Bring back some good or bad memories


February 4, 2023

30 Amazing Photographs of Freddie Mercury at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in London, 1985

The old Wembley Stadium was the setting, on July 13, 1985, for one of the greatest live concerts ever staged: Live Aid. Sting, U2, Dire Straits, The Who, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Elton John, and George Michael were among the acts performing in London that day (Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Madonna and Tom Petty were at the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia for the American counterpart). But of all the high-caliber artists on display that day, there was unanimous agreement that Queen’s Live Aid performance stole the whole show with a magnificent, 21-minute tour-de-force set.

After finally accepting The Boomtown Rats’ Bob Geldof and Midge Ure’s invitation to play the benefit concert for Ethiopian famine relief, Queen – who comprised Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano, and guitar), Brian May (guitar and vocals), John Deacon (bass guitar), and Roger Taylor (drums and vocals) – were consummate professionals and decided to rehearse their set thoroughly to get timings and solos down to perfection for what would be a truncated performance.

They booked out the 400-seat Shaw Theatre, near King’s Cross train station in London, and spent a week honing their five-song setlist, getting it ready for the 72,000 fans who would be at Wembley – and the estimated 1.9 billion people watching on television from 130 countries around the world.

Though the band did not like performing in daylight – and knew they would have no soundcheck to get the quality levels they wanted – they knew the concert gave them a chance to show the world what a great live band they were. “It was our opportunity to show that it’s the music first and foremost,” said May.

Geldof had advised all the participants not to promote new hits but to do their old favorites. Queen took the message to heart. When it came to choosing time slots, they were shrewd, opting to go on at 6.41pm, which was close to prime time in the UK and also after the satellite feed from London of the live broadcast had gone global.

Brian May: “Freddie was very good at involving everybody right to the back of the stadium. Now, we had an unfair advantage at Live Aid because we had already done stadiums in South America, so we understood the dynamic, so we were able to reach out and connect, but especially Freddie. Freddie had that skill which he had honed, and I think he is a channel. He’s a channel for the big show, but he’s also a channel for the emotional content of what is actually in the songs.

It’s about dreams and disappointments and love and wanting to break free. “I want to break free, I want it all.” These kinds of things we all feel, not just rock stars but everybody feels this stuff. I think if there’s a secret to Queen, that’s it, being about people and not being about rock stars. That’s what it is.”

Elton John after their performance had ended: “You bastards! You stole the show!”


Post a Comment



Browse by Decades

Popular Posts


09 10