Monday, September 12, 2011

We Were the World

It's 11 p.m. Friday, July 12, 1985. After working second shift my significant other of the time came to my house, and we climbed into my lime green Pinto and headed south.

We drove through the night and arrived at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium just before 7 a.m. The gates opened soon after when we filed in to show our $35 tickets that we paid $65 for. It's general admission but the crowd is amazingly orderly. No pushing, no shoving just a lot of very excited music lovers.

At nine o'clock Joan Baez came onto the stage and said Good morning children of the 80's. This is your Woodstock and it's long overdue. The place went nuts.

That's how The Live Aid concert for African famine relief began in Philadelphia on July 13, 1985. There was another concert going on at the same time in Wembley Stadium in London, England and both venues were telecast worldwide.

I remember hearing that there was only one arrest at JFK in a crowd of more than 100,000. Now parents brawl at their kids' little league games.

Once inside we had to decide what side of the stadium would be best. Forget the field. There's no seating and will be shoulder to shoulder all day. There would also never be any shade.

I'm a redhead which means the sun and I are not friends. It can burn me like toast. I needed shade for at least part of the day. I was prepared with water in a plastic Tupperware jug (no little bottles of water back then), sunscreen, light clothes, food and my white fedora. I was very cool in my fedora which I still have.

There was a point about mid-afternoon when the sun began to get to me, and I was getting dizzy. I remember he said We can leave. To which I replied No way, I'll go inside, throw up and come back before we'll leave. It didn't quite come to that.

The one time I did go to the bathroom it took me 30 minutes, and I missed a whole act. I vowed not to need to do that again. Stopped drinking water, stopped bathroom breaks.

Can you see me there in the section on the right about half-way up? Maybe not.

The 16-hour, all-day and much-of-the-night concert featured some of the biggest names in rock music, including Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Madonna, Bob Dylan, and Paul McCartney some in Philly, some in London. Phil Collins actually played both sides of the Atlantic. He played in London then got on the Concorde and came to play for us.

Between the two stadiums there were nearly 175,000 people and another 1.5 billion viewed it on TV. The event, organized by Bob Geldorf of The Boomtown Rats raised over $100 million. The phone lines worldwide were repeatedly jammed by people calling to donate during the concert.

The show lasted in Philly until 11:30 p.m. when more than 100,000 people walked, stumbled and dragged themselves, once again in very orderly fashion, out to the parking lot and into a two-hour traffic jam. We drove north a couple hours and found a hotel off the highway where after more than 40 hours without sleep we collapsed and slept for 12 hours. Those were the days.

Here's part of the line up in Philadelphia:

Duran Duran, The Hooters, Bob Dylan, Four Tops, Patti Labelle, Hall & Oates, Billy Ocean, Ozzy Osbourne, Run DMC, Rick Springfield, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Judas Priest, Bryan Adams, The Beach Boys, George Thoroughgood & The Destroyers, Bo Didley, Simple Minds, The Pretenders, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Madonna, Neil Young, Tom Petty, The Cars, Kenny Loggins, and too many others to name. Some are gone (some really gone) and some are still rocking.

In anticipation of the event I started collecting magazines and then newspaper clipping afterwards. Everything I could find I put into an album along with photos I took that day.

Here's some my memorabilia including my ticket, concert program, fan, and the magazines and newspaper articles.

And now I've decided it needs to go. I'm putting it up for auction on eBay. Let's hope someone else is as notalgic for those days as I am.

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