Today marks the 35th anniversary of the iconic 1985 Live Aid concert (NZ time).
Most well-known for the legendary Queen performance, the lineup of the benefit concert also features Elton John, Santana, Sting, Paul McCartney, Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, U2, the Who, the Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Duran Duran and more.
The phenomenal event was put together by Bob Geldof (formerly from Boomtown Rats) and Midge Ure in ten weeks, in hopes of raising funds for relief of the Ethiopian famine. Geldof said, "We took an issue that was nowhere on the political agenda and, through the lingua franca of the planet – which is not English but rock 'n' roll – we were able to address the intellectual absurdity and the moral repulsion of people dying of want in a world of surplus."
Billed as the "global jukebox", the event was held simultaneously at Wembly Stadium in London, UK, and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, US. Almost 2 billion people watched the concert that day, either in person or live on TV across 150 countries. That's almost 40% of the population at the time.
As mentioned earlier, Queen's performance was one of the most memorable sets from the show when singer Freddie Mercury and the band stole the show with a fierce twenty-minute performance of 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are the Champions'.
Another memorable event was when Phil Collins appeared with Sting at Wembley Stadium before flying down to the US to perform with Eric Clapton and sat in for a Led Zeppelin reunion, replacing John Bonham who unfortunately passed away five years earlier. The show was also remembered as one of Led Zeppelin's... worst performances due to bad sound on stage. Led Zeppelin also refused to allow the footage to be used on the official DVD because it was just that bad.
David Bowie and Mick Jagger wanted to give the world a special live duet between the two continents, covering 'Dancing in the Street'. Bowie sang his lines from London while Jagger sang in Philadelphia. Although it was not quite possible due to satellite sound feed delay, the idea was later changed a video clip released as a single with proceeds going to the cause.
On the other hand, U2's performance had established themselves as a pre-eminent live band for the very first time. One would remember that singer Bono jumping off the stage to join the crowd and danced with a girl during the 14-minute rendition of 'Bad'. Fast forward to 2005, the girl he danced with revealed that Bono saved her life that day as she was being crushed by the throngs of attendees pushing forward. It appears that Bono noticed this and frantically gestured at the ushers to aid her. When they didn't understand his gestures, he quickly moved in to help her.
Live Aid managed to raise over $127 million funds and generated publicity and awareness surrounding Ethiopian famine which encouraged Western nations to make surplus grain to end the immediate hunger crisis in Africa.
Check out some of the most iconic performances from the concert below.
Images credit to Getty Images