Where were YOU thirty years ago today? And, more importantly, what were you listening to?
There is only one acceptable answer, assuming you were alive to do it: July 13, 1985 was the date of the only dual-continent concert I’m aware of: Live Aid. From Wikipedia:
Live Aid was a dual-venue concert held on 13 July 1985. The 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, England, United Kingdom (attended by 72,000 people) and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States (attended by about 100,000 people). On the same day, concerts inspired by the initiative happened in other countries, such as Australia and Germany. It was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time: an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations, watched the live broadcast.
Who played? Well , just in case you can’t recall, here’s a partial list:
- Boomtown Rats
- Adam Ant
- Spandau Ballet
- Elvis Costello
- Sting, Phil Collins, and Branford Marsalis
- Howard Jones
- Bryan Ferry with David Gilmour
- U2 (in a performance that kind of established them as a HUGE live act — and this was before Joshua Tree)
- Dire Straits
- David Bowie
- The Who
- Elton John
- Paul McCartney
- Joan Baez
- Black Sabbath (with Ozzy!)
- Run DMC
- Rick Springfield
- REO Speedwagon
- Judas Priest
- The Beach Boys
- The Pretenders
- The Cars
- Neil Young
- Eric Clapton and Phil Collins
- Duran Duran
- Led Fucking Zeppelin (with two drummers, the better to mimic the missing Bonzo)
In this era of endless reunions, it’s probably hard to grasp how amazing that last part is; to my knowledge, Page, Plant, and Jones hadn’t shared a stage since Bonham’s death five years before. Zeppelin were just over. And then, here there they were.
Obviously, lots of amazing things happened at Wembley and and JFK — not the least of which is Phil Collins’ famous status as the only guy to play both venues, courtesy of the Concorde — but thirty years of discussion have led us to the inescapable conclusion that Queen turned in not just the best set of the day, but maybe the best set of rock and roll ever played on any stage.
Sadly, there actually aren’t any complete recordings of the whole affair — partly by design, actually. Queen were somewhat unique in that they captured their whole set, and later had it remastered in 5.1 for inclusion on their Queen Rock Montreal BluRay, which is well worth your time even if you’re only a casual Queen fan.