What was Live Aid? West End musical to pay tribute to benefit concert

Live Aid at Wembley Stadium London 13 July 1985 (Alamy/PA) (PA)
Live Aid at Wembley Stadium London 13 July 1985 (Alamy/PA) (PA)

The Live Aid concert is to be turned into a stage musical, looking at everything that happened in the run-up and during the famous day.

One of the most famous concerts of all time will have its story told on the big stage live in the form of a musical production in London next year.

The original Live Aid event was organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.

The musical, called Just For One Day, will play at London’s Old Vic Theatre and will feature favourite songs played that day by acts including Queen, U2, Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney.

Bob Geldof told the BBC: “This isn’t a tribute thing. I wouldn’t have anything to do with that. So, there isn’t a person dressed up as Freddie wearing a crap moustache. The songs drive the drama along.

“The story is based on actual testimony from the day. It’s real people telling their story throughout this. So it’s complex theatre.”

The plot of Just For One Day, named after a line in David Bowie’s Heroes, will balance a behind-the-scenes look at how Band Aid and Live Aid came together, with a love story inspired by real events.

When was Live Aid?

The first famous concert, which saw a host of famous faces unite for the first time to a massive crowd, was held on July 13, 1985. It was organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money to help tackle the famine in Ethiopia.

The widespread famine hit Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985 and was the worst famine experienced by country in a century. It affected 7.75 million people and led to an estimated 1.2 million deaths. Almost 200,000 children were orphaned.

The fundraising charge for the concert was the secondary fundraising push. Money first started to be raised by the musical legends with the release of the charity single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ in December 1984.

Where did it take place?

The concert was first held at Wembley Stadium in front of a packed stadium of around 72,000. Live Aid was then taken over the Atlantic to the States and performed a second time at the John F Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, which was attended by 89,484 people.

What was the aim of Live Aid?

The concert was organised to bring the biggest and best of the performers back then on the stage together for the first time ever in what was billed as the “worldwide jukebox” show.

Organisers wanted artists, with millions of fans worldwide, to stand in solidarity with the Ethiopian cause to raise awareness of what was going on, alongside much-needed funds to try and tackle the humanitarian crisis.

What was the outcome of Live Aid?

The 16-hour “superconcert” was watched by more than a billion viewers in 110 nations after it was streamed live and opened by Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The event was believed to have changed the way celebrities raised funds forever.

Live Aid eventually raised $127 million - around £105 million - in famine relief for African nations, and the publicity it generated encouraged Western nations to make available enough surplus grain to end the immediate hunger crisis in Africa. Bob Geldof was later knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his efforts.

Who was involved in Live Aid?

The event was organised in just 10 weeks, but there was no shortage of superstar names on the bill.

The lineup featured more than 75 acts, including Elton John, Queen, Madonna, Santana, Run DMC, Sade, Sting, Bryan Adams, the Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Duran Duran, U2, the Who, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Eric Clapton.

One of the most famous performances from the Wembley Concert was the performance of Queen - with frontman Freddie Mercury stealing the show. The iconic band wowed the crowd with an unforgettable 20-minute performance. Going from “Bohemian Rhapsody” to “We Will Rock You” and finishing with “We Are the Champions”.