32 Years Ago Today, Live Aid Rocked The World!

When Boomtown Rats leader Bob Geldof, so moved by a BBC feature on Ethiopia's famine in 1984, decided to get involved in the fight against world hunger by co-writing "Do They Know Its Christmas" with Ultravox's Midge Ure, his desire to see change could have stopped there, but then he went one step further and organized the recording of said single with the mindset to include as many of the day's superstars on the song as possible.

The glad-handing and ego-stroking necessary to wrangle that many A-listers was, perhaps more than anything else, what Geldof excelled at and the final list of stars who participated on the recording would include Boy George, Sting, Paul Weller, Bono, George Michael, and members of Duran Duran Spandau Ballet, Kool & The Gang (!), Boomtown Rats, and Status Quo, among others.

When the song went to #1, Geldof could have stopped there - after all, he'd done more than pay mere lip service to a charitable cause, he'd formed his own foundation and had raised millions as well as increasing awareness for the cause around the world - but then he went one step further and began organizing a charity concert to raise even more money to fight hunger in Ethiopia.

This wouldn't be just any charity concert, though, but the largest live musical event ever organized, more than living up to its nickname, "The Global Jukebox".

What made the event unique, of course, was the fact that simultaneous concerts would be taking place at London's Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia's John F. Kennedy Stadium and broadcast around the world. Additionally, satellite concerts would also take place in Russia, Austria, Japan, West Germany and Australia.

To pull this off, Geldof would turn to promoters Harvey Goldsmith (UK) and Bill Graham (USA), who both set out to put together star-studded rosters of performers. For those artists who would have loved to have been part of a #1 smash-hit single, being able to take part in Live-Aid would be the next best thing and, as one can imagine, few offers were rejected.

Amazingly, during his Concorde flight to Philadelphia, where he would perform his second set of the day (the first being earlier in the day at Wembley Stadium), Phil Collins would encounter Cher, who had been completely unaware of the event, but would accompany Collins to the stadium to take part in a group performance of "We Are The World".

While this writer can't imagine what rock Cher must have crawled under to escape the constant media coverage leading up to the event, every other humanoid on the planet was well aware that Live-Aid was coming and that, on July 13th 1985, we could watch the concert on ABC, MTV, the BBC, and listen on any one of hundreds of radio stations broadcasting the event.

And with the words of BBC presenter Richard Skinner "It's twelve noon in London, seven AM in Philadelphia, and around the world it's time for Live Aid", the broadcast was underway. First band out of the gates was UK legends Status Quo, performing a celebratory "Rocking All Over The World".

Sting performs "Money For Nothing" with Dire Traits.
With time restraints and limited conditions under which to perform, most bands were happy to get through their 4-5 song sets without any technical glitches and backstage, where the real party was taking place.

For others, conditions played perfectly to their strengths and they delivered transcendent sets that either made them stars (as in the case of U2) or re-energized their popularity all over the world (Queen).

This, of course, was what a reformed Led Zeppelin had hoped for, but circumstances certainly seemed to be conspiring against them in that regard. A lack of rehearsal, failing monitors, and an out-of-tune guitar provided no support to an already hoarse Robert Plant and the resulting set was so lackluster on all fronts that the band refused to allow use of their footage in the Live-Aid DVD set issued in 2004.

Of course, lest anyone forget the reason for the concerts, after Geldof had been informed that only $1 million had been donated via phone lines seven hours into the concert, he interrupted a presenter who was providing mailing addresses where viewers could send money to say "Fuck the addresses, let's get the numbers!" he was referring to the phone lines, of course, and donations immediately shot through the roof after Geldof's outburst.

Additionally, David Bowie volunteered to drop a song from his set to give time for Geldof to air a devastating clip on the Ethiopia famine that led to yet another rush of donations.

By the end of the day, over $50 million dollars had been raised.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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