Live Aid – Queen in “better band than Status Quo” shock

Live Aid logo
End the suffering – get Simon Le Bon off the stage…

Live Aid was the most exciting televised concert there ever was.

The thing I was most excited about before Live Aid began was, of all things, watching my favourite band (Status Quo) open the show on prime time TV. In addition to having playground conversations with friends about Status Quo’s superiority to Paul Young, I wanted to record the moment for posterity. Unfortunately not being millionaires we didn’t have a VHS video recorder. Furthermore despite all the talk about a joint broadcast with BBC and Radio 1, the stereo broadcast did not begin until later in the day – perhaps because Dave Lee Travis’ show couldn’t be interrupted or something important like that.

As a result, I found myself desperately looking round the back of the TV to see if I could get a lead from the TV to the tape recorder (no) and eventually found a microphone (why did my parents have a microphone?) that I could hold against the TV to record the three songs Quo played (Rockin’ All Over The World, Caroline and Don’t Waste My Time). I probably never listened to the resulting tape – it sounded hissy and terrible and had me telling my parents to Shhhhh! on it  – but I had it, just in case the BBC wiped over the tapes and it was the last remaining copy (it wasn’t).

There were many memorable Live Aid moments: the time that scruffy haired pop star swore on live TV (Madonna), the moment when everyone was moved to tears by something unspeakably terrible (no, not The Cars’ “Drive” video – but when Simon Le Bon missed that note on “View To A Kill”).

I didn’t see Judas Priest, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin so this was before I had my Heavy Rock epiphany. It is difficult to believe Zeppelin agreed to play with Phil Collins on drums. Good grief! Collins even flew on Concorde from London piloted by Noel Edmonds (well – on the helicopter bit…). Perhaps he couldn’t believe his luck and wanted to get there before they changed their minds…

Instead of these legendary bands I saw Adam Ant make the fundamental error #1 of saying “Here’s a new song” (See Scissor Sisters at Live 8) and Mel Smith making the error #2 of trying to be funny (see Ricky Gervais at Live 8) in front of a stadium of 72,000 people when introducing Queen (“We’ve had a bit of a complaint about the noise….from a woman in Belgium”).

Bowie graciously decided against reciting the Lord’s Prayer before his set (an easy error to make – see his later performance on the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert) and as everyone knows Queen stole the show, and in the meantime entered my consciousness for the first time. Queen was the only act that anyone talked about at school on Monday. Except perhaps Madonna…we were teenage boys after all…

I was watching with my parents when Queen came onstage. They were laughing at Freddie’s teeth. I couldn’t believe how good the band was. I didn’t know Bohemian Rhapsody too well, but I knew Radio Ga-Ga, Hammer to Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and We Will Rock You / We are The Champions. Was there ever a better twenty minute collection of songs? Didn’t Wembley look great mimicking the video to Radio Ga-Ga?

It certainly beat “Is this The World We Created” which Brian May stunk the place up with shortly before the end.

Queen released “One Vision” in November that year. Some said it was a tribute to Live Aid. Top of The Pops featured the song, and Wham!’s “I’m Your Man” on the same show. This was a “Eureka! moment” for me and some of my school friends when we talked about it the next day. Wham! left us cold, but Queen were unbelievable.

It was a great tune and the first 12” single I bought – in red vinyl. Unfortunately it was warped and Our Price didn’t have any more so I swapped it for a regular black vinyl version. I saw the red vinyl in a record fair for £20 last week. The black vinyl version can be had on ebay for £1… Damn.

Record #10: Queen: One Vision


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