July 13th, 1985, was a historic day of music that will stay with me forever. In 1985, I was fully engaged and actively discovering music. This includes listening to as much new music as possible but also diving deep into a wide range of music, artists and bands that were making their mark on music before my love of music began.
Live Aid was a benefit concert fundraising effort organized by Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Thin Lizzy and Ultravox. The funds raised were to provide relief for the Ethiopian famine. The satellite global broadcast event was held simultaneously at both Wembley Stadium in London and the old John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. Estimate say over 160,000 people attended the two concerts. There were also other concerts held across the globe. Live Aid became one of the largest television broadcasts of all time. Additional estimates set the viewing audience at 1.9 billion with the program airing in over 150 nations. It was apparently seen by almost 40% of the humans on earth.
As most music fans know, the 1985 Live Aid concert was developed after the success of a charity song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" which was also the brought to life by Geldof and Ure. As a young music fan, listening to pop music and having MTV (Music Television) on constantly in my house, the passion put into the song was not only infectious but spotlighted the talents of so many artists.
When MTV announced it would cover the concert in its near entirety, I immediately did two things. First I planned to watch as much of the concert as possible. Second, I set my mind to record as much of the concert as possible on video. I was able to use my Betamax (that’s right a Betamax). I was then able to transfer the video sound through my cassette deck and record a bunch of my favorite songs from the concert.
The concert was amazing. The lineup included Bernard Watson, Joan Baez, The Hooters, Four Tops, Billy Ocean, Black Sabbath, Run DMC, Rick Springfield, REO Speedwagon, Crosby Stills and Nash, Judas Priest, Bryan Adams, The Beach Boys, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Simple Minds, Pretenders, Santana, Ashford & Simpson, Madonna, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Kenny Loggins, The Cars, Neil Young, The Power Station, Thompson Twins, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Led Zeppelin, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Duran Duran, Patti LaBelle, Hall & Oats, Mick Jagger with Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood and USA for Africa.
The duets were incredible. The U2 and Queen sets were legendary. The Led Zepplin reunion was icing on a cake that included a who’s who of artists giving all they had to raise money and awareness for those in need. It was impressive to see Phil Collins jet on the concord to play both London and Philly live. Every act, from the hometown favorites like The Hooters and Hall and Oates to the greats like Clapton, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan brought their talent and love for humanity to their performances.
I watched almost every minute of the concerts. During my bathroom breaks (squeezed in-between commercials and interviews, I turned up the volume so I did not miss anything important. The concert was one of the most important music events I have ever seen or heard.
The audio recording became part of my music collection. Weeks after the show, I remember being on the beach with my boom box playing the songs from the concert. The portion where Sting was playing opposite Phil Collins was playing was such a great and timely duet that their songs actually complimented each other in musical message. As Sting sang “Message in a Bottle” from my beach location, I remember a group of girls asking if they would mind if they moved closer to me in the sand to hear the music. Of course I said “That sounds like a great idea.” Note to young people and other readers: MUSIC is a GREAT way to meet people.
My question of the week is “Did you tune in and Listen Up to Live Aid?” If so, I bet you can remember where you were as well. And if you were lucky or smart enough to be there, you have earned my live music concert respect — on multiple levels.
If you see me out or want to catch up with me, share your memories and let’s talk about Live Aid and what it meant and means to you. Revisit the videos and if you hear me playing my recording, feel free to join me!