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Live Aid: 25 years ago today

It's been a quarter-century since Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof put together what has been, in hindsight, the most extensive multi-continental benefit concert to date, Live Aid.

By Carol Anne Szel

It's been a quarter-century since Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof put together what has been, in hindsight, the most extensive multi-continental benefit concert to date, Live Aid.

Taking place simultaneously in Wembley Stadium in England and at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia (with crowds of 72,000 and 99,000 respectively), Live Aid was beamed to more than 1.5 billion people in 160 countries, making it the largest broadcast in history. It's estimated that, in an era when cable television was new and channels were counted in dozens rather than hundreds, rough 95 percent of televisions around the world were tuned in to the Live Aid broadcast at some point.

Constructed by Geldof to raise money for famine relief in Africa, more than 22,000 pledges were made within five minutes of the Beach Boys taking the stage in Philly.

live aid programme

Simulcast in sync on broadcast TV, Queen opened it up with "Bohemian Rhapsody," while David Bowie and Mick Jagger and David Bowie fashioned a video featuring "Dancing in the Street," that was shown on the screens of both stadiums and also broadcast on TV.

Before singing "Amazing Grace," Joan Baez told the Live Aid audience worldwide that "this is your Woodstock, and it's long overdue."

Where money is concerned, as part of human nature and in any context, it seems controversy always ensues. Watching CNN on July 12, Anderson Cooper was in Haiti, addressing questions about the distribution of funds raised to help relief to the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake six months ago. Issues have been raised about money allegedly being funneled into the hands of government and never making it to the people, making the act of helping others a sort of hope-and-prayer proposition of whether donations are getting where they're intended to go.

With Live Aid, as well as charity concerts spawned in the 25 years between then and now, it's always been a mixed bag of charity vs. greed, caring as opposed to apathy, and giving vs. refrain. In spite of raising more than $285 million dollars, the Live Aid funds are still encountering difficulties to date. In fact, Live Aid monies are still snagged in the relief operations to distribute funds to the hardest hit areas, like Ethiopia and the Sudan.

live aid color program

But I digress. The bottom line in celebrating the grandness of today's 25-year anniversary and as an understatment of grand proportions, Live Aid was a presentation of the ultimate rock-and-roll legends of all time.

One highlight had to be the bi-continental appearances made by Phil Collins. Starting out in England with an afternoon performance, this Genesis frontman boarded the Concorde and made the trans-Atlantic flight to play at in Philadelphia. As always, both performances were impeccable, as Collins played solo at a grand piano center stage.

This 16-hour music extravaganza showcased performances from, among others, Madonna, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Neil Young, Hall and Oates, Howard Jones, Duran Duran, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Queen. It also hosted the reunion of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Live Aid was a legendary musical event for people around the world.

Happy silver anniversary, Live Aid.





London Wembley Stadium

• Coldstream Guards — "Royal Salute," "God Save the Queen" (stage entrance: 12:00);

• Status Quo —"Rockin' All Over the World," "Caroline", "Don't Waste My Time" (12:02);

• The Style Council — "You're The Best Thing," "Big Boss Groove," "Internationalists," "Walls Come Tumbling Down" (W 12:19);

• The Boomtown Rats —"I Don't Like Mondays," "Drag Me Down," "Rat Trap," "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow" (sung by the audience) (W 12:44);

• Adam Ant —"Vive Le Rock" (W 13:00);

• Ultravox — "Reap the Wild Wind," "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes," "One Small Day," "Vienna" (W 13:16);

• Spandau Ballet — "Only When You Leave," "Virgin," "True" (W 13:47);

• Elvis Costello — "All You Need Is Love" (W 14:07);

• Nik Kershaw — "Wide Boy," "Don Quixote," "The Riddle," "Wouldn't It Be Good" (W 14:22);

• Sadé — "Why Can't We Live Together," "Your Love Is King," "Is It A Crime" (W 14:55);

• Sting and Phil Collins (with Branford Marsalis) — "Roxanne," "Driven To Tears," "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)," "Message in a Bottle," "In the Air Tonight," "Long Long Way To Go," "Every Breath You Take" (W 15:18);

• Howard Jones — "Hide and Seek" (W 15:50)

• Bryan Ferry (with Pink Floyd's David Gilmour on guitar) — "Sensation," "Boys And Girls", "Slave To Love", "Jealous Guy" (W 16:07);

• Paul Young — "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (intro), "Come Back And Stay," "That's the Way Love Is" (with Alison Moyet), "Every Time You Go Away" (W 16:38);

• U2 — "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Bad" (with snippets of "Satellite Of Love," "Ruby Tuesday," "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Walk On The Wild Side") (W 17:20);

• Dire Straits — "Money for Nothing" (with Sting), "Sultans of Swing" (W 18:00);

• Queen (introduced by comedians Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones) — "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Radio Ga Ga," "Hammer to Fall," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions" (W 18:44);

• David Bowie (with Thomas Dolby on keyboards) — "TVC15," "Rebel Rebel," "Modern Love," "Heroes" (W 19:22);

• The Who — "My Generation," "Pinball Wizard," "Love, Reign o'er Me," "Won't Get Fooled Again" (W 19:59);

• Elton John (introduced by Billy Connolly) — "I'm Still Standing," "Bennie and the Jets," "Rocket Man," "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (with Kiki Dee), "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (with George Michael and backing vocals by Andrew Ridgeley), "Can I Get a Witness" (W 20:50);

• Finale at Wembley Stadium:
a) Freddie Mercury and Brian May (Queen) — "Is This The World We Created?" (W 21:48),
b) Paul McCartney — "Let It Be" (W 21:51),
c) Band Aid (led by Bob Geldof) — "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (W 21:54);

JFK Stadium, Philadelphia

• Bernard Watson — "All I Really Want to Do", "Interview" (13:51);

• Joan Baez (introduced by Jack Nicholson) — "Amazing Grace," "We Are the World" (JFK 14:02);

• The Hooters — "And We Danced," "All You Zombies" (JFK 14:12);

• The Four Tops — "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)," "Bernadette," "It's The Same Old Song," "Reach Out I'll Be There," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" (JFK 14:33);

• Billy Ocean — "Caribbean Queen," "Loverboy" (JFK 14:45);

• Black Sabbath (introduced by Chevy Chase) — "Children of the Grave," "Iron Man," "Paranoid" (JFK 14:52);

• Run-D.M.C. — "Jam Master Jay,", "King Of Rock" (JFK 15:12);

• Rick Springfield — "Love Somebody,", "State Of The Heart", "Human Touch" (JFK 15:30);

• REO Speedwagon — "Can't Fight This Feeling", "Roll With The Changes" (with the Beach Boys on backing vocals) (JFK 15:47);

• Crosby, Stills and Nash — "Southern Cross," "Teach Your Children," "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" (JFK 16:15);

• Judas Priest — "Living After Midnight," "The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)," "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" (JFK 16:26);

• Bryan Adams (introduced by Jack Nicholson) — "Kids Wanna Rock," "Summer of '69," "Tears Are Not Enough," "Cuts Like a Knife" (JFK 17:02);

• The Beach Boys (introduced by Marilyn McCoo) — "California Girls," "Help Me, Rhonda", "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "Good Vibrations," "Surfin' USA" (JFK 17:40);

• George Thorogood and the Destroyers — "Who Do You Love" (with Bo Diddley), "The Sky Is Crying," "Madison Blues" (with Albert Collins) (JFK 18:26);

• Simple Minds — "Ghost Dancing," "Don't You (Forget About Me)," "Promised You a Miracle" (JFK 19:07);

• The Pretenders — "Time The Avenger," "Message of Love," "Stop Your Sobbing," "Back on the Chain Gang," "Middle of the Road" (JFK 19:41);

• Santana — "Brotherhood," "Primera Invasion", "Open Invitation," "By The Pool"/"Right Now" (with Pat Metheny) (JFK 20:21);

• Ashford & Simpson— "Solid," "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" (with Teddy Pendergrass) (JFK 20:57);

• Kool & The Gang (prerecorded live video) — "Stand up and Sing," "Cherish" (JFK 21:19)

* Madonna (introduced by Bette Midler) — "Holiday," "Into the Groove," "Love Makes The World Go Round" (JFK 21:27);

* Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (introduced by Don Johnson) — "American Girl," "The Waiting," "Rebels," "Refugee" (JFK 22:14);

• Kenny Loggins — "Footloose" (JFK 22:30);

• The Cars — "You Might Think," "Drive," "Just What I Needed," "Heartbeat City" (JFK 22:49);

• Neil Young — "Sugar Mountain," "The Needle and the Damage Done," "Helpless," "Nothing Is Perfect," "Powderfinger" (JFK 23:07);

• Power Station — "Murderess," "Get It On" (JFK 23:43);

• Thompson Twins — "Hold Me Now," "Revolution" (with Madonna, Steve Stevens and Nile Rodgers) (JFK 00:21);

• Eric Clapton — "White Room", "She's Waiting", "Layla" (JFK 00:39);

• Phil Collins (who has arrived in the U.S. via the Concorde from U.K.) - "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)," "In the Air Tonight" (JFK 01:04);

• Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones — "Rock and Roll," "Whole Lotta Love," "Stairway to Heaven" (JFK 01:10);

• Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," "Daylight Again"/"Find the Cost of Freedom" (JFK 01:40);

• Duran Duran - "A View to a Kill," "Union of the Snake," "Save a Prayer," "The Reflex" (JFK 01:45);

• Patti LaBelle - "New Attitude," "Imagine," "Forever Young," "Stir It Up," "Over The Rainbow," "Why Can't I Get It Over" (JFK 02:20);

• Hall & Oates (with G. E. Smith, musical director for "Saturday Night Live" and former lead guitarist for Hall & Oates) — "Out of Touch," "Maneater," "Get Ready" (with Eddie Kendricks), "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (with David Ruffin), "The Way You Do the Things You Do" (with Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin), "My Girl" (with Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin) (JFK 02:50);

• Mick Jagger — "Lonely At The Top," "Just Another Night." "Miss You," "State of Shock"/"It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)" (with Tina Turner) (JFK 03:15);

• ) Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood — "Ballad of Hollis Brown," "When the Ship Comes In," Blowin' in the Wind" (JFK 03:39),
Finale: USA for Africa — "We Are the World" (JFK 3:55)

Some Informational Sources Provided By: