On This Day in Music History: The Benefit Concert Live Aid is Held

There have been concerts and then there have been concerts. This day (July 13) in 1985 witnessed one of the latter when the monumental Live Aid was held. The bicontinental benefit concert, which took place simultaneously at London, England’s Wembley Stadium and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on this day 38 years ago, was attended by more than 100,000 people. It was also broadcast to a global audience of nearly 2 billion across more than 100 countries.

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The brainchild of musician-activist Bob Geldof, Live Aid was organized to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. The movement began with the recording and release of the 1984 star-studded single “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” which raised millions for the cause, but was only the start of the initiative.

Live Aid would see a coming together of some of music’s biggest acts, more than 75 across the two stages, including Tina Turner, George Michael, Run-DMC, Elton John, Paul McCartney, The Who, Bob Dylan, U2, Madonna, David Bowie, and most iconically Queen to name just a few.

Revisit Queen’s legendary, show-stealing Live Aid set below.

The all-star affair would raise more than $100 million for the cause. Throughout the years since, however, the event has been more often marred by controversy than praise. Live Aid and its organizers were criticized for the lack of diversity in its performances, the lineup seeing very few Black artists on either stage. The allocation of funds raised was also put under a microscope following the event with reports coming in that money had been siphoned off to buy arms or that the overall event did more harm than it did in aiding the Ethiopian people.

Live Aid’s legacy may be a complicated one, but it gave life to a new style of activism, becoming the catalyst for events like Farm Aid, an annual concert that benefits America’s farmers.

(Photo by Linda D. Robbins/Getty Images)

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