Do you remember what you were doing 25 years ago today? Maybe not, if you are young. But if you are less young, chances are you spent at least some part of the day in front of the television, watching rock stars perform in front of 72,000 people at England’s Wembley Stadium or 99,000 people at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium. July 13th, 1985 was Live Aid.
The event, organized by the Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof in an effort to raise money to bring food to millions of people starving in Africa, was in some ways a huge success: over two billion people watched the worldwide broadcast, and it’s been estimated that over $280 million was raised. Unfortunately, it has also been estimated that much of this money never made it to the people for which it was intended-that it instead went into supporting military dictatorships that in fact oppressed their citizens.
And so the show stands as much as a symbol of folly as it does of goodwill: the rich and famous rock stars assuaging their guilty consciences, when really: how much fuel was burned to jet Phil Collins across the Atlantic on the Concorde, just so he could play a shitty set with a reunited Led Zeppelin? Other particularly shitty sets were performed by Duran Duran, Bob Dylan and Keith Richards and Ron Wood, and Paul McCartney, whose microphone didn’t work. But, you know, I think good intentions should be appreciated. And lots of the music was pretty great.
Here are videos, arranged in the order in which they occurred the day of show. At the very least, the footage provides for a wonderful time capsule of ridiculous fashion and amazingly bad haircuts. Madonna wanted to know if you were ready to get into the groove! And you can totally see Freddie Mercury’s penis.