At 12 noon on the 13th July 1985, an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion people tuned in to watch Live Aid, the “global jukebox” broadcast live from Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia.
Live Aid was organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure with the aim of raising money to support Ethiopians suffering from an ongoing famine. They were prompted to take action after BBC news reporter Michael Buerk broadcast a report in 1984 in which he described the situation in Ethiopia as “a biblical famine in the 20th Century” and “the closest thing to hell on Earth”.
Having released the all-star Band Aid charity single in December 1984 in aid of the same cause, Geldof was encouraged to stage a concert by Boy George of Culture Club. He had enthusiastically suggested a concert after a group of fellow stars had joined his band onstage at Wembley Arena for an impromptu performance of Do They Know It’s Christmas at the end of a concert.
The concert ran for a continuous 16 hours, with the performance opening in London and continuing in Philadelphia. The technical requirements of the transatlantic concert made it one of the most ambitious satellite broadcasts of its time which was transmitted to 150 countries around the world.
News reports the day after the concert stated that the event had raised upwards of £40 million. Thirty years on, the legacy of Live Aid continues with the Live8 concerts of 2005 and continued CD and DVD sales generating £150 million for famine relief.