“The point of the record had been to raise money but, more important, to raise issues and make a gesture. After my trip to Africa, that issue had to be writ larger.” Bob Geldof, Is That It.
Bob Geldof came back from Africa determined to do more. He realized that while it was an incredible start, Band Aid’s £8 million was nothing in comparison to the scale of devastation he had witnessed in Africa.
“The idea is we start at noon here, go on until 5 p.m. Then we join with America on a live two-way satellite relay. We have five hours of relay, back and forth every other act, and then at 10 p.m. we hand over to America and they run for five hours. At the same time we broadcast constant appeal and give people phone numbers pledging donations with credit cards.”Bob Geldof pitching his idea to Harvey Goldsmith, Britain’s leading pop promoter at that time, Is that It.
The result, a mere 5 months later, was Live Aid –the world’s first trans-Atlantic 17 hour long charity concert performed live in Philadelphia and London on July 13, 1985.
More than 75 of Rock and Roll’s biggest names including Elton John, Madonna, Santana, Run DMC, Sade, Sting, Bryan Adams, the Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Queen, Duran Duran, U2, the Who, Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton performed – some at the Wembley Stadium in London, where a crowd of 70,000 turned out, others at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium, where a crowd of 100,000 watched.
Thirteen satellites beamed a live television broadcast of the event to more than one billion viewers in 110 countries. More than 40 of these nations held telethons for African famine relief during the broadcast, with live pleas from world leaders like Bishop Desmond Tutu, Coretta Scott King, Jihan Sadat and Rajiv Gandhi.
Phil Collins’ performed in Wembley, took the Concorde to Philadelphia where he performed later the same day.
“By midmorning the American Telephone and Telegraph Company reported that a toll-free telephone line set up to receive pledges was overloaded. The lines remained jammed for much of the day. The 1,126 circuits, staffed by 900 volunteers got more traffic than they could handle.” Jim Byrnes, A.T.&T spokesperson.
(Images c0urtesy YouTube & U2’s website).