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

“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.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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 and/or watch his films here.

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Comments (5)
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  • azteclady says:

    Thank you.

    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.

  • L M Port says:

    Please cor­rect the date. It was July 13,1985. Details mat­ter, and i find small errors like this on your (much appre­ci­at­ed) sight often.

  • Dean says:

    Bit rich com­ing for some­one who does­n’t even spell site cor­rect­ly.

  • John says:

    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!

  • Pongodhall says:

    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!

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