Thursday, September 22, 2011

Live Aid Part 2

I got some interesting comments about my first Live Aid post. "You went to Live Aid?!" I think they meant "I can't believe YOU did something so cool." Everyone said "I watched Live Aid on television!" The unspoken part of the comment was "Right before Mom put me down for my afternoon nap." Just kidding!!

As I mentioned, Joan Baez opened the show with Good morning children of the 80's. This is your Woodstock and it's long overdue. For the record, I am NOT a child of the 80's. I'm a child of the 60's. Or maybe late 60's early 70's.

I was too young to have been at Woodstock in 1969. And I didn't watch it on television because it wasn't ON television. I did, however, have the double album. And I could recite every announcement, every introduction and sing every word to every song. And I had to hide said album from my father who didn't approve of some of the lyrics.

Twenty-nine years old at Live Aid, I think I may have been older than the majority of the crowd. There were performers and bands there I didn't really know or care about but there were plenty I did.

I had a Cream poster in 1967. I am a huge Eric Clapton fan. EC was at Live Aid, one of the highlights of the day for me. I never saw Cream in concert but I've seen EC many times. Believe it or not I remember he did She's Waiting, Layla and White Room that day. Phil Collins played drums.

Then there was Ozzy. Another early favorite of mine when he was with Black Sabbath. I had their first album entitled Black Sabbath. I have a newspaper article with the schedule for Live Aid. Ozzy had the unfortunate timing of the 9:50 a.m. slot. Can you imagine? The Prince of Darkness at 10 a.m. Just doesn't seem right.

Then there was Madonna. Right after the big story broke that she had posed for Playboy and Penthouse. Her name was everywhere in the news, and her career took off after that. When she took the stage that day there was a lot of whistling and cheering from the crowd. Her first comment was "I ain't takin' shit off today."

A few months before their album Live at the Apollo was released Daryl Hall & John Oates (Hall & Oates)and David Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick of The Temptations-fame played at Live Aid. I'm a huge fan of Motown, and they put on an awesome show. They played late in the evening but they got the tired, sunburned crowd on our feet singing and dancing. Unfortunately David and Eddie died a few years later.

Then there was Mick Jagger and Tina Turner. During their duet of "It's Only Rock and Roll" Mick took off his shirt. In the video you can see he continues the chorus, and goes to the side of the stage. When he comes back to the stage he's in a new shirt and a different pair of pants. As they continue the song you can see Mick reach over, grab something and rip Tina's leather skirt off. She finishes the song in a leotard. Clearly an early wardrobe malfunction.

I looked over some of the yellowed newspaper articles I collected before and after Live Aid including some critics' reviews. Critical is right. They were tough. Nobody there cared. I was too far back from the stage to really see and watched on giant display screens, early Diamond Vision. The quality was terrible but nobody cared. We were there.

On the way in there were signs everywhere saying cameras were prohibited. I think the ticket said that, too. Bags were searched at the gates. In my backpack I had water, snacks, sunscreen, shorts, t-shirt and my Olympus OM10 35mm. They never said a thing.

The concert sold out. We paid $65 for tickets which said $35 on them. Which is a bargain now and not bad then for so much music. Back in the day I used to go to 2-3 concerts a month, and the price of a ticket was about $5. I went to so many concerts in my teens and 20's it's a wonder I can hear.

There were other Live Aid events in several countries in addition to London and Philadelphia and they were all linked by satellite. It was called a Global Jukebox and one article talked about the "technical wizardry." We saw cables between poles all over the stadium. You'd see remote-controlled cameras run back and forth across the cables filming the crowd. How far we've come.

That was the first time I saw the human wave. There were beach balls bouncing all over the stadium. The temperature got up into the 90's and they used fire hoses to try to cool the crowd down. I don't now how well it worked. Sunstroke and heat exhaustion were the medical issues of the day. There were very few reports of drug overdoses.

After the show news reports quoted security as saying "it was so calm it was scary" and "fewer problems than any sporting event." I remember back then, even at large concerts like Live Aid, people were well behaved. I never saw anyone arrested at shows in the 70's and 80's. Probably because they were all mellow from the pot. I did see lots of flasks, wine skins and bottles confiscated or poured out at the door but that was part of the fun, to see if you could get something in.

That day there were reports of up to 85 women waiting in line for the restroom. The one time I went I waited in line for 30 minutes and then went into the men's rooms. I don't know about now but back then it was pretty common to see women going into the men's room.

But, of course, the show was supposed to raise money to help end hunger in Africa. Supposedly a lot of money was raised. How much of it actually got where it was supposed to go, who knows. But I'm pretty sure most of the people there that day, myself included, were not thinking about anything other than the music and the experience.

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