Looking back to 1985: Rockin’ All Over The World

Live Aid July 13, 1985

2,000 editions ago Live Aid was in the news. The biggest live concert the world had ever seen was set for Saturday July 13, 1985. Tickets were just £5 with a £20 charity donation. After the Coldstream Guards band opened with the national anthem, at 1 minute past midday on a hot and sunny Saturday, Status Quo took to the stage.

Guitarist Rick Parfitt who had homes in Alhaurín el Grande and Marbella and who would, much later, set up a real estate agency in Marbella, said, “I will never forget the feeling as we walked out on to that stage – it was just magical”. He continued, “It was real hairs-standing-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck stuff. When you walk out and you’ve got 80,000-odd people stretching into the distance, and then you become aware of the hundreds of cameras in front of you, and you start to take it all in… it was just breathtaking.”

Talking to Planet Radio on the event’s 35th anniversary, singer Francis Rossi said: “Whenever Quo step onto a stage we strive to give it our best, no one audience or gig is more important than another to the band, but it is undeniable that the 13th of July 1985 was special”.

Band Aid

Live Aid was the next step after the success of two successful charity singles that had been released in the last eight months. The main reason it was organised was to try to save the crisis in Ethiopia. This initiative began in 1984, when the Band Aid Foundation was set up. It brought together musicians of British and Irish origin. The aim was to donate all the proceeds to the East African country.

Famine was increasingly present in Africa. Approximately 1 million Ethiopians had died of malnutrition. In addition, the country was embroiled in a civil war. Images of starving citizens were broadcast on television. The whole world was shocked and international organisations called for support.

The first single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, was credited to Band Aid, an all-star group that included some of the UK’s biggest artists. Less than 2 months later came the US version: “We Are the World” by USA for Africa. Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, the song brought together a diverse group of musicians. Together, the two benefit songs raised more than $75 million.

The concerts

With the job still unfinished, Geldof and Ure came up with the idea for Live Aid. The two concerts featured 16 hours of music, they were attended by 172,000 people, were broadcast to more than 100 countries around the world and more than 1.5 billion people watched.

The concert was designed as a global event and was always intended to be broadcast on television. In fact, that was by far the best way to see the performances; most fans at Wembley Stadium had to watch on giant video screens, as they were too far away to see the stars on stage.

The hardest working performer of the day was Phil Collins, who played his set, then joined Sting on stage before jumping on a plane for the flight to Philadelphia, where he then played “Against All Odds” and “In The Air Tonight” before getting behind the drums, replacing John Bonham in Led Zeppelin, who had reformed just for the day.

In all, a total of 60 artists took part in both events including Queen, U2, Black Sabbath, David Bowie, The Who, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and many, many more. The Wembley concert finally ended with Bob Geldof on stage and 72,000 people joining in with “Do They Know Its Christmas?”. In July.

The original target of Live Aid was to raise £1 million: in the end the amount actually raised was closer to £150 million. Just as important as the money was the publicity it generated, which encouraged Western nations to make available enough surplus food to end the immediate hunger crisis in Africa. Geldof was later knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his efforts.

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Written by

Kevin Fraser Park

Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.