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Live Aid Turns 30: The Backstage Scoop From The People Who Were There

WHO didn't recognize Madonna?

Almost every TV on the planet tuned in to watch the 16-hour Live Aid broadcasts on July 13, 1985, from London and Philadelphia. The world had never seen anything like the lineup of talent that day and viewers responded to the passion on stage by donating more than $200 million for African famine relief.

On the anniversary of the concert that brought together Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Queen, Run-DMC, Duran Duran, Sting, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and U2 -- among dozens of others -- we're looking back at this historical, massive superstar charity blowout by talking to two people who were there and saw it all unfold, on and off the stage.

MTV News tracked down one of the promoters of the American portion, Another Planet's Gregg Perloff (who basically ran the show along with late, great promoting legend Bill Graham), and original MTV VJ and current SiriusXM radio host Martha Quinn, and asked them to take us back to that magical day three decades ago -- and through some of the biggest, most mind-blowing moments they witnessed.

  1. Madonna Should Have Written 'Bitch I'm Madonna' 30 Years Ago Because These Dudes Had No Idea Who She Was

    Perloff: "The backstage scene was so crazy. Madonna played and was walking back to her dressing room with all these security guards around her and they got to the front of it and there was Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Jagger and [Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood] standing there. Her security guards were like, 'You need to get out of the way.' And those guys gave them a look like, 'Are you kidding me?' All of a sudden they realized who they were and backed off and walked around them."

    It was just one of those classic moments in rock 'n' roll history where established guys, the royalty of rock, met someone who was not one of them and none of them thought to move an inch."

  2. Paul Schaffer RUINED The Show -- Just Kidding!

    Quinn: "I remember being on stage and watching the Who from Wembley and during this historic set the satellite feed dropped out. I'm like, 'Oh my God, what a nightmare!' It was the worst thing that could happen. Cut to me and [fellow VJ] Mark Goodman trying to fill time and suddenly [former David Letterman band leader] Paul Schaffer, who was standing on the side of the stage, runs out and says, 'Oh my God, I'm so sorry, I kicked out the plug!' Nobody asked him to come on the MTV broadcast to do that, but everyone was there to help out."

  3. The Prince Of Darkness Was Forced To See The Light

    Perloff: "We had this turntable stage and a situation where Ozzy Osbourne was begging to get on the show. But the only slot was at 10 in the morning. Imagine Ozzy Osbourne at 10 in the morning. That's a scary sight."

  4. Phil Collins Was Basically Hermione Granger With A Time-Turner Up In There

    Perloff: "I remember [Genesis drummer] Phil Collins wanting to play both shows. And I remember being backstage and sitting there thinking about the idea that he could hop on the Concorde [jet] and play both was insane." (Collins performed with Sting in London and then performed with Eric Clapton and the surviving members of Led Zeppelin in Philly.)

  5. The Biggest Moment In Rock Has Already Happened -- Sorry 5SOS And Co.

    Quinn: "The MVPs in hindsight... if you have to go back and watch one performance it has to be Queen. That was not just a career-defining moment... rock 'n' roll might have peaked right there. Freddie Mercury on stage at Live Aid is the summit of rock 'n' roll. For a band some people said was washed up, that was just the most stunning, breathtaking, flawless, powerful, jubilant performance. It was everything you want in rock 'n' roll."

    The set was voted the greatest rock gig of all time in 2005 in a BBC poll of experts, a superlative Quinn was totally down with, dubbing it the "summit of rock and roll."

  6. Live Aid Blew Everyone Away
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    OK, this one's not really a secret, but it NEEDS to be said -- and we're going to let these guys say it again:

    Quinn: "Something will come about of its own energy that will have its own goodness and sense of wonderment, but it can’t be in the Live Aid format -- because once you do it, there can never be that same sense of wonderment as the first time. Everyone was in such awe of what was happening: all these satellites, the worldwide transmissions from Australia, Yugoslavia and all these musicians. It was the most amazing thing anyone had ever seen. I honestly think it was the culmination of rock 'n' roll as a musical and social expression."

    Perloff: "You had the greatest artists of the day trying to raise money for a cause. It was really about the music, and the message, standing on its own."