Live Aid: July 13th 1985


It’s twenty five years since Live Aid, yes it does make me feel old. It was a day that would change not only the music of the 80’s but the world, as we knew it, forever.

Christmas 1984 had been dominated by Band Aid‘s Do they know it’s Christmas, I can’t begrudge that even if it did keep Wham’s Last Christmas from Number 1 (George was on the Band Aid single anyway – that’s my 12 year old brain working).

So I was just finished National School, about to enter First Year in Secondary School and Live Aid was definitely going to be the biggest day of my Summer.  I had a little cassette recorder I had inherited from my mum and a few blank audio cassettes, very few had video recorders back then. I didn’t have the gadgetry and wizardry of now, so I tried a few spots to record from the TV. The radio we had was literally a radio, no cassette player so watching the TV while recording from it seemed like the best option.

status quo live aidI remember my mum wanted to go to Kells for shopping and me pleading with her not to go as I wanted to see the start of the whole thing. Patiently, I sat by the TV and I pressed play as Status Quo started playing ‘Rocking All Over the World’. I wasn’t a particular fan but thought it was important to record the first song.

The people I wanted to see were Wham!, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, the saviours of music and who would change my life forever.

I sat through The Style Council, meh, a few of my favourites popped up, The Boomtown Rats, led by Bob Geldof who organised the whole thing, they did an immense version of ‘I Don’t Like Monday’s) Adam Ant who played his new single Viva Le Rock (if I remember correctly he was the only one to do that).

I like Nik Kershaw‘s four song set, all the time recording on the tiny cassette recorder placed beside the TV. The biggest problem was trying to get everyone to shut up when I was recording, so I tried putting the cassette player on its side with the built in microphone bang up to the speaker of our TV.  Listening back you can hear my Mum saying something about dinner, just as Paul Young was coming onto the stage.

We brought the table from the kitchen into the living room so we wouldn’t miss a thing, me sitting waiting patiently for news of when Wham! would be on. George had been spotted in the crowd at Wembley Stadium, sitting beside Princess Diana.

There were acts on that I like one or two songs of, Sade, Spandau Ballet and in between these whether we watched on the BBC or on Ireland’s RTE, we were being told to give some money to ‘Feed The World‘. I remember wondering how much we had given, we weren’t rich and there definitely wasn’t a lot of spare cash floating around the house. It was the mid-eighties, lots of people without jobs but yet Ireland had donated (if I remember correctly) over £7 million. I couldn’t even imagine that amount when I was 12. Phil Collins jetted across the Atlantic from London to Philadelphia to play at both concerts. U2 came on, Bono owning the stage, Irish Flags flowing above the Wembley crowd. My mum asked, who are they? My reply, they’re Irish and they will be huge. The late Freddie Mercury and Queen with their now legendary set seemed to belong to a different level of rockdom.

Ever Saturday night had a ritual in our house. There was me, 12, the brothers, Barry and Dermot who would have been 10 and seven and a half and Aimèe who was about 18 months old. We used to watch stuff like the A-Team, or 3,2,1, the eighties Saturday night stuff before Mam always watched The Late Late Show (still on a Saturday night then). The lads always went for their bath and got in their pyjamas first, then I went for my bath. Only I didn’t really want to go for my bath. Wham! still hadn’t been on stage.

After very serious promises from my mother that she would call me if Wham! were on, I reluctantly went for my bath. It was about 8.45pm Yes, my Mum decided she had to see the news at 9. Yeah.. she switched channels…(you know where this is going). I’m all squeaky clean and head back to the living room where I see the news on, have a mini freak out and change the channel.. Where Elton John is finishing ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me’, with George Michael on Vocals and Andrew Ridgeley on guitars. OH MY GOD! I missed it!

After about an hour of disbelief that NO ONE in the house kept an eye on what was happening, I slowly calmed down. I had sat for 9 (nine) hours waiting just to see Wham! and I had missed them. At least during the Wembley finale I got to see George in his yellow standout shirt,  and Andrew in his Tartan jacket,  amongst pop and rockstars lined up to sing “Do They Know Its Christmas’. Yes It’s July..

The US part of the show brought us the Thompson Twins, Beach Boys, Duran Duran, all who still adorn the second cassette of day’s recordings. It was late into the night when Mick Jagger was on, Tina Turner and some guy my Mum said was big in the 60’s called Bob Dylan.

I was wrecked, and now the owner of a couple of cassettes of music from the day, which would get a lot of play over the next couple of years. They’re still in a box at the top of my wardrobe in my Mum’s house.

So why did George and Andrew change everything? Christmas 1985, I’m Your Man is released along with a re-released Last Christmas. Reading the back on the I’m Your Man 7″, there was a line ‘Engineered by Chris Porter’. I looked at the line over and over again and thought ‘I could do that’.

Who sang what