10 sites of (historic) musical significance in London – 10. Wembley Stadium, host of Live Aid…

Wembley Stadium in London’s north-west has hosted numerous musical acts since the early 1970s but the most famous event was undoubtedly the British Live Aid concert in 1985.

Ultrasound perform at Live Aid at Wembley. PICTURE: cormac70 (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Organised by Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof and Ultravox vocialist Midge Ure (although it was apparently Boy George who first came up with the idea of a concert), the event featured an all-star line-up of the notable artists of the day.

Held to raise funds to support relief efforts aimed at those impacted by the devastating Ethiopian famine of 1983 to 1985, it followed the release of Band Aid’s single Do They Know It’s Christmas? the previous December (that song closed the British concert while We Are The World closed the US one).

About 72,000 people attended the event held on 13th July which featured artists including Paul McCartney, David Bowie, The Who (who reunited for the event), Queen and U2 (the latter two bands in show-stealing performances) and was held simultaneously with an event at at John F Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia (attended by more than 89,000 people.

There were also concerts held in a range of other nations in Australia in support of the cause on the same day which were woven into the TV broadcast of the event. This was seen by an estimated 1.5 billion viewers worldwide.

The British event kicked off at noon and ran until 10pm that night while the US concert ended just after 4am, giving a total of 16 hours of concert time. Phil Collins famously performed at both events, taking a British Airways Concorde to the US after performing at Wembley and performing there.

Among the crowds watching were Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

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