Live Aid 30 years on: the day music changed the world

The huge crowd at Wembley Stadium, London for the Live Aid concert
The huge crowd at Wembley Stadium, London for the Live Aid concert
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As Live Aid marks its 30th anniversary, marketing manager Kate Bowyer talks of her love affair with the ground-breaking gig and her collection of memorabilia.

For music lovers everywhere the Live Aid concert was the day music changed the world.



The original dream of Bob Geldof and Midge Ure was to raise money for the starving millions in Ethiopia by producing a record, and the single Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Six months later, the idea of a summer concert to raise more money, staged between two venues, was something the likes of which the world had never seen.

Of course there have been concerts since, and fantastic charity events that have raised millions of pounds, but this was the first one like this.

It was the most ambitious international satellite television venture that had ever been attempted and the first time I can remember pledging money whilst watching a show.

Bob Geldof on stage at Live Aid

Bob Geldof on stage at Live Aid

We were watching TV, music and political history.

Billed as the “global jukebox”, the event was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London and the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia with 172,000 spectators inside the venues. It was watched on TV by 1.5bn people and raised £50m on the day. (The final figure was £150m after merchandise etc had been taken into account).

For me, the thought of a 16 hour concert was almost too much excitement to bear.

It was a gloriously hot day and I was 14-years-old. Live Aid was to be broadcast to a waiting world and everyone I knew was going to sit and watch television for a whole day. As Status Quo opened the show and the first few bars of “Rocking all over the World” spilled out into our living room, I knew I was witnessing something special.

It was the day when pop took on politics and won. Some say it was the day that music changed the world.

We had a VHS recorder the size of a small family car and I taped as much as I could. Of course we missed bits – tea was still served at the table regardless of whatever epic event was happening in the world!

I fell in love with Bono from U2 that day. I’d not seen bands like U2 or Queen before, as being a girly teenager I loved Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, but seeing Bono dancing with the random girl he pulled from the audience made an impressionable 14-year-old happy. As for Freddie Mercury, I’d never heard a voice like it and I swore one day I would see him live. I never did get to see Freddie Mercury live, but seeing Queen recently at the Hammersmith Odeon with new frontman Adam Lambert was a good second.

I did, however, meet Tony Hadley and asked him about that gorgeous leather coat he worn for Live Aid on the hottest day of the year. “A bad choice”, he told me. “I loved that coat but it was so hot!”

Still with silly notions of fame in my head, I took my microphone stand from my bedroom and put it in front of the television in the lounge. Day after day, I practised Madonna’s dance routine from her Live Aid set. I bought some lace gloves and floral leggings and many, many strings of plastic beads (well, it was the 80s) and practised and practised. I loved her and still think her 17-minute set from Live Aid is the best thing she’s done.

I didn’t quite get to Wembley! I sang in bands in my 20s and now sing in a choir doing choral works and show tunes, rather than rock music and that suits these old bones!

I’ve collected Live Aid memorabilia over the years and have almost all of it now on VHS video and DVD, thanks to my brother who painstakingly edited it all for me and copied it onto DVD.

I have magazines, books and posters. In 2004 10 hours of footage was released to buy on a pre­-recorded DVD and it was lovely to watch it again in higher definition with stereo sound.

So what are your magic moments?