Pierre Robert

Pierre Robert

Pierre Robert

Live Aid, the day the music changed the world, took place on July 13, 1985.

The legendary benefit show emanated from Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. It helped raise more than $125 million for African famine relief efforts and was broadcast live in 110 countries and was watched by over a billion people worldwide.

Live Aid remains one of the biggest music moments in history. Some of the most legendary acts performed during the show. In the case of U2, it helped cement the band’s status as one of the best live acts ever. However, Bono has a hard time looking back on the memorable performance. Why? His prominent ’80s mullet.

He wrote in 2022 memoir Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, “…As for the show itself, influential though it was in the arc of our band, I confess that I find it excruciating to watch. It’s a little humbling that during one of the greatest moments of your life, you’re having a bad hair day.”

Bad hair days aside, Live Aid was such a massive cultural moment that it is the subject of an upcoming stage musical, Just For One Day, which ran at the Old Vic Theatre in London’s West End from January 26 to March 30. Deadline reported in October 2023 that Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof attached to the production.

Director Luke Sheppard helmed Just For One Day, with John O’Farrell writing the book. The premise of the show revolves around the people that helped make Live Aid happen. Sheppard told Deadline that Just For One Day looks at Live Aid “from all angles, including from the technicians who are trying to pull off this satellite broadcast to the first-aid worker who was running the first-aid tent.”

Of course, Geldof is a character in the show. Sheppard noted of the Geldof character, ” … The character who embodies Bob on stage has found within him, I think, a similar kind of fiery spirit and a similar kind of attitude on that stage. So when you watch the show, Bob, he’s instantly recognizable.”

As for the music in the production, some of the songs performed at Live Aid have been cleared for use. Sheppard alluded that Geldof was particularly helpful in this regard. Playbill notes the jukebox musical features songs from Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Who, U2, Queen, The Police, Elton John, Paul McCartney, The Pretenders, The Cars, Status Quo, Paul Weller, Sade, The Boomtown Rats, Bryan Adams, Diana Ross, Ultravox, and more.

In honor of the anniversary of Live Aid, take a look at these ten must-watch performances.

  • Mick Jagger and Tina Turner

    There were a number of collaborations that took part during Live Aid, but the one with the most chemistry was clearly when Jagger and Turner performed “State Of Shock/It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It).”

  • U2

    Still two years away from their major breakthrough with The Joshua Tree, U2 showed the world their performance power with “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Bad” and in the process made the enormity of Wembley Stadium feel like an intimate setting.

  • David Bowie

    Bowie delivered with a tight four-song set that included “TVC 15,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Modern Love” and “Heroes.”

  • The Cars

    The Cars took to the stage at JFK Stadium with a killer set that included “You Might Think,” “Drive,” “Just What I Needed” and “Heartbeat City.”

  • Dire Straits

    Two months prior to Live Aid, Dire Straits released their fifth studio album, Brothers In Arms. One month prior to Live Aid, the band launched the album’s second single, “Money for Nothing” featuring Sting. So, understandably, when Sting joined the band for “Money for Nothing” at Live aid, the crowd went wild.

  • Judas Priest

    The most metal moment to happen during Live Aid was when Judas Priest crushed it at JFK Stadium. Kudos to them for wearing all that leather during the ungodly heat.

  • Madonna

    By the time Live Aid took place, Madonna was one of the biggest, if not the biggest pop star in the world thanks to the release of Like a Virgin, which had been out for nine months.

  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers made the most of their time on stage with a packed four-song set of “American Girl,” “The Waiting,” “Rebels” and Refugee.

  • Paul McCartney

    McCartney was joined on stage by Alison Moyet, David Bowie, Pete Townshend and Bob Geldof to perform the Beatles classic “Let It Be.”

  • Queen

    Last but definitely not least is Queen, who ruled the day with what would become one of the best live performances in music history. And decades years later, few have touched the magic Queen created on stage at Live Aid.

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