Today's show is a real good one with 7 bands, 6 shout outs, a few shots at the banksters, a look back to music of the 70's, Live Aid in 1985, and the 2nd Golden Age of Music Unfolding right now through Indie artists!, so, Sit back relax, have a listen to the music AND watch the commentary video.
The 1985 Live Aid concert was conceived as a
follow-on to the successful charity single "Do They Know
It's Christmas?" which was also the brainchild of Geldof and
Ure. In October 1984, images of millions of people starving to death in
Ethiopia were shown in the UK inMichael Buerk's BBC News reports on the1984 famine.Bob Geldof saw the report, and called Midge Ure from
Ultravox, and together they quickly co-wrote the song, "Do They Know It's
Christmas?" in the hope of raising money for famine relief.Geldof then contacted colleagues in the music industry and
persuaded them to record the single under the title 'Band Aid' for free.On 25 November 1984, the song was recorded atSarm West StudiosinNotting Hill, London, and was released four
days later.It stayed atnumber-one
for five weeksin the
number one, and became the fastest-selling single ever in Britain
million, rather than the £70,000 Geldof had expected.Geldof then set his sights on staging a huge
concert to raise further funds.
The idea to stage a charity concert to raise
more funds for Ethiopia originally came fromBoy George, the lead singer ofCulture Club. George and Culture Club drummerJon Mosshad
taken part in the recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by the
supergroup Band Aid, and during December 1984 while the Band Aid single was at
number one in theUK Singles ChartCulture Club were undertaking a tour
of the UK, which culminated in six nights atWembley Arena. On the final night at Wembley,
Saturday 22 December 1984, an impromptu gathering of various stars of the Band
Aid record joined Culture Club on stage at the end of the concert for an encore
of "Do They Know It's Christmas?". George was so overcome by the
occasion he told Geldof that they should consider organising a concert.
Speaking to the UK music magazineMelody Makerat the beginning of January 1985,
Geldof revealed his enthusiasm for George's idea, saying, "If George is
organising it, you can tell him he can call me at any time and I'll do it. It's
a logical progression from the record, but the point is you don't just talk
about it, you go ahead and do it!"
It was clear from the interview that Geldof
had already had the idea to hold a dual venue concert and how the concerts
should be structured:
..."The show should be as big as is humanly possible.
There's no point just 5,000 fans turning up atWembley; we need to have Wembley linked withMadison Square Gardensand
the whole show to be televised worldwide. It would be great forDuranto
play three or four numbers at Wembley and then flick to Madison Square whereSpringsteenwould
be playing. While he's on, the Wembley stage could be made ready for the next
British act likethe Thompsonsor
whoever. In that way lots of acts could be featured and the television rights,
tickets and so on could raise a phenomenal amount of money. It's not an
impossible idea, and certainly one worth exploiting."
The concert grew in scope, as more acts were
added on both sides of the Atlantic. Tony Verna, famed inventor of Instant
Replay, was able to secure Kennedy Stadium through his friendship with
Philadelphia Mayor Goode and was able to procure, through his connections with
ABC's prime time chief, John Hamlin, a three hour prime time slot on the ABC
Network and, in addition, was able to supplement the lengthy program through
meetings that resulted in the addition of an ad-hoc network within the USA.
Tony Verna designed the needed satellite schematic and went to be the Executive
Director as well as the Co-Executive Producer along with Hal Uplinger.
Hal Uplinger and Neil Mallard worked together
to assist in the expansion of The General Association of Sports Federations
(GAISF), which was seeking to bring together the common ambitions of the Sports
Federations, who were members - and non members - of the International Olympic
Following the highly successful expansion of
GAISF, Hal Uplinger made contact with the Live Aid organisers and discovered
that there appeared to be no plans for any TV News projection from the event.
Hal immediately contacted Neil Mallard - who had been appointed the first-ever
International Television News Agency Sports Editor at Visnews/Thomson-Reuters
TV Corporation, in 1974 - and who therefore understood not just world-wide TV
news but also the global satellite and PTT – a pre-fibre-optic system, which
combined multiple copper telephone lines together to carry a TV signal - system
backwards. Together, Neil and Hal joined forces with the Live Aid organising
committee - which included Harvey Goldsmith and Bob Geldof. Neil Mallard also
convinced Visnews - the world's largest TV News Agency - to contribute
invaluable support from their satellite guru, Simon Patch.
After numerous meetings to address and sort
out a raft of different and highly challenging technical requirements, so as to
achieve Geldof’s vision of a global Live Aid viewing audience, Neil and Tim
Mallard took charge of global co-ordination as a part of the BBC Live Aid
outside-broadcast operation, based at Wembley Stadium, and held the operation
together from the start of the event, and through to its conclusion.
As a charity fundraiser, the concert far
exceeded its goals: on a television programme in 2001, an organiser stated that
while initially it had been hoped that Live Aid would raise £1 million with the
help of Wembley tickets costing £25.00 each, the final figure was £150 million
(approx. $283.6 million). Partly in recognition of the Live Aid effort, Geldof
received an honoraryknighthoodfrom QueenElizabeth II. Music promoterHarvey Goldsmithalso helped in bringing the plans of
Geldof and Ure to fruition. For his contribution to Live Aid in the US,
Uplinger won a 1989 Computerworld Smithsonian Award in the Media, Arts &
The concert began at 12:00 BST (7:00 EDT) atWembley Stadiumin the United Kingdom. It continued atJFK Stadiumin
the United States, starting at 13:51 BST (8:51 EDT). The UK's Wembley
performances ended at 22:00 BST (17:00 EDT). The JFK performances and whole
concert in the US ended at 04:05 BST July 14 (23:05 EDT). Thus, the concert
continued for just over 16 hours, but since many artists' performances were
conducted simultaneously in Wembley and JFK, the total concert's length was
much longer. It was the original intention forMick JaggerandDavid Bowieto
perform an intercontinental duet, with Bowie in London and Jagger in
Philadelphia. Problems of synchronization meant that the only remotely
practical solution was to have one artist, likely Bowie at Wembley, mime along
to prerecorded vocals broadcast as part of the live sound mix for Jagger's
performance from Philadelphia. Veteran music engineer David Richards (Pink FloydandQueen) was brought in to create footage and
sound mixes that Jagger and Bowie could perform to in their respective venues.
The BBC would then have had to ensure that those footage and sound mixes were
in synch while also performing a live vision mix of the footage from both
venues. The combined footage would then have had to be bounced back by
satellite to the various broadcasters around the world. Due to the time lag (the
signal would take several seconds to be broadcast twice across theAtlantic Ocean) Richards concluded there would
be no practical way for Jagger to be able to hear or see Bowie's performance,
meaning there could be no interaction between the artists, which would defeat
the whole point of the exercise. On top of this both artists objected to the
idea of miming at what was perceived as a historic event. Instead, Jagger and
Bowie worked with Richards to create a video clip for the song they would have
performed, a cover of "Dancing in the Street".
The video was shown on the screens of both stadiums and also broadcast as part
of many TV networks coverage.
Concert organizers have subsequently said that
they were particularly keen to ensure that at least one surviving member ofThe Beatles, ideallyPaul McCartney, took part in the concert as
they felt that having an 'elder statesman' from British music would give it
greater legitimacy in the eyes of the political leaders whose opinions the performers
were trying to shape. McCartney agreed to perform and has said that it was
"the management" – his children – who persuaded him to take part. In
the event, he was the last performer (aside from the Band Aid finale) to take
to the stage and one of the few to be beset by technical difficulties; his
microphone failed for the first two minutes of his piano performance of "Let It Be", making it difficult for
television viewers and impossible for those in the stadium to hear him. He
later jokingly said he had thought about changing the lyrics to "There
will be some feedback, let it be".
at both Wembley Stadium and JFK, utilising theConcordeto
get him from London to Philadelphia. UK TV personalityNoel Edmondspiloted
the helicopter that took Collins toHeathrow Airportto catch his flight. Aside from his
own set at both venues, he also played the drums forEric Clapton, and played with the reuniting
surviving members ofLed Zeppelinat
JFK. On the Concorde flight, Collins encountered actress and singerCher,
who claimed not to know anything about the Live Aid concerts. Upon reaching the
US however she did attend the Philadelphia concert and can be seen performing
as part of that concert's "We Are the World" finale.
An official book was produced by Bob Geldof in
collaboration with photographer Denis O'Regan
"It's twelve noon in London, seven
AM in Philadelphia, and around the world it's time for: Live Aid ...."Richard
Skinneropening the show.
The concert was the most ambitious
international satellite television venture that had ever been attempted at the
time. In Europe, the feed was supplied by theBBC,
whose broadcast was opened byRichard
Skinner, co-hosted byAndy Kershaw,Mark Ellen, andDavid Hepworth, and included numerous interviews
and chats in between the various acts. TheBBC's televisionsound feed was mono, as was all UK TV
audio beforeNICAMwas introduced, but theBBC Radio 1feed
was stereo and was simulcast in sync with the TV pictures. Unfortunately, in
the rush to set up the transatlantic feeds, the sound feed from Philadelphia
was sent to London via transatlantic cable, while the video feed was bounced
the much longer distance via satellite, which meant a gross lack of
synchronisation on British television receivers. (Though there is no actual
evidence of this when watching the original broadcasts, part of The Who's
performance appeared on UK screens with the sound directly from Wembley, but
with the video feed taken from the American feed after the video footage had
been passed via satellite, converted fromPALtoNTSCand vice versa, back to the UK,
leading to the video feed of this performance being delayed behind the audio
feed by around 3 seconds on the UK TV feed. The UK video feed was switched to a
direct video feed from Wembley after around a minute of the concert returning
after another technical fault during The Who's performance). Due to the
constant activities in both London and Philadelphia, the BBC producers omitted
the reunion ofCrosby,
Stills, Nash & Youngfrom
their broadcast. The BBC, however, did supply a'clean feed'to various television channels in
ABCwas largely responsible for the US
broadcast (although ABC themselves only telecast the final three hours of the
concert from Philadelphia, hosted byDick Clark, with the rest shown in syndication
acting on behalf of ABC). An entirely separate and simultaneous US feed was
provided for cable viewers byMTV,
whose broadcast was presented in stereo, and accessible as such for those with
special receivers of the time, as there were very few stereo sets in the summer
of 1985, and few television stations were able to broadcast in stereo. While
the BBC telecast was run commercial-free (as it is a public broadcaster), both
the MTV and syndicated/ABC broadcasts included advertisements and interviews.
As a result, many songs were omitted due to the commercial breaks, as these
songs were played during these slots.
The biggest caveat of the syndicated/ABC
coverage is that the network had wanted to reserve some of the biggest acts
that had played earlier in the day for certain points in the entire broadcast,
particularly in the final three hours in prime time; thus, Orbis Communications
had some sequences replaced by others, especially those portions of the concert
that had acts from London and Philadelphia playing simultaneously. For example,
while the London/Wembley finale was taking place at 22:00 (10:00 pm) London
time, syndicated viewers saw segments that had been recorded earlier, so that
ABC could show the UK finale during its prime-time portion.
TheABC Radio Networkbroadcast the American domestic feed
of the concert, and later broadcast many of the acts that were missing from the
original live radio broadcast.
At one point midway through the concert,Billy Connollyannounced he had just been informed
that 95% of the television sets in the world were tuned to the event, though
this can of course not be verified. In 1995, VH1 andMuchMusicaired
a re-edited ten-hour re-broadcast of the concert for its 10th Anniversary.
The Live Aid concert in London was also the
first time that the BBCoutside broadcastsound equipment had been used for an
event of such a scale. In stark contrast to the mirrored sound systems commonly
used by the rock band touring engineers, with two 40–48 channel mixing consoles
at theFront of house, and another pair for monitors,
the BBC sound engineers had to use multiple 12 channel desks. Some credit this
as the point where the mainstream entertainment industry realised that the rock
concert industry had overtaken them in technical expertise
the stadium with some of their greatest hits, in which lead-singerFreddie Mercuryat times led the entire crowd of
72,000 in thundering unison refrains.In their 20 minute set the band opened with "Bohemian Rhapsody" and closed with "We Are the Champions"They extensively rehearsed their performance at London'sShaw Theatre.Prior to their taking the stage, Queen's sound
engineer covertly switched out thelimitersthat
had been installed on the venue's sound system so the performance would be
louder than the others.Queen's performance on that day has since been voted by
more than 60 artists, journalists and music industry executives as the greatest
live performance in the history of rock music.Mercury and fellow band memberBrian Maylater
sang the first song of the three-part Wembley event finale, "Is This
The World We Created...?".
performed with the rest of the Boomtown Rats, singing "I Don't Like Mondays".
He stopped just after the line: "The lesson today is how to die" to
loud applause with the lyrics taking on a whole other meaning.He finished the song and left the crowd to say the final
U2's performance established
them as a pre-eminent live group for the first time – something for which they
would eventually become superstars. The band played a 14-minute rendition of
"Bad", during which lead vocalistBonojumped off the stage to join the crowd
and dance with a girl. The length of their performance of "Bad"
limited them to playing just two songs; the third, "Pride (In the
Name of Love)", had to be ditched. In July 2005, the girl with
whom he danced revealed that he actually saved her life at the time. She was
being crushed by the throngs of people pushing forwards; Bono saw this, and
gestured frantically at the ushers to help her. They did not understand what he
was saying, and so he jumped down to help her himself.
Another moment that garnered a huge crowd
response was whenDavid Bowieperformed
and dedicated it to his son, as well as "All our children, and the
children of the world".
The UK reception of the US feed failed several
times and was dogged throughout the US concert by an intermittent regular
buzzing on the audio from the US (see the JFK Stadium section for more detail)
and also failed during their relay of Japan's concert, which blacked out most
ofOff Course's song "Endless Nights".
In addition, thetransatlanticbroadcast fromWembley Stadiumsuffered technical problems and failed
duringThe Who's performance of their song "My Generation", immediately afterRoger Daltreysang "Why don't you all
fade..." (the last word was cut off when a blown fuse caused the Wembley
stage TV feed to temporarily fail).The Whowere playing withKenney Joneson
drums, who was still an official member ofThe Whoat
this time, although this was their first performance since they'd officially disbanded
after their 1982 'farewell' tour.The Who's performance included an at times
chaotic but still blistering version of "Won't Get Fooled
Again", which was extremely popular with the audience inWembley Stadium.
The band's performance was described as "rough but right" byRolling Stonemagazine, but they would not perform
together again until the 1988BPI Awards.
While performing "Let it Be" near the end of the show, the
microphone mounted toPaul McCartney's piano failed for the first
two minutes of the song, making it difficult for television viewers and the
stadium audience to hear him.During this performance, the TV audience were better off,
audio-wise, than the stadium audience, as the TV sound was picked up from other
microphones near Paul McCartney as a disappointing, but preferable choice to no
sound at all from Paul. The stadium audience, who could obviously not hear the
electronic sound feed from these mikes, unless they had portable TV sets and
radios, completely drowned out what little sound from Paul could be heard
during this part of his performance. As a result, organiser and performer Bob
Geldof, accompanied by earlier performersDavid Bowie, Alison Moyet, and Pete Townshend,
returned to the stage to sing with him and back him up (as did the stadium
audience despite not being able to hear much), by which time, Paul's microphone
had been repaired.
At the conclusion of the Wembley performances,Bob Geldofwas
raised heroically onto the shoulders of The Who's guitaristPete Townshendand Paul McCartney – symbolising his
great achievement in unifying the world for one day, in the spirit of music and
Memorable Moments at JFK Stadium
At the very beginning of the televised portion
of the Philadelphia concert,Joan Baezannounced
to the assembled crowd (and the viewing audience) that "this is yourWoodstock,
and it's long overdue", before leading the crowd in "Amazing Grace" (paired with a couple of
verses of "We Are the World").
WhenMadonnagot on stage, despite the 95°F ambient
temperature, she proclaimed "I'm not taking shit off today!"
referring to the recent release of early nude photos of her inPlayboyandPenthousemagazines.
During his opening number, "American
themiddle fingerto somebody off stage about one
minute into song. Petty stated the song was a last minute addition when the
band realised that they would be the first act to play the American side of the
concert after the London finale and "since this is, after all, JFK
a guitar string,Ronnie Woodtook
off his own guitar and gave it to Dylan. Wood was left standing on stage
guitarless. After shrugging to the audience, he playedair guitar, even mimickingThe Who'sPete Townshendby swinging his arm in wide circles,
until a stagehand brought him a replacement. Although this moment was left off
the DVD, the performance itself was included, featuring footage focusing solely
During their duet on "It's Only Rock 'n'
away part ofTina Turner's dress, leaving her to finish the
song in what was, effectively, a leotard.
Teddy Pendergrassmade his first public appearance since
his near-fatal car accident in 1982 which paralysed him. Pendergrass, along
withAshford & Simpson,
performed "Reach Out and Touch".
a four-song set. The five original band members would not perform together
publicly again until 2003. Their set is also memorable for an incredibly weak,
off-key falsetto note hit by frontmanSimon Le Bonduring
"A View to a Kill".
The error was trumpeted by some media outlets as "The Bum Note Heard Round
The World", in contrast toFreddie Mercury'spowerful, sustained note during the a
cappella section ofQueen'sWembley
set, which was dubbed as "The Note Heard Round The World". Simon later
recalled that it was the most embarrassing moment of his career.
The UK TV feed from Philadelphia was dogged by
an intermittent regular buzzing on the sound during Bryan Adams' turn on stage
and continued less frequently throughout the rest of the UK reception of the
American concert and both the audio and video feed failed entirely during that
performance and duringSimple Minds's performance.
Phil Collins, who had performed in England
earlier in the day, began his set with the quip, "I was in England this
afternoon. Funny old world, innit?", to cheers from the Philadelphia
Throughout the concerts, viewers were urged to
donate money to the Live Aid cause. Three hundred phone lines were manned by
the BBC, so that members of the public could make donations using their credit
cards. The phone number and an address that viewers could send cheques to were
repeated every twenty minutes.
Nearly seven hours into the concert in London,
Bob Geldof enquired how much money had been raised; he was told £1.2 million.
He is said to have been sorely disappointed by the amount and marched to the
BBC commentary position. Pumped up further by a performance by Queen that he
later called "absolutely amazing", Geldof gave an infamous interview
in which he used the word 'fuck'. The BBC presenterDavid Hepworth, conducting the interview, had
attempted to provide a list of addresses to which potential donations should be
sent; Geldof interrupted him in mid-flow and shouted: "Fuck the address,
let's get the numbers!" It has passed into folklorethat he yelled at the audience, "Give us your fucking
money!" although Geldof has stated that this phrase was never uttered.Private Eyemagazine made great capital out of these outbursts,
emphasising Geldof's accent which meant the profanities were heard as
"fock" and "focking". After the outburst, giving increased
to £300 per second.
Later in the evening, following David Bowie's
set, a video shot by theCBCwas shown to the audiences in London
and Philadelphia, as well as on televisions around the world (though notably
neither US feed, ABCor MTVchose to show the film), showing
starving and diseased Ethiopian children set to the song "Drive"
byThe Cars. (This would also be shown at the
London Live 8 concert in 2005.) The rate of giving became faster in the
immediate aftermath of the moving video. Ironically, Geldof had previously
refused to allow the video to be shown, due to time constraints, and had only relented
when Bowie offered to drop the song "Five Years" from his set as a trade-off.
As Geldof mentioned during the concert, theRepublic of Irelandgave the most donationsper capita, despite being in the threat of a
serious economic recession at the time. The single largest donation came from
the ruling family ofDubai.
They donated £1m in a phone conversation with Geldof.
The next day, news reports stated that between
£40 and £50 million had been raised. Now, it is estimated that around £150m has
been raised for famine relief as a direct result of the concerts
Bruce Springsteenfailed to appear at the Wembley Live
Aid concert despite his huge popularity in 1985, later stating that he
"simply did not realise how big the whole thing was going to be". He
has since expressed regret at turning down Geldof's invitation stating that he
could have played a couple of acoustic songs had there been no slot available
for a full band performance.
Michael Jacksonalso refused to take a part in the
whole event. According to Joan Baez, Jackson and Stevie Wonder attempted to
organize a boycott of the event.Princedid not play, but did send a pre-taped
video of an acoustic version of "4 the Tears in Your Eyes", which was
played during the concert. The original version appears on theWe Are the Worldalbum,
while the video version was released in 1993 on Prince's compilationThe Hits/The B-Sides.
He wrote the song "Hello" about the criticism he got for turning it
Billy Joel,Boy George,Waylon Jennings,Kris Kristofferson,Tears for Fears, andStevie Wonder, along withHuey Lewis and the
NewsandPaul Simon, were all included in the initial
promotional material for the Philadelphia concert, but failed to appear at the
show itself. Simon and Lewis both accepted requests to play the Philadelphia
concert but later issued press statements stating they had chosen not to appear
after all, citing disagreements with promoterBill Graham.
The final poster for the Philadelphia show features the actsPeter, Paul and MaryandRod Stewart(who
also featured in the Philadelphia concert programme). Peter, Paul and Mary were
to have joined Bob Dylan for a rendition of "Blowing In The Wind"
since they had a tremendously successful version in the 1960s - but Dylan
called the organizers a few days before the show saying that he would play withRon WoodandKeith Richardsinstead (ironically, Bill Wyman
apparently told Geldof before not to approach the Stones because ‘Keith doesn’t
give a f***’).Stewart was not touring at the time and was ultimately
unable to put together a band in time for the concert as was Billy Joel who
actually didn't like the idea of performing solo in front of such big stadium
audience. Geldof claimedStevie
Wonder eventually agreed to appear, but then he phoned me up and said, ‘‘I am
not going to be the token black on the show".
Regarding Tears for Fears' absence, band
memberRoland Orzabalremarked that Bob Geldof "gave us
so much gip for not turning up at Live Aid. All those millions of people dying,
it was our fault. I felt terrible. I tell you, I know how Hitler must have
felt." The group made up for their absence by donating the proceeds from several
shows of their world tour that year, and also contributed a re-recording of
Wants to Rule the World" (entitled "Everybody
Wants to Run the World") for Geldof'sSport Aidcharity
event in 1986. The single reached the Top 5 in the UK, even though the band's
original version had been a hit only a year earlier.
a song for the Live Aid concert, which he never got to perform – had he done
so, he would have made his first public concert appearance since converting toIslamand changing his name toYusuf Islam. However according to the official
book that was released after the event, he arrived at Wembley Stadium on the
day without prior warning, and Geldof was unable to fit him into the schedule.
Liza Minnelli,Yoko Ono, andCyndi Lauperwere
tapped to present at JFK Stadium, but backed out. Lauper did appear in a
commercial for the "Live Aid Book" that aired during the concert.
According toJoan Baez, she had"a mysterious abdominal
surgery that she never discusses."
A reunitedDeep Purplewere
also due to appear fromSwitzerlandvia
satellite, but pulled out after guitaristRitchie Blackmorerefused to take part in the event.Eurythmicswere scheduled to play Wembley but
cancelled afterAnnie Lennoxsuffered
serious throat problems. Deep Purple (minus Blackmore, who left the band in
1993) appeared at Geldof's Live 8 sequel 20 years later, performing at the
Toronto leg of the event while Annie Lennox appeared at the London and
EdinburghLive 8 concerts.
invited to perform, but refused because he believed that the money raised by
Live Aid did not address the core problems facing the developing world and
instead aided the developed world by providing ways to get drugs, calling the
concert "the biggest cocaine money laundering scheme of all time."
A sighting ofGeorge Harrisonarriving Wednesday night at Heathrow
Airport led to widespread speculation that a reunion of the three living
Beatles was in the works. He was approached by Geldof to join Paul McCartney at
"Let it Be",
answering‘Paul didn’t ask me to sing on it (Let It Be) ten years ago, why
does he want me now?Frustrated by a bombardment of Beatles reunion questions,
Geldof said: "It's just something you have to answer. I find it silly that
with all these acts and the real purpose of the concert that the one thing
people suddenly get caught up over is, 'Are the Beatles going to reform?' Who
cares? Besides, they can't reform--or haven't people read the papers the last
to play, but the organizers refused because they didn't think they were famous
enough.Bill Graham is also said to have turned downForeignerandYesbecause
there was no free space on the bill for them.For the same reasonMarilliondidn't
play at the Wembley Stadium, although their lead singer, Fish, was able to
participate in the "Do They Know It's Christmas" finale as were
Justin Hayward and John Lodge fromThe Moody Blues, Stewart Copeland fromThe Policeand
the members ofBig Country. On the other hand,Lionel Richie,Harry Belafonte,Dionne Warwick,Sheena EastonandCherall showed up at the JFK finale
performing "We Are The World".
Diana Ross,Van Halen,Frankie Goes to
Hollywood,The Smiths,Talking HeadsandDonna Summeralso
refused, for unknown reasons.Depeche Mode, one of the most successful
English bands of the 1980s, was not invited. Alan Wilder, one of the DM members
at the time said: "I doubt very much that we would have accepted the
invitation, had we been asked. My personal view is that giving to 'chariddy'
should be a totally private gesture, out of which no personal gain should be
made. Inevitably, nearly all the artists who took part in Live Aid achieved a
considerable rise in record sales and being the cynic I am, I wonder just how
much of the profit gained from those sales actually ended up going to
In one of recent interviewsThin Lizzykeyboard
player Darren Wharton expressed his regrets about the band not being asked to
perform at the event: "I think that was a tragic, tragic decision. It
could've been and it should've been the turning point for Phil (Lynott). And I
think that really did Phil in quite a lot, that we were never asked to play. I
mean Phil, had a few problems at the time, but at the end of the day, if he
would've been asked to play Live Aid, that would've been a goal for him to
clean himself up to do that gig. We were all very upset of the fact that we
weren't asked to do it. Because as you say, it was Geldof and Midge who Phil
knew very well. I was surprised that we weren't asked to do that. That would've
been the turning point, you know, definitely. I don't think Phil ever forgave
Bob and Midge for that really."
Neil Peart, drummer of the Canadian rock bandRushsaid
about the whole Live Aid idea: "Geddy (Lee) was involved with the
'Northern Lights' charity record here in Canada, although Rush weren't invited
to participate in the 'Live Aid' event -- mainly because if you look at the
guest list, it was very much and 'in-crowd' situation. We didn't refuse to take
part because of any principles. Mind you, I wouldn't have been happy being part
of this scenario. Those stars should have shut up and just given over their
money if they were genuine. I recall that 'Tears For Fears,' who made a musical
and artistic decision to pull out of the concert, were subsequently accused of
killing children in Africa -- what a shockingly irresponsible and stupid
attitude to take towards the band. But I have nothing bad whatsoever to say
about Bob Geldof; he sacrificed his health, his career, everything for
something he believed in. But others around him got involved for their own
reasons. Some of those involved in 'Northern Lights' were actually quoted as
saying that their managers told them to get down to the recording sessions
because it would be a good career move! What a farce!"
Criticisms & Controversies
Bob Dylan's performance generated controversyfor his comment:
"I hope that some of the money…maybe they
can just take a little bit of it, maybe…one or two million, maybe…and use it,
say, to pay the mortgages on some of the farms and, the farmers here, owe to
He is often misquoted, as on theFarm Aidwebsite,as saying:
"Wouldn't it be great if we did something
for our own farmers right here in America?"
In his best-selling autobiography,Is That It?(published in 1986), Geldof was
extremely critical of the remark; he states:
"He displayed a complete lack of
understanding of the issues raised by Live Aid…. Live Aid was about people
losing their lives. There is a radical difference between losing your
livelihood and losing your life. It did instigate Farm Aid, which was a good
thing in itself, but it was a crass, stupid, and nationalistic thing to
Geldof was apparently not happy aboutThe Hootersbeing
tacked onto the bill as the opening band in Philadelphia. He felt pressured
into it by Graham and local promoter Larry Magid. Magid, promoting the concert
Concerts, argued that the band was hugely popular in Philadelphia,
despite their first major label albumNervous Nightbeing released less than three months
beforehand. Geldof let his feelings be known during an interview forRolling Stonesaying: "Who the fuck are The
Hooters?"The Hooters did get their revenge in December 2004, when
Geldof appeared on the bill with the Hooters in Germany astheiropening act.
Led Zeppelin's reunion for the first time
since the death of their drummer John Bonham in 1980 was poorly received due toRobert Plant's hoarse voice,Jimmy Page's struggling with an out-of-tune
guitar, lack of rehearsal with the two drummers (Phil Collins and Tony
Thompson) taking Bonham's place and poorly functioning monitors. Plant
described the performance as "a fucking atrocity for us... it made us look
like loonies".Page later criticised Phil Collins, who had played on
Plant's first two solo albums, for his performance on drums. Page said:
"Robert told me Phil Collins wanted to play with us. I told him that was
all right if he knows the numbers. But at the end of the day, he didn't know
anything. We played "Whole Lotta Love", and he was just there
bashing away cluelessly and grinning. I thought that was really a joke."Due to their "sub-standard" performance, the
band have blocked all possible broadcasts of it since and they withheld
permission for it to be included on the official DVD release of the concerts.
Adam Antsubsequently criticised the event and
expressed regrets about playing it, saying, "I was asked by Sir (sic) Bob
to promote this concert. They had no idea they could sell it out. Then in Bob's
book he said, 'Adam was over the hill so I let him have one number.' ... Doing
that show was the biggest fucking mistake in the world. Knighthoods were made,Bonogot it made, and it was a waste of
fucking time. It was the end of rock 'n' roll."
Andy Kershaw, one of the presenters of the
BBC's coverage, criticised the event in his autobiographyNo Off Switch, stating,
"Musically, Live Aid was to be entirely predictable and boring. As they
were wheeled out – or rather bullied by Geldof into playing – it became clear
that this was another parade of the same old rock aristocracy in a concert for
Africa, organised by someone who, while advertising his concern for, and
sympathy with, the continent didn’t see fit to celebrate or dignify the place
by including on the Live Aid bill a single African performer." Kershaw
also described the attitude of Geldof and his showbusiness associates as
"irritating, shallow, sanctimonious and self-satisfied.
Fund Use in Ethiopia
Although a professed admirer of Geldof's generosity
and concern, FOX News Channeltelevision hostBill O'Reillyhas been critical of the Live Aid
producer's oversight of the money raised for starving Ethiopian people,
claiming (in June 2005) that much of the funds were siphoned off byMengistu Haile Mariamand his army (which included theTigrayan
People's Liberation Front).This coalition battled, at the time againstDerg.
O'Reilly believes that charity organizations, operating in aid-receiving
countries, should control donations, rather than possibly corrupt governments.
Arguing that Live Aid accomplished good ends while inadvertently causing
harm at the same time,David Rieffgave
a presentation of similar concerns inThe Guardianat the time ofLive 8.Tim Russert, in an interview onMeet the Pressshortly after O'Reilly's
comments, addressed these concerns toBono.
Bono responded that corruption, not disease or famine, was the greatest threat
to Africa, agreeing with the belief that foreign relief organizations should
decide how the money is spent. On the other hand, Bono said that it was better
to spill some funds into nefarious quarters for the sake of those who needed
it, than to stifle aid because of possible theft.
Live Aid – Rockin All Over the World - Documentary
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