BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Monday, 8 November 2004, 09:10 GMT
Stars recall Live Aid spectacular
The 1985 Live Aid concert brought music artists and fans together for a transatlantic charity concert of unprecedented scale. Monday's UK DVD release marks the first time it has been seen for 20 years, and some of the stars of the show remember the day below.

Status Quo
Status Quo

Patti LaBelle
Patti LaBelle

Alison Moyet
Alison Moyet
Phil Collins
Phil Collins

Paul Young
Paul Young

Midge Ure
Midge Ure


Veteran rockers Status Quo opened the event at London's Wembley Stadium with their hit Rockin' All Over The World in front of a global audience.

In these things, I always want to go on first - I gave up being worried about being on last when I was about 30.

Status Quo at Live Aid
We didn't raise as much money as we could have done
There was a lot of discussion about whether Rockin' All Over The World would open the show or end the show - in the end, we opened with it, or we would have had to sit around for 12 hours.

We were all very well-behaved that day. The camaraderie between artists was a great thing - there was a lack of ego stuff.

And we were playing to a crowd who were really part of it - they hadn't just paid out just to turn up, they were part of the event.

We didn't raise as much money as we could have done, though - big business, oil companies could all have advertised it for months before the event, but they didn't.

We were going around all day with these new mobile phones - they were huge great things you had to run off a car battery. But nobody ended up using them because you couldn't get any reception there.


Phil Collins appeared with Sting at Wembley before getting on Concorde and flying to the US to play with Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, where the US leg of the show took place.

It was a day of logistics - obviously there was music involved.

Sting and I did our set at Wembley - it was blisteringly hot, I remember that. It was a white stage and it was really, really hot.

Phil Collins and Sting at Wembley
It was so hot in London that my fingers slipped off the piano notes - I'll never forget it
Afterwards, I had to wait a couple of hours to get the helicopter to Heathrow and then walk to Concorde, and all the baggage handlers were outside waving goodbye. It was very sweet.

It wasn't until I got on the plane that I realised I was the only musician doing it - there were supposed to be other musicians.

When we landed at JFK, the customs were waived, immigration was waived, we just got off the plane and got on another helicopter.

I went on and did the same two songs I'd done in London, but played them a bit better, without the mistakes.

It was so hot in London that my fingers slipped off the piano notes. I'll never forget it. It seemed that everybody had a sharp intake of breath because it was really horrible.

I had just produced an album for Eric [Clapton] so I was well rehearsed with them, I knew all the material, so that was no problem.

The Zeppelin thing, on the other hand, was slightly different.

They had rehearsed for a week without me, but I knew the material. It wasn't the most pleasurable moment of my life.

I went on stage and the other drummer, Tony Thompson, didn't really seem too keen on having me there.

It was a bit shabby - Robert [Plant] and Jimmy [Page] didn't think it was much good because they didn't put it on the DVD.

At one point, I was getting a bit of the blame for it and I've already written to Robert and told him that's not the way it was.


Soul diva Patti LaBelle, who had hits with Lady Marmalade and On My Own, was introduced on the US Live Aid stage as "one of the most exciting black lady performers in America".

I got out of my helicopter and put on my drag, with high hair, high heels and a black-and-white polka dot dress.

There had been a few drops of rain so when I walked down onto the stage it was all wires and water.

I stepped into the water and the security guys had a stroke, they thought I was going to be electrocuted.

But I just took those raindrops and I felt like a queen. I remember I was singing Imagine by John Lennon, then more upbeat numbers Forever Young and Stir It Up.

At the end, I joined Tina Turner, Mick Jagger and everyone else on stage to sing a better version of We Are The World.

There is no doubt it was one of the best shows of my life. Just getting out there and trying to be a little part of history, for a great cause.

I would love to see it when it comes out on DVD, because I never had the chance to watch it on the day.


Paul Young was at the height of his fame, and had a US number one hit with Every Time You Go Away.

The thing that sticks out in my memory is Bob Geldof telling me that half-way through my set, the Americans are going to switch on to us, and so all of a sudden the amount of people watching it will be practically doubled.

That kind of put me off a little bit just before I went on. It was difficult to take in the magnitude of the whole thing, and when I realised it was almost like a worldwide broadcast, it was incredible.

Live Aid at Wembley Stadium
No-one had ever taken anything of that size on before
It was a very fast turnover backstage with the dressing rooms - I remember they were saying 'you've got 20 minutes after you come off, just to calm down and get changed, and then you've got to get out because Queen are coming in'.

And then Queen arrived and they were going 'no that's alright, you take your time'.

Everybody was really, really nice. You always hear things about egos, but I don't remember any egos. I heard there were a few on the other side of the water as regards the billing and who was going on when.

I was absolutely whacked, but the excitement of the occasion and the adrenalin rush, especially with an audience of that size, just gets rid of all that.

We had our own little problems with monitors [speakers for the artists to hear themselves]. They had got U2's monitors switched on and their roadie was soundchecking the drum kit and it was coming straight back at us while we were playing.

So he was completely out of time with us and we were all having to concentrate like hell on keeping tempo. We were doing Come Back To Stay and he was going 'crack crack crack' on the snare drum.

There were loads of little hiccups like that that probably wouldn't happen now, but no-one had ever taken anything of that size on before.


Alison Moyet, one of the most popular female solo singers of the 1980s, shared the Wembley stage with Paul Young.

It was a funny thing for me, Live Aid - someone told me there was a charity gig and did I want to do it?

I'm the kind of person that, if you catch me in a good mood, I'll say 'yes'. I just thought there would be maybe 2,000 people there - I thought why not help?

I went down to what I thought was Wembley Arena, then they put me in a helicopter and took me to Wembley Stadium - I was freaked by the lot.

Looking back, I wish I had not done that particular song [That's The Way Love Is].

It was two months after I had given birth to my first son and I was the size of a small office building.

I had been talked into peach for some reason, I don't know why. And I had done my own hair and forgot to actually do the back bit.

I just looked very, very rough and had no idea quite how massive it was going to be. I hadn't seen it as some kind of publicity event, it was just me doing a charity number.

So I will avoid looking at that DVD.


Midge Ure helped organise the event with Bob Geldof as well as performing with his band Ultravox.

The stand-out thing was I overheard someone talking to [promoter] Harvey Goldsmith about losing the connection to the shuttle.

I said 'shuttle?', thinking a shuttle bus, and he said 'no, no, The Shuttle - in space'. One of the astronauts was going to announce one of the bands. It doesn't get any bigger than that.

In his recent autobiography, Ure said he was "stabbed in the back" by Geldof's people because he felt he was tricked into agreeing to a change in the running order.

That's been totally blown out of proportion.

Ultravox were shifted round on the running order so Bob could perform for the royals because the royals had to get out by a certain time. And it wasn't told to me in that way.

Had it been, it would have been easy, not a problem. But I don't think Bob even knows about that - I sent him a copy of the book and said 'you'd better check out this chapter, just so you're informed.'


Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific