Live Aid concert brings world population to a standstill

Published: Thu 18 Aug 2022, 2:58 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 Aug 2022, 3:02 PM

1985 saw a historical concert in Live Aid. It was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium (London, England) and the John F Kennedy Stadium (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) on July 13th of that year. It was also a music-based fundraising initiative for the relief of the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia.

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As per this analysis, Live Aid was 'the music gig of all music gigs'.

Broadcaster Richard Skinner opened the Live Aid concert with the words: “It's 12 noon in London, 7 am in Philadelphia, and around the world, it's time for Live Aid.” BBC broadcasted the historic concert for Europe while ABC took responsibility for the US broadcast. Around 1.9 billion people from over 150 countries tuned in to witness the music's biggest day unfold. The moment was rare as some of the biggest names in the world of music seemingly took an active interest in the world's political and economic inequalities and stepped up to lead relief efforts.

Total attendees of 72,000 people were present in the London venue and 89,484 were present in Philadelphia. On the same day, concerts inspired by the initiative were held in other countries, such as the Soviet Union, Canada, Japan, Yugoslavia, Austria, Australia and West Germany.

It was one of the largest satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time; an estimated audience of 1.9 billion in 150 nations watched the live broadcast, nearly 40 per cent of the world population.

London hosted one of the most iconic live music performances of all time, with Freddie Mercury and Queen playing the show of their lives. Their 21-minute performance was later voted the greatest live show in the history of rock music. Mercury at times led the crowd in unison refrains, and his sustained note—'Aaaaaay-o'—during the a cappella section came to be known as 'The Note Heard Round the World'. He opened his masterpiece with 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and ended with the notes of 'We Are the Champions'. Later on, Mercury and band member Brian May sang the first song of the three-part Wembley event finale, 'Is This the World We Created.'

Alongside Queen, there were also performances from U2, The Who, David Bowie, and the Boomtown Rats, featuring Geldof himself, among many more. Among its laudable prime organisers were Harvey Goldsmith (London) and Bill Graham (Philadelphia).

The event was so memorable that in 1995, VH1 and MuchMusic aired a re-edited ten-hour re-broadcast of the concert for the 10th anniversary of Live Aid.

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