An Oral History of Live Aid:
The Ones Who Made a Brighter Day, 30 Years Ago
They were the world. They were the rock ‘n’ children. Hard as it may be to believe, it was 30 long years ago, on July 13, 1985, that more than 60 artists, 170,000 concertgoers, and a whopping 1.9 billion television viewers across 150 nations gathered for Sir Bob Geldof’s massive Live Aid “superconcerts” — held jointly at London’s Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Stadium, and inspired by the all-star charity singles “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “We Are the World,” to raise funds for Ethiopian famine relief.
Three decades later, where those funds went, exactly, is still a hot topic of debate. However, every '80s child remembers tuning in to MTV, and every artist that graced those two revolving stages agrees that music history was made that day. Prince Charles and Princess Diana rubbed epauletted shoulders with David Bowie; Sean Penn (aka Mr. Madonna Ciccone at the time) hung out in a trailer with Simple Minds; Mick Jagger de-skirted Tina Turner on live television; the original “Fab Five” Duran Duran lineup played its last show for the next 18 years; Phil Collins hopped on the Concorde in order to appear at both concerts; Queen and U2 played gigs of a lifetime; and everyone from elder statesmen Page & Plant, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young to new wave newbies Thomas Dolby and Howard Jones joined forces for a singalong heard 'round the world.