits so well that the concert was often running as much as 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
I remember the day Live Aid occurred vividly: Saturday, July 13, 1985. I was 15 at the time. Being the music and pop culture geek that I was, even at that age, I was immediately drawn to the event. It was, to me, a historical event in music (and in rock music in particular), on par with Woodstock, and other such monumental concerts. I still feel that way about it.
I followed the coverage of it from the start of the day. At first, it was mostly via radio. One of the radio stations I frequently listened to, an album rock station, had all day coverage, and I listened to it as if it were the greatest thing that ever happened. At one point in the day, my family even left for an outing, and I came along, with my Walkman radio in hand, still listening to the event Joan Baez (referring to our generation) called "your Woodstock."
There were several interesting moments, including reunions from various major bands, including Led Zeppelin (with Phil Collins substituting for deceased drummer John Bonham); The Who; Crosby, Stills Nash & Young; and Black Sabbath.
There was even talk and rumors about a reunion of the three remaining Beatles (as John Lennon had sadly been taken from us by that time). The commentators on the radio who were covering the concerts mentioned it. Alas, it was not to be.
At the end of the day, at least where I lived, television picked up coverage. I remember vividly this performance by Tina Turner and Mick Jagger doing "State of Shock" and "Its Only Rock and Roll."