Friday, July 6, 2012

Live Aid 1985

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. 


  1. I never did watch any of the coverage of this back then but do remember hearing about Phil Collins performances. I probably will look up s clips on You Tube, I'm sure people put some on there. Loved how you broke down the time of the performances. I have this in my Smash Hits book but never got around to reading the whole article about it.

  2. LaraAnn-- I guess part of what fueled my own interest in Live Aid was my own geeky interest in rock history, and in rock festivals of the past. In the past there was Monterrey (1967), Woodstock (1969), Watkins Glen (1973), the Us Festivals (1982, 1983), and many others. I guess the idea that Live Aid would join the list of great festivals (as it did) attracted me. I spent a large part of that day following it (in an admittedly geeky manner) on the radio, and then at night on TV. A bit obsessive I must admit.

  3. Wow, what a great post. I can't believe it was 27 years ago this past week. There was such a buzz about it back then. It was great to witness it albeit via the radio and TV. Great research here Lazlo!

  4. Chelly-- Thanks for the compliments. Its amazing how time passes. I feel so blessed to have grown up in an era that had an event such as this, and that I am now able to look back and have such fond memories of it.