Musical relief

Updated: Jul 13, 2020, 10:28 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

On the day that the iconic Live Aid concert in 1985 brought long-term political change, city musicians talk about the impact it had on them

Freddie Mercury burns the stage at Wembley Stadium with his performance at Live Aid, 1985. Pic/Getty Images
Freddie Mercury burns the stage at Wembley Stadium with his performance at Live Aid, 1985. Pic/Getty Images

It all seems so different back then, when the Live Aid concert on this day in 1985 changed music history. Freddie Mercury had 76,000 fans eating out his hands in London’s packed Wembley Stadium. Across the pond, fellow British legend Mick Jagger was putting on a show at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Others including Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin also popped in for performances across both venues, with 1.9 billion people — that’s 40 per cent of the global population at the time — reportedly tuning in on satellite TV to watch them play for free. Why free? Because the whole epic event was brought together by musicians Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for and awareness about the existing Ethiopian famine.

It set the tone for future music activists like Bono from U2, and 35 years after it took place, two veteran Mumbai artistes reminisce on what the event meant for them.

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Heroes in action

Randolph Correia

I got to know of the concert through word of mouth because there wasn’t any social media or anything like it back then. It was also the first time that I realised that people can put together a concert for a cause. That sense of awareness I got was, for me, more important than the fantabulous line-up it had. Because music is not just for rising up the charts. If you can become a big artiste, the goal is to help the world out and thus create a balance. Live Aid was the first event that helped me come to this realisation.

In terms of the music, I remember Phil Collins banging it out with Led Zeppelin. But David Bowie performing Heroes summed up the whole concert because the musicians were all doing it for humanity, so for me, they were heroes.

Randolph Correia of Pentagram

Queen hit the hardest

Uday Benegal

I only saw bits and bobs of the concert, to be honest, because I didn’t want to see it all. It was a phenomenal event and I don’t know how much the organisers achieved what they had set out to do, but I sure hope they get there, because it’s an on-going process. I have seen so much music since then that I don’t remember all the details. I remember the Woodstock recordings better. The Queen performance [at Live Aid] hit the hardest. But again, they weren’t one of my favourite bands. I mean, I have loved some of their stuff, but I don’t care about all their songs.

Uday Benegal of Indus Creed

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