Released today in 1985: Dancing In The Street

EMI America EA204

EMI America EA204

The dual-venue charity concert ‘Live Aid’ took place on Saturday 13 July 1985 and was seen by an estimated 1.9 billion people worldwide. It began at midday, British Summer Time, at Wembley Stadium in London and ran for the next sixteen hours, finishing at John F Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. As the plans for the “global jukebox” began to take shape, one of the ideas was to attempt a transatlantic duet, with one artist in Wembley and one in JFK, linked by satellite. The time lag in transmissions meant that there was no way to synchronize the performances, and so the idea had to be shelved. However, the artists who were to undertake this, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, were committed to appearing in the show by the time the technical difficulties had ruled it out and so it was decided that they would record a video clip, to be given its world premiere during the show. The song chosen was a cover of Dancing In The Street, and the video Bowie and Jagger filmed was broadcast just after 19:00 BST, on screens at JFK. The song itself, which had been recorded at Abbey Road studios a couple of weeks earlier, was released as a single thirty years ago today, with all profits going towards the ‘Live Aid’ fund.

But back to the big event itself: a truly transatlantic element was provided by Phil Collins, who performed at both venues. He appeared at Wembley at about half-past three in the afternoon, then boarded Concorde for a flight to New York and was helicoptered to JFK, walking on to the stage there at eight in the evening (1am UK time). Television coverage in Britain captured some of the highlights of the American show, which included performances by the following acts relevant to If You Were There: Jim Kerr’s Simple Minds; his wife Chrissie Hynde’s Pretenders; Madonna, who was joined on stage by Thompson Twins (Madonna and Thompson Twins appeared on stage together twice during the show); and The Power Station and Duran Duran. The television coverage regularly returned to Philadelphia from 17:00 BST until the small hours of the following morning, but before that there had been visits to other locations across the globe which were contributing to the fundraising. At 13:06 BST, pictures from Oz For Africa in Australia were broadcast, where Michael Hutchence’s INXS were topping the bill; visits were also paid to Japan (13:34 BST), Austria (14:11 BST), Holland (14:40 BST), Yugoslavia (15:08 BST), Russia (15:54 BST) and Germany (16:26 BST). Meanwhile at Wembley, thee were contributions from the following If You Were There favourites:

12.18 BST The Style Council were the second group to take to the stage, following opening act Status Quo. Paul Weller said, “I’ve got certain criticisms of Live Aid, but you can’t criticize the fact that it will raise millions of pounds and save lives. That far outweighs any criticisms. There’s no one backstage I particularly want to meet, but what I would like to do I set up a sort of musicians’ union where we could get a list of people involved in some of the political things we’re interested and may be meet once a month or something.” Red Wedge would be formally launched on 21 November 1985…

12.43 BST The Boomtown Rats had to be on the bill; this was Bob Geldof’s day after all, and he was triumphantly hoisted on the shoulders of Pete Townshend and Paul McCartney at the end of the gig.

13.00 BST Adam Ant was rumoured to be the only Live Aid performer whose record sales decreased following his appearance. He performed just one song, his new single Vive Le Rock, which dropped on the following week’s chart. Everyone else saw an increase: see 17:19 BST below for a couple of examples.

13.17 BST Ultravox, featuring Band Aid co-writer Midge Ure,made their first live appearance for nearly a year.

13.46 BST Spandau Ballet’s attendance gave Gary Kemp his opportunity to meet an idol. “It was the Starman himself and he was standing at the bar pretending to be an ordinary person,” he recalled in his autobiography. “I drifted from the others and made my move. ‘David? Hi. It’s Gary Kemp.’ His eyes flicked round at me. ‘Hi.’ Then he returned to the guy he was with. Ok, maybe he doesn’t know who I am; thinks I’m nobody; I’ll qualify it: ‘From Spandau Ballet…?’ His eyes flicked to me again; a faint grin, maybe an imperceptible nod, and then his friend spoke and I’d lost him.”

14.22 BST Nik Kershaw’s set comprised his hits Wide Boy, Don Quixote, The Riddle, and Wouldn’t It Be Good: no act was permitted more than four songs on the day, unless sharing the stage with other acts.

14.54 BST Sade Adu was the one of the few female performers on the British bill, and the only one to perform a solo lead vocal. Kiki Dee and Alison Moyet also appeared during the show to perform duets with Elton John and Paul Young respectively.

15.48 BST Howard Jones introduced himself with the following: “Hello. It’s a great pleasure to be here with you today, sharing this experience. Hello to everyone who’s watching at home and listening at home as well. I’m just going to do a little song at the piano.” Which he did. (Hide And Seek). “And I’d really appreciate it if you’d help me out on the chorus bits.” Which the audience did.

16.07 BST Bryan Ferry’s songs were from his solo repertoire, although he ended his four-song set with John Lennon’s Jealous Guy, with which he had had a hit as part of Roxy Music.

16.39 BST Paul Young opened his turn with an a cappella verse of Do They Know It’s Christmas?.

17.19 BST U2 were among the notable ‘winners’ on the day, their reputation enhanced by their ability to engage the audience in the stadium and impress the television viewers watching at home; Bono’s plucking of an audience member from the crowd became one of the Wembley show’s defining images. Media coverage after the event picked out their set and that of Queen as the two standout moments of the Wembley show. Both bands’ frontmen’s extraordinary showmanship reaped considerable rewards in the following week’s albums chart. Queen’s long selling Greatest Hits, which had been languishing in the lower reaches of the Top 100 for some months, suddenly leapt from #72 to #17 in appreciation of Freddie Mercury’s stage skills; Mercury’s own Mr Bad Guy moved up 40 places to #28. U2’s entire catalogue saw sales increases: debut album Boy and 1981 follow-up October re-entered the chart at numbers 77 and 76 respectively; War shot up from #90 to #32; 1983’s live album Under A Blood Red Sky went from #54 to #16; The Unforgettable Fire from #46 to #12; even the EP Wide Awake In America made an appearance for the first time at #83.

19.22 BST David Bowie chose TVC15, Rebel Rebel, Modern Love and Heroes from his catalogue.

21.09 BST George Michael (with Andrew Ridgeley on backing vocals) sang a cover of Elton John’s Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, with Elton on piano.

The Wembley show ended shortly before 22:00 BST with a rendition of Do They Know It’s Christmas, with nearly everyone back on stage for the finale to a remarkable day.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Aug. 27
ABC All Of My Heart (Neutron NT104)
Mari WILSON Just What I Always Wanted (The Compact Organization PINK4)
CHINA CRISIS You Did Cut Me (Virgin VS799)
DAVID BOWIE AND MICK JAGGER Dancing In The Street (EMI America EA204)
KAJAGOOGOO Shouldn’t Do That (Parlophone R6106)


2 thoughts on “Released today in 1985: Dancing In The Street

  1. Pingback: The man who should have lived for absolutely ever | AbsolutelyPrabulous

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