Live Aid – “The Greatest Rock Event Ever Staged” – took place 30 years ago today in Wembley Stadium, with a second concert in Philadelphia the same day, and several more around the world
The concert built on the success of Band Aid’s charity single of 1984. Organised by the colourful “Sir” Bob Geldof – the acceptable face of Irish rockstars – and the rather greyer (plain old “Mr”) Midge Ure, it was beamed live to over 1.9 billion people in 150 countries.
It featured many of the biggest stars of the day, and several of the day before, with Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young all reforming for the event. Unfortunately many of the old codgers’ performances fell flat. Led Zeppelin were particularly terrible.
The concert opened with chart-topping beat combo the Band of the Coldstream Guards, followed by Status Quo.
U2 played a 14-minute rendition of one of their songs, during which Bono contrived to save an attractive young audience member from being crushed to death.
Dire Straits wowed the audience with their global hit “Money For Nothing”, and Phil Collins showed off by playing in both London and Philadelphia, flying between the two on Concorde.
But it was 1970s pomp rockers turned 80s popsters Queen, and more specifically the late great Freddie Mercury – who didn’t even feature on the Band Aid record – who stole the show. The band’s Live Aid performance made global mega superstars out of them.
Bob Geldof’s most famous quote of the day – “Give us the fooken money” – has passed in to folklore. Except, of course, he didn’t say that. What he said was the rather more boring: “Don’t go to the pub tonight. Please stay in and give us the money. There are people dying now, so give us the money.”
But just after, when the postal address for donations was being read out, Geldof interjected “Fook the address! Let’s get the numbers!” Donations shot up to £300 a second.
In total, £150m was raised for famine relief in Ethiopia.