Do you remember Live Aid? I seem to have some memories of the day, but I was only 9 years old and can’t really be sure of how much is from seeing the event live on the television or from news reports afterwards. I do remember the famine in Ethiopia. For my generation I suspect that the memories are still so powerful it’s what we immediately think of when Africa is mentioned, starving children.
This week BBC4 have been marking the anniversary of Live Aid with a couple of programmes that show how the concert was put together. It may have been one of the largest concerts ever put on but it was pulled together by Bob Geldof, Harvey Goldsmith and Midge Ure with bluff, smokescreen and an inability to accept the word ‘no’. If you can access the BBC’s iPlayer it’s worth taking a look at the Live Aid programmes broadcast this week – be warned, you usually only get one week to access them.
The concert was claimed to have raised between £40 and £50 million for famine relief. Consider this was back in the 80′s and you’ll start to realise what an amazing feat it was.
This was largely down to two events. One was Bob Geldof charging into the BBC commentary box because he was sure the TV wasn’t making enough appeals. He just sat down, looked at the camera and said, ‘send me your money’. He’s been misquoted a bit as he was reported to have dropped an expletive into the appeal, but looking back at the television footage it’s clear that he didn’t. He swore at the BBC commentator who wouldn’t give the phone number out before reading the appeal address.
Then there was David Bowie – even a huge star back then – he cut his set short to be able to show the following film.
You’ve got to feel sorry for the Who, who were the next band on stage.
The acts that appeared realised pretty early on that performing could make a real difference to their careers. While everyone was pretty good, two bands stand out for special mention. U2, who were a new(ish) band and Queen, who had been huge but had kind of started a downward slide. Both bands managed to command the huge crowd in their own unique ways.