Band Aid Trust Collection – a new Theatre and Performance acquisition

Theatre and Performance
March 25, 2015

I remember bobbing heads, more heads than I’d ever seen in one place.  I remember a man on stage; an angry man.  He had a lot of hair and was shouting at the heads.  They didn’t look scared…they looked like they were having a good time.

This is how I recall the experience of watching the London Live Aid concert, as a confused four year old.  Like the moon-landing footage, news reports of President Kennedy’s death or the Royal Wedding, most people remember where they were when it was broadcast on TV.

Twenty-nine years ago Bob Geldof and Midge Ure joined forces with Harvey Goldsmith and Bill Graham to organise a concert to raise money to fight the ongoing famine in Ethiopia.  Building on the momentum of their Band Aid 1984 Christmas number 1 single Do They Know It’s Christmas?, they needed something spectacular; something to entertain as well as move people to action. What they delivered was Live Aid; two mammoth concerts featuring dozens of the biggest music stars on the planet, spanning two continents and broadcast live to over a billion homes worldwide.

Items from the collection, l-r: gold disc, commemorative lp, contact sheet, AAA pass & grain sack
Items from the collection, l-r: gold disc, commemorative lp, contact sheet, AAA pass & grain sack

The spectacle of the concerts gave us pop culture images we’d never forget; Princess Diana in the stands hanging out with David Bowie, Freddie Mercury in his now iconic white vest and jeans combo, Bob Geldof’s (back before he was Sir Bob) impassioned speech in front of a crowd of 72,000 people (millions more via the live TV transmission) demanding money NOW.   It worked – an estimated £150 million has been raised to date as a direct result of the concerts, and for a day it seemed the entire world’s focus had been trained on the plight of those affected by famine.

The Theatre and Performance department have recently acquired a very exciting collection of Live Aid Trust materials including memorabilia, records, documents from the recording session of the original Band Aid single, a commemorative gold disc and an all-important Live Aid grain sack.

The collection gives us a record of the use of live performance on a grand scale; to amuse, inform and galvanize spectators.  It speaks of the singular power of live rock and pop to speak to an audience the size of which might only be dreamt of by other musical genres, and of the power of such a show to cement its place in the public consciousness forever.

The success of Band Aid and Live Aid led to spin-off events, and the collection also includes materials relating to Actor Aid and Fashion Aid and the Live8 concerts of 2004. Sir Bob and his team continue their fund-raising work to this day, most recently revisiting Do They Know It’s Christmas? with a new version released in time for Christmas 2014.

The catalogue is available to browse online and most of the materials are available to view via appointment in our Blythe House reading room (please contact for more information)

About the author

Theatre and Performance
March 25, 2015

Assistant Curator in the Theatre and Performance collections at Blythe House. Currently cataloguing the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company archive.

More from Veronica Castro
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