29 June 2010

Live Aid - 25 Years On

UPDATE 13/7/10: there are a heap of links, clips, photos and memories going up on the LIVE AID Facebook group wall, check out www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5881628521

A mighty lot of thanks to actor Stephen Fry and journalist/writer Neil McCormick of the UK Telegraph [who was actually at Wembley!] for helping to promote the Twitter/Band Aid single download campaign.

Stephen accepted our 'Tweet request' and sent out the campaign tweet to his Twitter followers - over 1.6 million people!

Despite Stephen and Neil's much-appreciated assistance with publicity, its true to say that the Twitter/download campaign did not 'catch fire' as much as we'd hoped in terms of becoming a trending topic. Whether something goes viral or not is unpredictable - but then, the Twitterverse trending topics are biased in that they reflect what is already out there in the mass media, so this little campaign did pretty well starting from one point, and being retweeted as often as it was.

Follow Stephen & Neil on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/stephenfry [@stephenfry]

www.twitter.com/neil_mccormick [@neil_mccormick]

And read Neil's reflections on Live Aid here:

'Live Aid worked because it was an urgent, emotive, simple, single-issue event aimed at achieving immediate, tangible results. It had an uncomplicated spirit of universal charity that corresponds with the ethos of popular music, and it was run with a haphazard, devil-may-care approach that tapped into rock’s favoured anti-establishment pose. Live Aid evoked a sense of manning the barricades, not preaching from a podium. Maybe (when you take away the sentimentality of nostalgic recollection) Live Aid really wasn’t such a great concert. But it didn’t need to be. It worked because it risked failure for a genuinely humanitarian cause, and people responded to that sense of risk.

I am proud to say I was there but in a sense everyone was there. It really was a pioneering moment, a revelation of the global village, presaging the connected world to come. Two billion people took part in Live Aid. It worked because we wanted it to.'

Live Aid's very innocence (contrast it with the rather contrived events that have grasped at emulating it since) is what makes it easy for today's cynics to attack yesterday's innocence - but it is also the reason so many people remember it with great nostalgia and affection as a seminal moment in music history.

Live Aid Twitter/Band Aid download campaigner Jenny Eden was also interviewed on BBC radio today, where the campaign was mentioned!

13 July 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the cultural touchstone that was Live Aid.

Christmas in July?!

One idea to commemorate this date is to run a Twitter campaign to push #liveaid into Twitter's trending topics, and drive downloads of the 1984 single 'Do They Know Its Christmas?', which benefits the Band Aid Trust.


Message to LIVE AID Facebook group from John Kennedy - Trustee, Band Aid Trust, 29 June 2010

“It is certainly amusing to think that 25 years on in the middle of July there should be people buying the Band Aid single and trying to make a Christmas hit a hit in July! However as Trustees we can promise that the proceeds of the downloads will be very well spent.

Even now we get regular requests for funding from very deserving activities and whilst we have spent an awful lot of money over the years there are always great causes for any additional monies raised. Good Luck in your efforts.”

And from BDO (Band Aid Trust accountants)'s Joe Cannon, Senior Tax Manager / Corporate International Tax Services, 5 July 2010:

'The Band Aid Trust was registered as a British Charity in January 1985.

By July 1985, over $6 million had been spent on buying and transporting food, shelter, medical supplies, water equipment and other essential items to famine victims in Ethiopia and Sudan.

The Live Aid concerts on 13th July 1985 raised over $80 million world-wide, which was spent on programmes designed to address some of the underlying causes of hunger in the famine.

In total, Band Aid has raised in excess of $180 million.

In recent years the Charity has supported projects designed to make a lasting difference to the lives of people in and around Ethiopia. This includes:

  • the construction of schools, hospitals, boreholes, wells, rain-water harvesting facilities and latrines
  • food security, hygiene, sanitation, livelihood diversification and income generating activities
  • training in-country for teachers, doctors and nurses
  • assistance for those living with HIV/AIDS
  • emergency interventions such as nutrition screening programmes
  • seed and animal distribution
  • procurement of emergency food aid to treat severely malnourished children and adults'


In July 2010, it will be the 25th anniversary of this landmark event, and hopefully there will be some reflection and remembering in the mainstream media.

Why should we care about Live Aid? Because remembering brings the spirit of the event into the present, and on building pressure for the change the world still needs - to ensure that a large part of humanity is not needlessly suffering.

What simple things can we do with social media to mark this milestone, to keep the issues it raised front of mind and help continue the work of Geldof and Ure's Band Aid Trust?


Participate in the Twitter campaign to commemorate Live Aid - send out the following Tweet each day (or as often as you can) up until 13 July:

Mark the 25th anniversary of Live Aid by downloading the 1984 Band Aid single #liveaid http://bit.ly/aBbDQ4
Ask for the tweet to be retweeted, and use the hashtag #liveaid

Can we get #liveaid to be a trending topic on Twitter, drive downloads and support the Band Aid Trust?


Download the original 1984 Band Aid single 'Do They Know Its Christmas?' sometime between 1 and 13 July.

All royalties go to the Band Aid Trust, which continues to support relief from hunger and poverty in Africa (specifically, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Niger, Sudan, Uganda). Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure remain trustees.

At the time of the 20th anniversary in 2004, it was noted that almost 100% of downloads would go to the trust, so this is the ideal way to contribute:

'...unlike CD singles, there is no manufacture and delivery process so almost every penny goes to charity...The Band Aid Trust has been going since the original single was released, handing out $144m (£75m) to famine relief projects across Africa between January 1985 and November 2004...'

Can we get 'Do They Know Its Christmas?' back into the charts 25 years on - in July?!

Look, its not so crazy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_in_July


Join LIVE AID on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5881628521

By building this group we contribute to keeping the memory of Live Aid alive - not only to remember the cracking good event that it was musically and the performers (some of whom are no longer with us), but in terms of the issues it was seeking to put onto the international agenda.

A swag of photos, clips and memories have been posted to the group, many from people who were at Wembley or JFK on the day, as audience members, crew, medics, media.

Can we double the number of members in the LIVE AID Facebook group?


There are a number of effective campaigns and groups you can get involved with who are working to end extreme poverty via programs of direct engagement, or advocacy and education (or both) - here are two:

Global Poverty Project

The Global Poverty Project is a community education group that aims to increase awareness and action in regards to extreme poverty. Supporting the eight Millennium Development Goals set out in 2000, the project aims to raise awareness of extreme poverty and facilitate global action. They describe the project as “catalysing the movement to end extreme poverty.”

One (incorporating DATA: Debt, Aid, Trade for Africa)

ONE is a campaign and advocacy organisation with more than 2 million members committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. We hold world leaders to account for the commitments they've made to fight extreme poverty, and we press for better development policies, more effective aid and trade reform.

Can you lend your voice, your skills, your time or your energy to these or similar organisations?


Tell someone who was too young to remember Live Aid what it was all about.

Reminisce with someone who does remember...

...and crank up the music of those who played on the day!

How will you remember?


Bob Geldof on the concert (reproduced in Live Aid DVD liner notes)

'Please remember this day all of your lives. It's important.

Remember the day you wanted to help.

Remember the bands and crews who did it. The professionals who made it an extraordinary technological feat.

Remember the dying who were allowed to live.

Remember the day *you* die, there is someone alive in Africa 'cos one day you watched a pop concert.

Remember your tears and your joy. Remember the love.

Remember that on that day for once in our bloody lives WE WON.

Remember the dying goes on, and remember so that as time passes you can tell others 'its possible, I know'.

What a day, what a lovely day.'

Bob Geldof, July 1985

Live Aid was twenty five years ago - 13 July 1985

And we still need to feed the world.


What was Live Aid?

Evolving from the 1984 charity single initiated by Sir Bob Geldof 'Do They Know Its Christmas?', Live Aid brought together the cream of the world's rock and pop musicians in a multi-venue concert.

Excerpt from Wikipedia

'The event was organised by Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats) and Midge Ure (Ultravox) in order to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia.

Billed as the 'global jukebox', the main sites for the event were Wembley Stadium, London (attended by 72,000 people) and JFK Stadium, Philadelphia (attended by about 90,000 people), with some acts performing at other venues such as Sydney and Moscow.

It was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time: an estimated 1.5 billion viewers, across 100 countries, watched the live broadcast....'

Live Aid is a cultural, musical and historical treasure trove of some of the greatest and most influential rock/pop musicians ever.

It is also arguably the single biggest charity and cultural change event in terms of both scale and impact. In an era before the internet and mobile phones, it was a major technical achievement of its time with an estimated 1.5 billion viewers, across 100 countries, watching the live broadcasts from Wembley and JFK Stadiums.

The original record and the ensuing concerts were a 'band aid' - the point of the event was to raise emergency relief money, but also to put the issue of extreme poverty on the political agenda.

Bearing in mind that these kinds of immense social changes can take decades, it is safe to say that Live Aid has been critical in sowing some important seeds of change.


  1. Two things:

    1. The link to Wikipedia doesn't work properly.
    2. Do you have a preferred location on where we can download it? Thought there might be one here, but I didn't see one.

  2. A quick search has revealed this link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_They_Know_It%27s_Christmas%3F (was last edited after this post was produced, perhaps the page name changed)

    You can use iTunes, but I did not want to specify that because of course there are a range of other download platforms - Nokia Music etc. Depends on what people already use to buy music online.

    If this is a bit tricky for those who are not comfortable with it, or have never done it, simply sharing the info or retweeting the Tweet would be most appreciated!


Please leave your comment here. Please note these stories are posted for information rather than for debate; if you wish to disagree with something posted, no problem, but since I post both things that I do and don't support, it would be appreciated if the criticism was about the issue.