On this day (13th July) in 1985, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure put on a dual-venue ‘Live Aid’ concert in order to raise money for the relief of the ongoing famine in Ethiopia – Wembley Stadium was one venue, John F. Kennedy Stadium the other.
The former held a capacity crowd on the day of 72,000 people, whilst the latter had a full-capacity of around 100,000. It was one of the largest television broadcasts of all-time, with an estimated 1.9 billion viewers worldwide, spanning 150 countries.
The concert was a follow-on from the successful Christmas number one of the previous year, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ – which featured some of the decade’s biggest artists in the world singing on it. The likes of Bono, Eric Clapton, Boy George, Elton John, Simon Le Bon, Freddie Mercury, and George Michael all sang on the track that was at number one in the UK charts for five weeks and raised over £8 million.
But of course, what Live Aid is most remembered for is the musical performances. The Coldstream Guards band opened with the ‘Royal Salute’ and ‘God Save The Queen’, before power chord legends Status Quo took to the stage to get the party started with ‘Rocking All Over The World’. It was to be the last time that the band ever performed with founding member and bassist Alan Lancaster.
The likes of U2, David Bowie, Elvis Costello and The Who all provided audiences with memorable performances on the day, but it was the 20-minute long set from a certain band called Queen that stole the show. The performance has since been voted the best live performance by a rock band of all-time – though that could almost be argued as an understatement. At the time, Queen’s popularity was waning and they were becoming “uncool”, but their performance on 13th July 1985, catapulted them back into the mainstream.
The set opened with the iconic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ with 72,000 people singing every single word, but that was nothing compared with what was to come. Queen’s sound engineer had switched out the limiters that had been installed on the stadium’s sound system so that the band’s performance was louder than any other on the day. The next song performed by the band was one of Live Aid’s most memorable moments – ‘Radio Ga Ga’. Every pair of hands at Wembley Stadium that day clapped along during the chorus, and it made for amazing viewing. In this performance, Queen established themselves as the greatest live act in the world, and Freddie Mercury established himself as the best frontman in history.
Live Aid was supposed to raise a mere £1million for the famine in Ethiopia. The actual amount raised? £150million.
Watch Queen’s awe-inspiring Live Aid performance below.