“The last people anyone expected to come out of that gig as being the memorable ones was Queen,” said Bob Geldof in an interview, looking back at the band’s stunning 24 minute set at Live Aid on July 13, 1985. In front of 72,000 people in Wembley Stadium and millions watching worldwide, Queen resuscitated their career with a selection of hits and new material.
The band, as Roger Taylor says in the mini doc below, was “bored” and “in a bit of a trough.” They also had been criticized for playing Sun City in South Africa during the reign of Apartheid.
Going into Live Aid, a lot of the artists didn’t know what to expect of the entire event. Many, including Bob Geldof himself, wondered if the event would flop. But Queen more than any of them seemed to intuit right from the start the importance of the day, though they were very nervous backstage. But once onstage they completely own it, even more so Freddie Mercury who rises to the occasion as a front man and as a singer, giving one of his best performances.
In that short set, Queen gives a full concert worth of energy and the audience responds. Not all were Queen fans, but by the end everybody had become one, singing along to “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You.” Across the Atlantic, the 90,000 strong Philadelphia audience followed suit, watching the jumbotron simulcast.
“Do you now how hard it is to get someone’s attention who’s on the other side of the room?” asks Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters in this other short doc on the set. “Imagine a stadium and making them sing along with you.”
This hot summer concert would turn out to be the zenith of Queen’s career. There would be more albums and singles, but Freddie Mercury would slowly succumb to AIDS, and disappear from public view, until passing in 1991. The Live Aid set stands as one of the band’s final, iconic, and major achievements. Watch it, in all of its glory, above. You can find this, and other Live Aid performances, on this 4 disc DVD.
Bob Geldof Talks About the Greatest Day of His Life, Stepping on the Stage of Live Aid, in a Short Doc by Errol Morris
Scientific Study Reveals What Made Freddie Mercury’s Voice One of a Kind; Hear It in All of Its A Cappella Splendor
Listen to Freddie Mercury and David Bowie on the Isolated Vocal Track for the Queen Hit ‘Under Pressure,’ 1981
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.
After today’s horrible, terrible, no-good roller coaster, I needed this so very much.
Thank you for all you’ve done, and you continue to do, particularly since Nov 8, 2016.
Please correct the date. It was July 13,1985. Details matter, and i find small errors like this on your (much appreciated) sight often.
Bit rich coming for someone who doesn’t even spell site correctly.
I love it! I will say that “Bohemian Rhapsody” is an AWESOME film. The recreation of this historic 20 minutes is absolutely INCREDIBLE. Thank you for having this cherished masterpiece. Love Queen! Love Freddie Mercury!
Echoed. I can’t tell you how much I love this site, I see and learn so much. I’ve passed it on to yet another who actually wrote me a thank you letter!