Trev’s stories of backstage at Live Aid
It's almost hard to believe in this time of government shutdowns and parking lot concerts, but once upon a time in a galaxy known as 1985 and two lands known as Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, more than 160,000 people would come together in sweltering heat to watch 75 acts perform a benefit concert called Live Aid, which raised $127 million for famine relief in Africa.
The concert in Philadelphia aired on both MTV, which was new at the time, and Channel 29 before it became part of Fox. I was lucky enough to produce the radio broadcast for the now-defunct WYSP in Philadelphia.
For some reason, rather than show the concert in real-time on all three outlets and sync the radio to provide the stereo soundtrack to the TV feeds, they instead divided it so that there was a different act on each TV station and radio.
Among the many bands/acts that performed were Elton John, Paul McCartney, Madonna, The Who, Sade, Bryan Adams, The Beach Boys, Run DMC, David Bowie, Genesis, Led Zeppelin and, of course if you've seen the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen, whose performance in the movie was a perfect match for the actual appearance.
According to Carter Alan, Bruce Springsteen was asked to perform in Wembley Stadium, but turned Geldof down. Considering his stance on human rights and charitable causes, that was a surprise. Bruce has since said that he regretted the decision.
Most of the WYSP air-staff had gotten backstage in the various band camps to get me interviews which I would record and have ready for our hosts Steve Sutton and R.D. Steele to use on the air. It didn't always go well. At one point, our news director, Gary Lee Horn, was punched in the stomach by Mick Jagger's security guard for simply asking the Rolling Stone a question.
Phil Collins, who performed in London, had taken the Concorde to Philadelphia to play drums for Led Zeppelin. I'll never forget when they ended "Stairway To Heaven," the long applause which seemed to go on forever and Steve Sutton who was handling the broadcast on WYSP simply saying after letting the applause go on for about five minutes, "there are no words." He was right, there weren't.
What there also wasn't on hand was a tape of the performance which Robert Plant wanted to see. My program director Andy Bloom, who had worked his way into the Led Zeppelin camp, called the station and asked if anyone was taping the show on VCR, yes that's what we had in 1985. It turns out my wife at the time was taping it at my house and we sent our programming assistant to Roosevelt to get it.
I never got it back but that's okay. The memories of that day and all the great performances and memories of working with that WYSP staff, which was broken up a few weeks later, will always be etched in my memory.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
More from New Jersey 101.5: