Live Aid 25 Years Later: Still Huge, Still Amazing

It’s incredible to think that so many years after Live Aid (the 25th anniversary is today) how many of the acts booked on that memorable, epic day still hold up. Of course, a handful of the acts who appeared on stadium stages in London and Philadelphia had already established themselves as legends. No amount of shoddily-put-together hits tours or releasing Bridges to Babylon was going to hurt the Rolling Stones, and if anything, the profiles of Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Neil Young and Paul McCartney have only increased in the quarter century since an estimated 1.5 billion people tuned in to Live Aid.


But even the acts on the undercard have managed to maintain their legendary status. Madonna, who was introduced as “an up-and-coming singer” who “pulled herself up from her bra straps” by Bette Midler, was still riding the success of Like a Virgin but hadn’t yet released True Blue (which really established her as an artist who would delivery consistently and not just a flash in the pan). Both Elvis Costello and Sade maintain their grip on the music world 25 years later, and then-newish acts like Bryan Adams and Judas Priest continue to crank out new music on a worldwide stage. In fact, there are only a handful of head-scratchers listed on the program, including the Hooters (who had a huge hit with “And We Danced” and “Day by Day” but are more of a footnote today), Simple Minds (who remain underrated but will probably always be known only for “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”), Power Station (they were theoretically a supergroup, but also featured Robert Palmer) and Billy Ocean (though the universe stands by “Caribbean Queen”).

But of course, the most remarkable moment about Live Aid was Phil Collins’ intercontinental day, which began in London with a performances of “I’m Still Standing,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Rocket Man,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and “Can I Get a Witness.” Following a flight aboard the Concorde, Collins landed in Philadelphia, shook off his jet lag and busted out “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” and “In the Air Tonight.” Just to be extra badass, he sat in on drums for Led Zeppelin during their first performance since the death of original drummer John Bonham.

What was your favorite moment from Live Aid? Let us know in the comments!

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