The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Live Aid at 25

with 3 comments

It was 25 years ago today that two massive, historic concerts were organized for African famine relief. Live Aid, performed in London’s Wembley Arena and Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium on July 13, 1985, was one of those rare overblown rock success stories – dozens of superstars and members of rock royalty coming together not at the behest of a politician or a natural disaster, but simply because it seemed the right thing to do. It raised millions for charity, it provided a massive plug for the Concorde jet (Phil Collins took one to play at both shows) and it helped make a little Irish band one of the biggest in the world.

In 2005, after lots of eager waiting from music fans, portions of the Live Aid broadcast were released on DVD for the 20th anniversary of the shows. It wasn’t easy to get the footage on DVD; Geldof originally wanted none of the shows to be preserved on tape, to enhance the once-in-a-lifetime feel of the event. (Even American network ABC-TV willingly erased the footage when they were done with it – and backups donated to the Smithsonian Institution remain missing.) Ultimately, the shows were sourced from footage recorded by the BBC and MTV, although some of the footage and audio were edited differently than originally intended.

Whatever the merits of the DVD set may be to you, treasured reader, your humble catalogue correspondent is sure you might agree that Live Aid was an important moment in rock history, and deserves some sort of preservation. To that end, it’s curious that Live Aid organizers Bob Geldof and Midge Ure never collaborated with the major music labels to release some sort of audio-document of Live Aid (a Herculean task, to be sure, but one Geldof would probably be able to do, given his tireless sense of activism).

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you were allowed the opportunity to select which portions of the shows would be released. Assuming you could only pick five songs (to go into a pool of possible tunes), which ones would you pick? The killer version of U2’s “Bad”? Something from Queen’s incendiary set? Duran Duran? The Hooters? Madonna? That almost-Led Zeppelin reunion? Run-D.M.C.? (I’d pick any of those – and I’d throw in a bonus track recorded after Live Aid but still fitting within the context: the never-on-CD, Sport Aid charity single/remix of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Run the World.”)

Feel free to share your memories and thoughts of Live Aid below.

Written by Mike Duquette

July 13, 2010 at 12:39

3 Responses

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  1. I was living overseas at the time, and didn’t have access to cable, so I asked a friend to record it. I think I still have the tapes-just in Beta format ( it’s what we used in that part of the world).

    The one thing I remember about LiveAid from the US/MTV broadcast is the constant questioning about the lighting system on stage, and if it was Bruce Springsteens’ lighting rig or not. If I remember correctly, they asked people who had nothing to do with, or ever saw/worked with Springsteen. It got really annoying after five minutes. They were trying to figure out if he was going to make a surprise visit or not.


    July 13, 2010 at 12:49

  2. “it provided a massive plug for the Concorde jet (Phil Collins took one to play at both shows)”

    I guess any publicity is good publicity. 😉


    July 13, 2010 at 14:29

  3. Without a doubt, Queen ruled that day… Their set was essential. It was also the day I became a U2 fan. I was slow to get into them, but they won me over that day.

    I wish the Zep reunion would’ve been released. No, it wasn’t earth-shattering… But it was good enough. A shame Plant & Page didn’t want it released.


    July 14, 2010 at 20:31

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