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Live Aid In Photos: A Visual Essay

It was one of the most incredible concerts ever. These photos tell the story of the events, held in London and Philadelphia in 1985.

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View of the cheering crowd in the audience at Live Aid
Photo: Phil Dent/Redferns

Live Aid was one of the most incredible concerts ever, with some of the photos becoming iconic documents of the rock era. Held on July 13, 1985, the event took place in London at Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia at John F. Kennedy Stadium. The two concerts, organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, were held to raise awareness (and funds) to address a horrific famine in Ethiopia.

Following the two star-studded charity singles “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “We Are the World,” Live Aid had massive artists gracing the stage in both the UK and the US. It was Queen, however, that stole the show, with an indelible performance immortalized in the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody.

In these Live Aid photos, we present just a few of the highlights and behind-the-scenes shots from one of the biggest musical events of the 80s.

The UK Concert

The London concert kicked off the day’s festivities. The official count for attendees was 72,000.

Crowd at Live Aid

Photo: FG/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

One of the more underrated aspects of the event was the logistics of getting more than 75 high-profile acts on stage (and off) in a timely manner. Early plans to attempt a live intercontinental duet between Mick Jagger and David Bowie were eventually scrapped.

Band gear at Live Aid

Photo: Phil Dent/Redferns

Despite the logistical difficulties, star-studded collaborations happened at both concert sites. In London, the biggest planned moment was undoubtedly the appearance of Paul McCartney.

Paul McCartney, Bono, George Michael, Freddie Mercury and friend on stage at Live Aid

Photo: by Phil Dent/Redferns

But there was plenty more star power throughout the day…

George Michael and Elton John at Live Aid

George Michael and Elton John; Photo: FG/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

Sade at Live Aid

Sade; Photo: FG/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

And, of course, there was the iconic appearance by Queen, which has since gone down in history of one of the greatest rock live performances of all-time.

Freddie Mercury at Live Aid

Photo: Phil Dent/Redferns

The US Concert

The concert in Philadelphia started a few hours after the London edition. In fact, the time difference allowed Phil Collins to unbelievably play in both cities on the same day. (He flew over the Atlantic in the Concorde to make it happen.) The below photos from the US Live Aid concert are just a few of the groups that played.

The Four Tops at Live Aid

The Four Tops; Photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Led Zeppelin performing at Live Aid

Led Zeppelin; Photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Madonna at Live Aid

Madonna; Photo: Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In the end, more than 89,000 fans attended the concert in the US, with millions more watching both events around the world on television.

Crowd in Philadelphia at Live Aid

Photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

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