1985: Live Aid Goes Ahead at Wembley Stadium

1985: Live Aid Goes Ahead at Wembley Stadium

On this day in 1985, the very first Live Aid festival was commenced at Wembley Stadium in London

The brainchild of Bob Geldof, singer of Irish rock group, the Boomtown Rats. Geldof travelled to Ethiopia in 1984 after hearing reports of the horrific famine that had already killed hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians. The scenes he saw in the area affected him greatly and as soon as he returned to London, he organised some of Britain and Irelands best pop performers to write the benefit single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. Geldof was joined by members of Culture Club, Duran Duran, U2, Wham! and Phil Collins in a makeshift group they called “Band Aid”. The song was the most successful single in Britain upon it’s release and it raised more than $10 million for relief efforts in Ethiopia.

Inspired by the success of this single and it’s power to make a positive change in the world, Geldo proposed Live Aid, a global charity concert aimed at increasing awareness and raising funds for the African’s plights. The festival was organised in less than 10 weeks, and over 75 acts performed, including David Bowie, Run-DMC, Sade, the Beach Boys, Queen, The Who, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Elton John and Madonna. The performances were primarily held at Wembley Stadium for a crowd of 70,000 or at the Philadelphia JFK stadium, where 100,000 watched on. Satellits beamed a live stream of the event to over one billion viewers in 110 countries. At least 40 of these countries held telethons during the broadcast to allow for fundraising.

A reunion of Led Zeppelin also occurred at this concert, with Phil Collins taking the drummer’s position. Paul McCartney and The Who’s Pete Townsend held Geldof on their shoulders for the collective performance of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. The concert, opened by Prince Charles and Princess Diana, went for over six hours and raised a further $127 million for famine relief in Africa, as well as encouraging Western countries to send surplus grain to help feed the country. Bob Geldof was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II shortly after the festival for his efforts.