Remembering Live Aid

by Rob Horning

13 July 2010


Remember when pop stars ended world hunger? It was 25 years ago today when Live Aid, a cross-continental benefit concert organized by Boomtown Rats lead singer Bob Geldolf as a follow-up to the charity single “Do They Know Its Christmas?” took place. At the Awl, Dave Bry has a video round-up. The event seemed like the height of hubris at the time, and it has not aged well, though it still seems like a better idea than Hands Across America.

I spent the day 25 years ago intermittently watching Live Aid in between summertime wiffle-ball games in the neighborhood where I grew up. I remember thinking that it was surprising Queen was so popular in the UK. Bono seemed to be trying too hard. Why did Bryan Ferry croon into two microphones instead of one? Phil Collins got special attention by jetting across the ocean to drum for acts on both the London and the Philadelphia stages. Duran Duran singer Simon LeBon’s voice cracked in a ridiculous manner when they performed “A View to a Kill,” their awful James Bond theme. As the sun set that day, it was just staring to dawn on me that the new wave acts I was really into at the time weren’t all that good, and that Live Aid wasn’t really going to become my generation’s Woodstock. It had the long-term effect of making me skeptical about celebrity-charity schemes, and possibly charity in general, making the whole prospect seem like an ego trip. I wonder if Live Aid may have helped galvanize an entire generation of libertarian cynics.


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