Live Aid

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The Live Aid Stage in Philadelphia

Live Aid was a charity concert that was held on July 13, 1985 in aid of Africa . It was largely organized by the musicians Bob Geldof and Midge Ure on the occasion of the acute famine in Ethiopia at the time . It was the continuation of the Band Aid project that Geldof had previously organized. This was followed by Band-Aid-II (1989) and Band Aid 20 (2004). Live Aid was the biggest rock concert in history to date . It took place in parallel in London's Wembley Stadium (subtitled Feed the World ) and in the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia . The suggestion for this concert came from Boy George , who then did not participate with his band Culture Club despite being invited.


On the two stages in London and Philadelphia, most of the international top stars of the music scene of that time alternately appeared for more than 16 hours. ( Michael Jackson , Bruce Springsteen and Prince did not attend)

Participants were u. a .:

The event was given special status by the appearances of several bands that had reunited specifically for the occasion. This is especially true for Led Zeppelin - dissolved after the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980 and therefore now officially only appears under the name "Plant, Page and Jones", with Phil Collins and Tony Thompson ( Chic ) on drums -, The Who - since 1982 - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young , who had not played in four groups since 1974, Status Quo, who refused to give concerts after their farewell concert the year before, and Black Sabbath , for the first time since 1979 again with Ozzy Osbourne as singer. The performances of Led Zeppelin and The Who, however, were not under a good star. Both groups were audibly under-rehearsed (Led Zeppelin refused to allow it to be released on DVD), and global satellite broadcasting collapsed during The Who performance.

Other expected or hoped for reunions did not materialize. Sting played a police set alone , Mick Jagger performed solo without Keith Richards and Ron Wood , who were also present ; these two played in a threesome with Bob Dylan. George Harrison , Ringo Starr and Julian Lennon wanted to avoid a possible Beatles reunion.

Phil Collins was the only artist who appeared on both concerts. After his appearance at Wembley Stadium, he flew to Philadelphia with the Concorde and played there with Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton, among others.

The 20-minute performance by Queen is, even today, not only a highlight of the concert, but often the best live performance.

The concert was broadcast worldwide by satellite on television and radio and reached almost 1.5 billion people. In the USA, the then still young music broadcaster MTV secured the transmission rights.

The proceeds of the worldwide appeals for donations of approx. 200 million DM (equivalent to 182 million euros today) went to aid hunger in Africa. On November 9, 2004, a DVD set of this concert with a duration of about 10 hours was released. The proceeds from this should also flow into hunger aid for Africa. Most of the money went to the organizations UNICEF , Bread for the World and the Band Aid Trust .

On July 2, 2005, on the occasion of the G8 conference in Edinburgh , Geldof organized a continuation of the Live Aid concerts under the new name Live 8 . This time, no donations were collected, but signatures that were supposed to induce the decision-makers in the G8 countries to increase development aid and to cancel the debt for Africa. The highlight in 2005 was the unique reunion of Pink Floyd in the classic line-up with Roger Waters .


Early on it was assumed that many of the artists were more concerned with public relations on their own behalf than with help for Africa. In addition, it was sometimes criticized that no long-term, structurally sustainable aid had been provided and that the underlying causes of hunger had not been combated.

As early as July 1986, the British music magazine Spin complained that a large part of the money was not for the hungry, but for v. a. the socialist program of the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam and his army had benefited. Through the aid payments it is this u. a. possible to rise to the largest and best equipped army in sub-Saharan Africa . As a result of the article, several music industry advertisers threatened to stop advertising in Spin , and the Wall Street Journal praised the reporters' investigative coverage.

In March 2010, Martin Plaut, a journalist for the British broadcaster BBC , claimed that the non-governmental organizations entrusted with the spending of the money had been deceived and that around $ 95 million of the donations raised had in fact been passed on to the Tigray People's Liberation Front . Instead of using this money for food, she is said to have used it for weapons and building a Marxist wing of her party. The BBC relies on statements from Gebremedhin Araya, a former member of the Tigray People's Liberation Front, and Aregawi Berhe, the former commanding officer. Plaut also relies on a report from the CIA. Geldof denied the allegations in an interview with the BBC. On November 4, 2010, the BBC apologized to Geldof for the "misleading and unfair impression" created by its reporting. After an investigation by the BBC Complaints Editor, the broadcaster announced that there was no evidence that Band Aid or Live Aid funds had been misappropriated. Statements alluding to it would have been better not broadcast, it said. Geldof spoke of an "unusual violation" of BBC standards.

Live Aid playlist


The John F. Kennedy Stadium was located on the site of today's Wells Fargo Center . A few days after a Grateful Dead concert took place there on July 7, 1989 , serious security deficiencies were discovered, whereupon the stadium was closed with immediate effect and demolished in September 1992.

See also


  • Bob Geldof : That's it. Childhood and Adolescence in Dublin - The Boomtown Rats - Band Aid and Live Aid. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1987, ISBN 978-3-462-01859-2 .
  • Peter Gill: Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid. Oxford University Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-19-956984-7 .
  • Ralf Friedrichs : The Lesson Today. When I returned on July 13, 1985. Rheinlese Verlag, Ingelheim 2011. ISBN 978-3-9808820-6-4 .
  • Tanja Müller: The Ethiopian famine revisited. Band Aid and the antipolitics of celebrity humanitarian action , in: Disasters 37 (1), 2012, pp. 61–79.

Individual evidence

  1. The original mother of all benefit spectacles - the concert broke all records. In: July 13, 2015, accessed July 13, 2015 .
  2. 1985: The greatest music spectacle of all time - Live Aid
  5. Live Aid: The Terrible Truth. In: Spin . July 13, 2015, accessed March 19, 2018 . (Article from July 1986)
  6. BBC: Ethiopia famine aid 'spent on weapons'. Article dated March 3, 2010, accessed June 4, 2010.
  7. CIA report 'Ethiopia: Political and Security Impact of the Drought' from 1985 Search for Ethiopia, then scroll to 1984/1985 time period
  8. Spiegel Online : Bob Geldof denies donation fraud. Article dated March 7, 2010, accessed June 4, 2010
  9. BBC begs Bob Geldof's forgiveness. In: Spiegel Online from November 4, 2010
  10. BBC apologises over Band Aid money reports. in: BBC of November 4, 2010
  11. City Closes Jfk Stadium . July 14, 1998. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  12. Bob Geldof's know-it-all ignorance. in: from October 23, 2010.