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Live Aid was a benefit concert held on Saturday 13 July , as well as an ongoing music-based fundraising initiative. The original event was organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for relief of the ongoing Ethiopian famine. Billed as the "global jukebox", the event was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London, UK, attended by about 72, people, and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia , US, attended by exactly 89, people. 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-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time; an estimated audience of 1. The impact of Live Aid on famine relief has been debated for years. One aid relief worker stated that following the publicity generated by the concert, "humanitarian concern is now at the centre of foreign policy" for western governments.
It has been alleged that much of this, however, went to the Ethiopian government of Mengistu Haile Mariam — a regime the UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wanted to "destabilise"  — and it is also alleged some funds were spent on guns. The idea to stage a charity concert to raise more funds for Ethiopia originally came from Boy George , the lead singer of Culture Club.
On the final night at Wembley, 22 December , an impromptu gathering of some of the other artists from Band Aid joined Culture Club on stage at the end of the concert for an encore of "Do They Know It's Christmas? George was so overcome by the occasion he told Geldof that they should consider organising a benefit concert. Speaking to the UK music magazine Melody Maker at the beginning of January , Geldof revealed his enthusiasm for George's idea, saying, "If George is organising it, you can tell him he can call me at any time and I'll do it.
It's a logical progression from the record, but the point is you don't just talk about it, you go ahead and do it! It was clear from the interview that Geldof had already had the idea to hold a dual venue concert and how the concerts should be structured:.
The show should be as big as is humanly possible. There's no point just 5, fans turning up at Wembley ; we need to have Wembley linked with Madison Square Gardens , and the whole show to be televised worldwide. It would be great for Duran to play three or four numbers at Wembley, and then flick to Madison Square where Springsteen would be playing. While he's on, the Wembley stage could be made ready for the next British act like the Thompsons or whoever. In that way, lots of acts could be featured and the television rights, tickets and so on could raise a phenomenal amount of money.
It's not an impossible idea, and certainly one worth exploiting. On how Geldof got artists to agree to play, Live Aid production manager Andy Zweck states, "Bob had to play some tricks to get artists involved.
He had to call Elton and say Queen are in and Bowie's in, and of course they weren't. Then he'd call Bowie and say Elton and Queen are in. It was a game of bluff. Among those involved in organising Live Aid were Harvey Goldsmith , who was responsible for the Wembley Stadium concert, and Bill Graham , who put together the American leg.
Bob [Geldof] arrived in my office and basically said, 'We're doing this. The concert grew in scope, as more acts were added on both sides of the Atlantic. Tony Verna , inventor of instant replay , was able to secure John F. Kennedy Stadium through his friendship with Philadelphia Mayor Goode and was able to procure, through his connections with ABC 's prime time chief, John Hamlin, a three-hour prime time slot on the ABC Network and, in addition, was able to supplement the lengthy program through meetings that resulted in the addition of an ad-hoc network within the US, which covered 85 per cent of TVs there.
Verna designed the needed satellite schematic and became the Executive Director as well as the Co-Executive Producer along with Hal Uplinger.
Uplinger came up with the idea to produce a four-hour video edit of Live Aid to distribute to those countries without the necessary satellite equipment to rebroadcast the live feed. It continued at John F. Thus, the concert continued for just over 16 hours, but since many artists' performances were conducted simultaneously in Wembley and JFK, the total concert's length was much longer.
Problems of synchronisation meant the only practical solution was to have one artist, likely Bowie at Wembley, mime along to prerecorded vocals broadcast as part of the live sound mix for Jagger's performance from Philadelphia. Veteran music engineer David Richards Pink Floyd and Queen was brought in to create footage and sound mixes Jagger and Bowie could perform to in their respective venues. The BBC would then have had to ensure those footage and sound mixes were in sync while also performing a live vision mix of the footage from both venues.
The combined footage would then have had to be bounced back by satellite to the various broadcasters around the world.
Due to the time lag the signal would take several seconds to be broadcast twice across the Atlantic Ocean , Richards concluded there was no way for Jagger to hear or see Bowie's performance, meaning there could be no interaction between the artists, essentially defeating the whole point of the exercise. On top of this, both artists objected to the idea of miming at what was perceived as a historic event.
Instead, Jagger and Bowie worked with Richards to create a video clip of the song they would have performed, a cover of " Dancing in the Street ", which was shown on the screens of both stadiums and broadcast as part of many TV networks' coverage.
Each of the two main parts of the concert ended with their particular continental all-star anti-hunger anthems, with Band Aid 's " Do They Know It's Christmas?
Concert organisers have subsequently said they were particularly keen to ensure at least one surviving member of the Beatles , ideally Paul McCartney , took part in the concert as they felt that having an 'elder statesman' from British music would give it greater legitimacy in the eyes of the political leaders whose opinions the performers were trying to shape.
McCartney agreed to perform and has said it was "the management" — his children — who persuaded him to take part. In the event, he was the last performer aside from the Band Aid finale to take to the stage and one of the few to be beset by technical difficulties; his microphone failed for the first two minutes of his piano performance of " Let It Be ", making it difficult for television viewers and impossible for those in the stadium to hear him.
As well as his own set at both venues, he also played the drums for Eric Clapton , and played with the reuniting surviving members of Led Zeppelin at JFK. On the Concorde flight, Collins encountered actress and singer Cher , who was unaware of the concerts.
Upon reaching the US, she attended the Philadelphia concert and can be seen performing as part of the concert's " We Are the World " finale.
Broadcaster Richard Skinner opened the Live Aid concert with the words:. The concert was the most ambitious international satellite television venture that had ever been attempted at the time.
Unfortunately, in the rush to set up the transatlantic feeds, the sound feed from Philadelphia was sent to London via transatlantic cable, while the video feed was via satellite, which meant a lack of synchronisation on British television receivers.
The BBC, however, did supply a 'clean feed' to various television channels in Europe. An entirely separate and simultaneous US feed was provided for cable viewers by MTV , whose broadcast was presented in stereo, and accessible as such for those with stereo televisions.
At the time, before Multichannel television sound was enacted nationwide, very few televisions reproduced stereo signals and few television stations were able to broadcast in stereo.
As a result, many songs were omitted due to the commercial breaks, as these songs were played during these slots. In , VH1 and MuchMusic aired a re-edited ten-hour re-broadcast of the concert for its 10th anniversary. The Live Aid concert in London was also the first time that the BBC outside broadcast sound equipment had been used for an event of such scale.
In stark contrast to the mirrored sound systems commonly used by the rock band touring engineers, with two 40—channel mixing consoles at the front of house and another pair for monitors, the BBC sound engineers had to use multiple channel desks. Some credit this as the point where the mainstream entertainment industry realised that the rock concert industry had overtaken them in technical expertise. He stopped just after the line "The lesson today is how to die" to loud applause.
He was a sort of statesman. A link between punk and the New Romantics and the Eighties. You would follow him. He just has a huge charisma; he'd make a frightening politician. Elvis Costello sang a version of the Beatles' " All You Need Is Love ", which he introduced by asking the audience to "help [him] sing this old northern English folk song". Other well-received performances on the day included those by U2 and David Bowie. The Guardian cited Live Aid as the event that made stars of U2.
The length of "Bad" limited them to two songs; the third, " Pride In the Name of Love ", had to be dropped. She was being crushed by people pushing forwards; Bono saw this, and gestured frantically at the ushers to help her. They did not understand what he was saying, and so he jumped down to help her himself. In addition, the transatlantic broadcast from Wembley Stadium suffered technical problems and failed during The Who 's performance of their opening song " My Generation ", immediately after Roger Daltrey sang "Why don't you all fade John Entwistle 's bass wouldn't work at the start, causing an awkward delay of over a minute before they could start playing.
The band played with Kenney Jones on drums and it was their first performance since disbanding after a 'farewell' tour. The Who's performance, including an at times chaotic but blistering version of " Won't Get Fooled Again ", was described as "rough but right" by Rolling Stone , but they would not perform together again for another three years.
The stadium audience, who could obviously not hear the electronic sound feed from these mics, unless they had portable TV sets and radios, drowned out what little sound from McCartney could be heard during this part of his performance. As a result, organiser and performer Bob Geldof, accompanied by earlier performers David Bowie, Alison Moyet and Pete Townshend returned to the stage to sing with him and back him up as did the stadium audience despite not being able to hear much , by which time McCartney's microphone had been repaired.
The Wembley speaker system was provided by Hill Pro Audio. The host of the televised portion of the concert in Philadelphia was actor Jack Nicholson. The opening artist Joan Baez announced to the crowd, "this is your Woodstock , and it's long overdue," before leading the crowd in singing " Amazing Grace " and "We Are the World".
During his opening number, " American Girl ", Tom Petty flipped the middle finger to somebody off stage about one minute into the song. Petty stated the song was a last-minute addition when the band realised that they would be the first act to play the American side of the concert after the London finale and "since this is, after all, JFK Stadium". Wood was left standing on stage guitarless. After shrugging to the audience, he played air guitar , even mimicking the Who 's Pete Townshend by swinging his arm in wide circles, until a stagehand brought him a replacement.
The performance was included in the DVD, including the guitar switch and Wood talking to stage hands, but much of the footage used was close-ups of either Dylan or Richards. During their duet on the reprise of "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll", Mick Jagger ripped away part of Tina Turner 's dress, leaving her to finish the song in what was, effectively, a leotard. Teddy Pendergrass made his first public appearance since his near-fatal car accident in which paralysed him. Duran Duran performed a four-song set which was the final time the five original band members would publicly perform together until The UK TV feed from Philadelphia was dogged by an intermittent buzzing on the sound during Bryan Adams' turn on stage and continued less frequently throughout the rest of the UK reception of the American concert and both the audio and video feed failed entirely during that performance and during Simple Minds ' performance.
Phil Collins, who had performed in London earlier in the day, began his solo set with the quip, "I was in England this afternoon. Funny old world, innit? Throughout the concerts, viewers were urged to donate money to the Live Aid cause. Three hundred phone lines were manned by the BBC, so that members of the public could make donations using their credit cards. The phone number and an address that viewers could send cheques to were repeated every twenty minutes. He is said to have been sorely disappointed by the amount and marched to the BBC commentary position.
Pumped up further by a performance by Queen which he later called "absolutely amazing", Geldof gave an interview in which BBC presenter David Hepworth had attempted to provide a postal address to which potential donations could be sent; Geldof interrupted him in mid-flow and shouted "Fuck the address, let's get the numbers".
Although the phrase "give us your fucking money" has passed into folklore, Geldof has stated that it was never uttered. Later in the evening, following David Bowie's set, a video shot by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was shown to the audiences in London and Philadelphia, as well as on televisions around the world though neither US feed showed the film , showing starving and diseased Ethiopian children set to " Drive " by The Cars. This would also be shown at the London Live 8 concert in The rate of donations became faster in the immediate aftermath of the video.