Relive 16 Hours of Historic Live Aid Performances with These Big YouTube Playlists: Queen, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young & Much More

12 pm - 2 pm | Wembley Stadium, London

As Live Aid geared up for its momentous series of concerts of both sides of the Atlantic, famous concert promoter Bill Graham compared it to Woodstock: “What we’re doing now is entirely different. The reason for the event is more important than the event itself.”

Three decades later, the memory of the event has eclipsed its reason (and one Queen performance has eclipsed most of the concert). It was a gathering of the best of mainstream ‘80s rock--still trying to justify itself alongside acts from the 60s and the ‘70s--and the zenith of the fundraising telethon: broadcast live in 140 countries to raise $50 million for victims of a relentless African famine. (Fun fact: the concerts raised about $560 million in 2019 money, about two days’ worth of Jeff Bezos’ current earnings!)

If you have a day to spare, you can recreate that amazing July 13th in 1985 with this series of YouTube playlists.

The day started at London's Wembley Stadium (up top), with the Regimental Band of the Coldstream Guards performing the Royal Salute for Queen and Country and all that, and then things really started with Status Quo, those grizzled ol’ blokes playing “Rockin’ All Over the World.” Yanks might have said “who?” but it was the Brits who either bopped along or said, “Not this bloody Dad rock!” (Okay, not true, the phrase hadn’t been invented, but something similar was uttered.)

2 pm - 4 pm | Wembley Stadium, London

The British side was indeed a mixed bag, reflecting the idiosyncrasies of its own singles chart compared to the more steadfast American charts. Elvis Costello sang “All You Need Is Love”; the Style Council sang their hits; Nik Kershaw played his chart-topper. Phil Collins performed “Against All Odds,” then jumped on a Concorde for New York, arriving to sing it again for a different audience.

4 pm - 6 pm | Wembley Stadium, London

There’s so much more to explore in these playlists: the Led Zeppelin reunion, The Cars at the height of their powers (RIP Ric Ocasek), Neil Young (and his reunion with Crosby, Stills, and Nash), Bob Dylan, The Four Tops, Run D.M.C., the list really goes on and on.

6 pm - 8 pm | Wembley Stadium, London

8 pm - 10 pm | Wembley Stadium, London

2 pm - 5 pm | John F. Kennedy Stadium, Philadelphia

5 pm - 8 pm | John F. Kennedy Stadium, Philadelphia

8 pm - 11 pm | John F. Kennedy Stadium, Philadelphia

Live Aid | 11 pm- 2 am | John F. Kennedy Stadium, Philadelphia

Live Aid | 2 am - 4 am | John F. Kennedy Stadium, Philadelphia

Find a complete list of Live Aid performances here.

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Watch Queen’s Stunning Live Aid Performance: 20 Minutes Guaranteed to Give You Goose Bumps (July 13, 1985)

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A Stunning Live Concert Film of Queen Performing in Montreal, Digitally Restored to Perfection (1981)

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at and/or watch his films here.

Musicians Around the World Play The Band’s Classic Song, “The Weight,” with Help from Robbie Robertson and Ringo Starr

Playing For Change, a "movement created to inspire and connect the world through music," has released its latest video--this one featuring musicians from five continents playing "The Weight," a classic song from The Band's 1968 album, Music from Big Pink. Amongst the musicians you'll find The Band's own Robbie Robertson and The Beatle's Ringo Starr. In our archive, find other Playing for Change takes on The Grateful Dead's "Ripple," The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter," Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," and Ben King's "Stand by Me." For more, visit Playing for Change's YouTube channel.

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The Creepy 13th-Century Melody That Shows Up in Movies Again & Again: An Introduction to “Dies Irae”

The number of iconic scenes in cinema history can and do fill textbooks hundreds of pages long. Doubtless most of us have seen enough of these scenes to know the basic grammar of feature film, and to recognize the hundreds of references in movies and TV to classic cuts and compositions from Hitchcock, Kubrick, or Kurosawa.

Visual and narrative allusions might leap out at us, but music tends to work in subtler ways, prompting emotional responses without engaging the parts of our brain that make comparisons. Case in point, the videos here from Vox and Berklee College of Music professor Alex Ludwig demonstrate the widespread use of a musical motif of four notes from the “Dies Irae,” or “day of wrath,” a 13th century Gregorian requiem, or Catholic mass traditionally sung at funerals.

Of course, we know these notes from the iconic, oft-parodied Amadeus scene of Mozart composing the “Dies Irae” movement of his Requiem in his sickbed, as ultimate frenemy Salieri furiously transcribes. Once you hear the magisterially ominous sequence of notes, you might immediately think of Wendy Carlos’ themes for The Shining and A Clockwork Orange. But did you notice these four notes in Disney’s The Lion King, Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope, or It’s a Wonderful Life?

What about Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, or Home Alone? Both Vox and Ludwig show how the “dies irae” theme appears over and over, cueing us to peril or tragedy ahead, orienting us to the terror and unease we see onscreen. For almost 800 years, these four notes have signified all of the above for Catholic Europe, as well as, Vox notes, soundtracking the supposed future day when “God will judge the living and the dead and send them to heaven or hell.”

The “dies irae” has permeated narrative cinema for almost as long as film has existed. The oldest example in Ludwig’s compilation comes from a 1927 score written by Gottfried Huppertz for Fritz Lang’s silent Metropolis. Ludwig also brings his musicological expertise to bear in Vox’s exploration of “dies irae” references. He sums up the net effect as creating a “sense of dread,” bestowed upon modernity by hundreds of years of Christian theology as expressed in music.

Film composers were only the latest to pick up the cultural thread of fear and threat in "Dies Irae." Their work stands on the shoulders of Mozart and later composers like Hector Berlioz, who lifted the melody in his 1830 Symphonie fantastique to tell a story of obsessive love and murder, and a nightmare of a witch’s sabbath. Later came Franz Liszt’s 1849 Totentanz (Dance of the Dead) and Giuseppe Verdi’s 1874 Messa da Requiem, a very recognizable piece of music that has made its appearance in no small number of movies, TV shows, commercials, and temp scores.

Vox and Ludwig show the “dies irae” phenomenon in film to be a slow cultural evolution from the ornate, sacred pomp of medieval Catholic rites to the ornate, secular pomp of Hollywood film production, by way of classical composers who seized on the theme’s “sense of dread” but remained at least ambivalent about happy endings on the day of wrath.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Jimi Hendrix Wreaks Havoc on the Lulu Show, Gets Banned From the BBC (1969)

Can you imagine Jimi Hendrix singing a duet with Lulu? Well, neither could Hendrix. So when the iconoclastic guitar player showed up with his band at the BBC studios in London on January 4, 1969 to appear on Happening for Lulu, he was horrified to learn that the show's producer wanted him to sing with the winsome star of To Sir, With Love. The plan called for The Jimi Hendrix Experience to open their set with "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and then play their early hit "Hey Joe," with Lulu joining Hendrix onstage at the end to sing the final bars with him before segueing into her regular show-closing number. "We cringed," writes bassist Noel Redding in his memoir, Are You Experienced? The Inside Story of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Redding describes the scene that he, Hendrix, and drummer Mitch Mitchell walked into that day as being "so straight it was only natural that we would try to combat that atmosphere by having a smoke in our dressing room." He continues:

In our haste, the lump of hash got away and slipped down the sink drainpipe. Panic! We just couldn't do this show straight--Lulu didn't approve of smoking! She was then married to Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, whom I'd visited and shared a smoke with. I could always tell Lulu was due home when Maurice started throwing open all the windows. Anyway, I found a maintenance man and begged tools from him with the story of a lost ring. He was too helpful, offering to dismantle the drain for us. It took ages to dissuade him, but we succeeded in our task and had a great smoke.

When it was time for The Jimi Hendrix Experience to go on camera, they were feeling fairly loose. They tore through "Voodoo Child" and then the program cut to Lulu, who was squeezed awkwardly into a chair next to an audience member in the front row. "That was really hot," she said. "Yeah. Well ladies and gentlemen, in case you didn't know, Jimi and the boys won in a big American magazine called Billboard the group of the year." As Lulu spoke a loud shriek of feedback threw her off balance. Was it an accident? Hendrix, of course, was a pioneer in the intentional use of feedback. A bit flustered, she continued: "And they're gonna sing for you now the song that absolutely made them in this country, and I'd love to hear them sing it: 'Hey Joe.'"

The band launched into the song, but midway through--before Lulu had a chance to join them onstage--Hendrix signaled to the others to quit playing. "We'd like to stop playing this rubbish," he said, "and dedicate a song to the Cream, regardless of what kind of group they may be in. We dedicate this to Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce." With that the band veered off into an instrumental version of "Sunshine of Your Love" by the recently disbanded Cream. Noel Redding continues the story:

This was fun for us, but producer Stanley Dorfman didn't take it at all well as the minutes ticked by on his live show. Short of running onto the set to stop us or pulling the plug, there was nothing he could do. We played past the point where Lulu might have joined us, played through the time for talking at the end, played through Stanley tearing his hair, pointing to his watch and silently screaming at us. We played out the show. Afterwards, Dorfman refused to speak to us but the result is one of the most widely used bits of film we ever did. Certainly, it's the most relaxed.

The stunt reportedly got Hendrix banned from the BBC--but it made rock and roll history. Years later, Elvis Costello paid homage to Hendrix's antics when he performed on Saturday Night Live. You can watch The Stunt That Got Elvis Costello Banned From SNL here.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in 2012.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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The Stunt That Got Elvis Costello Banned From Saturday Night Live (1977)

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Is the Live Music Experience Irreplaceable? Pretty Much Pop #11

Surely technological advances have made it unnecessary to ever leave the house, right? Is there still a point in seeing live people actually doing things right in front of you?

Dave Hamilton (Host of Gig GabMac Geek Gab) joins Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt to discuss what’s so damn cool about live music (and theater), the alternatives (live-streamed-to-theaters or devices, recorded for TV, VR), why tickets are so expensive, whether tribute bands fulfill our needs, the connection between live music and drugs, singing along to the band, and more.

We touch on Rush (and their tribute Lotus Land), Damien Rice, Todd Rundgren, The Who, Cop RockBat out of Hell: The MusicalHedwig and the Angry Inch, the filmed Shrek The Musical, and Rifftrax Live.

We used some articles to feed this episode, though we didn’t really bring them up:

You know Mark also runs a music podcast, right? Check out Erica doin’ her fiddlin’ and singin’. Listen to Mark’s mass of tunes. Here’s Dave singing and drumming some Badfinger live with his band Fling, and here’s Mark live singing “The Grinch.”

This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

Ric Ocasek and The Cars Perform Live in Concert After Their Groundbreaking Debut Album: Watch the Complete Show (January 13, 1979)

Legendary musician and producer Ric Ocasek passed away on Sunday, and the whole rock world mourns his loss. Greatly respected not only by fans but by fellow musicians (and Stephen Colbert), Ocasek achieved a very rare position in the music business—one almost unheard-of: an international superstar in the 80s with his band The Cars, formed in Boston in the late 70s, he thrived in the era of the video star, at the dawning of the music video age alongside 80s juggernauts like Van Halen, Madonna, and Michael Jackson.

Ocasek was also one of the most revered producers in 80s punk and 90s alt-rock, with as much credibility in such circles as producers like Steve Albini and Butch Vig. (His credits include Bad Brain’s Rock for Light, Weezer’s Blue Album and Green Album, and records by Suicide, Hole, Bad Religion, Jonathan Richman, Guided by Voices, etc. etc.) He had a daunting work ethic, but he also had a great deal of humility and an enduring sense of what recorded music does for us.

He may have mastered the art of making hit records and slick videos, but as he told Rolling Stone in 1980, “music’s a powerful emotional force” that is, most importantly, “a way to communicate without alienating people, a way to get beyond loneliness. It’s a private thing people can have for themselves any time they want. Just turn on the radio and there it is: a sense of belonging.” That’s what The Cars gave their fans.

They created a sense of familiarity, blending synth pop, punk, and New Wave with classic rock and roll moves; five ordinary-looking joes who’d paid their bar band dues. They also sustained an air of alienation and intrigue. Willing to be silly, yet unapproachably cool, with the most weirdly oblique of pop radio hits. “With their debut album in 1978,” writes Rolling Stone’s Mikal Gilmore, “the Cars created one of the rarest phenomena of late-Seventies rock & roll: a pop artifact that unified many factions of a pluralistic rock scene.”

“Conservative radio programmers jumped on it because of Ocasek’s consonant pop symmetry and Roy Thomas Baker’s polished, economical production; New Wave partisans favored it for its terse melodicism and ultramodern stance; and critics applauded it for its synthesis of prepunk art-rock influences, including Lou Reed, David Bowie, Roxy Music and Brian Eno.” The band's reputation with critics would suffer with their sophomore album, Candy-O. And what Gilmore called the “technopop” of their third record came to define their sound in the 80s.

The Cars in 1978 were raw and edgy, even as their debut album spawned some of their most radio-friendly hit songs, including “Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Just What I Needed” (the first three tracks on the first record, and some of the biggest songs of their entire seven-album run). See them play the early hits and more  at the University of Sussex, Brighton in 1979 in the full concert film above, and let the good times roll.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Learn the Number One Rule of Funk: Bootsy Collins Explains the Importance of “Keeping It on the One”

We all want the funk, but do we even really know what it is? Most every style of music has its distinctive rhythmic properties, from waltzes to samba to the offbeat ska guitar of reggae. But what is it that primarily defines the music of James Brown and other funk greats—music we cannot seem to hear without moving some part of our bodies? If you don’t know the answer, don’t worry—not even the great Bootsy Collins understood the fundamental principle when he first backed the Godfather of Funk in the early 70s.

Though funk is purpose-built to make people get loose and has produced some of the freest spirits in popular music, it must be played a certain way, its high practitioners proclaim. No less a master of funk than Prince put it best, as Austin Kleon notes: “Funk is the opposite of magic. Funk is about rules.” Collins learned the number one rule in Brown’s band, the sine qua non of all funk: You’ve got to keep it on the one. In other words, the bass has to hit the first beat of every bar.

Hit the one, Collins learned (and teaches us in the short lesson at the top) and you can blast into the wild pyrotechnics that made him famous. Miss the one, and no amount of fancy fretwork is going to impress James Brown, who told him, “you give me the one, you can do all those other things.” (See Collins tell the story in the video clip below.) Brown had an elaborate theory of “the one,” according to his biographer RJ Smith: “The ‘One’ is derived from the Earth itself,” he said, “the soil, the pine trees of my youth. And most important, it’s on the upbeat…. never on lowdownbeat.”

It’s the one, according to Brown, that gives funk its root and its fruit: a seismic, earthy pulse and sexy, uplifting optimism. “I was born to the downbeat, and I can tell you without question there is no pride in it.” Unlike his mentor, Bootsy doesn’t shade the blues when talking about the one. But he does have a message to deliver and it’s this: once you get the “basic funk formula, you can do anything you want to do with it.” Booty’s been bringing the funk since it began and took it places James Brown would never tread in Parliament/Funkadelic. Who better to carry the message to would-be funkateers out there?

In order to reach as many as possible, Collins decided to found a school, “Funk U.,” in 2010. Still going strong, the program has featured such guest online lecturers as Flea, Les Claypool, and Victor Wooten. The lessons of Funk U. are about music, he says, but they’re also about something else: about the deep truths he learned from James Brown. “You need the discipline and you also need to know that you can experiment, and you can open up and let your creative juices flow.” All that from the simple rhythmic beauty of keeping it on the one.

via Austin Kleon

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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