Live Aid voted the greatest single moment in 50 years of rock'n'roll

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The Independent Culture

It united the world, set a trend for global giving and changed the lives of millions in Africa. It was also a damned good gig.

It united the world, set a trend for global giving and changed the lives of millions in Africa. It was also a damned good gig.

Live Aid, the 16-hour marathon concert that turned U2 into superstars, has been voted the greatest moment in music since rock'n'roll was born 50 years ago.

The show, staged on both sides of the Atlantic in 1985 and beamed to an audience of 1.5 billion, tops a list of magical events in a survey to be published this week.

It beat the launch of MTV into second place, while Woodstock, the 1969 celebration of peace and love, was third. Music retailer HMV canvassed almost 2,000 people to mark half a century since Elvis Presley stepped into Sun Studios to record "That's All Right Mama" on 5 July 1954.

Live Aid was organised by Bob Geldof to bring relief to Ethiopian famine victims, following the fundraising single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid the year before. Staged at Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, the concert featured Elton John, Eric Clapton and, in a show-stopping performance, Queen. The event raised more than £40m.

Geldof continues to have the ear of world leaders as a result of his Live Aid efforts. "If you're talking in terms of rock'n'roll it was an amazing day," he said. "There was sublime music but it also took an issue which had been nowhere on the political agenda and put it right at the top of that agenda.

"And now 20 years later, the people that witnessed that event are either in power or writing the agenda. Blair watched it. Schröder watched it. Clinton watched it. Bush watched three hours of it.

"You know there isn't a day goes by when people don't hoot or bang something when I go past and say, 'What a great thing that was, thanks for what you did'."

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "The impact of Live Aid reverberated around the world, so it really is no surprise that it should have been the key moment for so many people. It's fair to say that most of us can remember exactly what we were doing when it was taking place."


1 Live Aid, 1985

2 Birth of MTV, 1981

3 Woodstock, 1969

4 Bill Grundy interviews the Sex Pistols, 1976

5 The Beatles take the top five places in the US chart, 1964

6 Top of the Pops launched, 1964

7 Motown Records born, 1959

8 Brian Epstein meets George Martin, 1962

9 Death of Kurt Cobain, 1994

10 The first Glastonbury Festival, 1970