Rock Worldwide Day / Every July 13th
On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially open Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans. Live Aid was the first internationally minded charity concert.
Live Aid was the brainchild of Bob Geldof, the singer of an Irish rock group called the Boomtown Rats. In 1984, Geldof traveled to Ethiopia after hearing news reports of a horrific famine that had killed hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians and threatened to kill millions more. After returning to London, he called Britain’s and Ireland’s top pop artists together to record a single to benefit Ethiopian famine relief. ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ was written by Geldof and Ultravox singer Midge Ure and performed by ‘Band Aid,’ an ensemble that featured Culture Club, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, U2, Wham!, and others. It was the best-selling single in Britain to that date and raised more than $10 million.
The Live Aid Concert was a series of rock concerts. Billed as the ‘global jukebox’, the event was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London, England, United Kingdom (attended by 72,000 people) and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States (attended by about 100,000 people). On the same day, concerts inspired by the initiative happened in other countries, such as Australia and Germany. It was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time: an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations, watched the live broadcast.
Throughout the concerts, viewers were urged to donate money to the Live Aid cause. Three hundred phone lines were manned by the BBC, so that members of the public could make donations using their credit cards. The phone number and an address that viewers could send cheques to were repeated every twenty minutes.
The next day, news reports stated that between L40 and L50 million had been raised. Now, it is estimated that around L150m has been raised for famine relief as a direct result of the concerts.
Although a professed admirer of Geldof’s generosity and concern, Fox News Channel television host Bill O’Reilly has been critical of the Live Aid producer’s oversight of the money raised for starving Ethiopian people, claiming (in June 2005) that much of the funds were siphoned off by Mengistu Haile Mariam and his army (which included the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front). This coalition battled, at the time against Derg. O’Reilly believes that charity organizations, operating in aid-receiving countries, should control donations, rather than possibly corrupt governments.