In 1984 - Moved by images of young children in Africa dying of starvation, Bob Geldof organized with Midge Ure Band Aid, a "supergroup" of British musicians and singers which recorded the single "Do They Know It's Christmas". It became the fastest selling single in UK history and raised over £8 million worldwide in funds for emergency aid to Ethiopia.
Live Aid was was organised by Bob Geldof, Midge Ure, Harvey Goldsmith and the Band Aid Trust, in order to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. Billed as a "global jukebox", the main sites for the event were Wembley Stadium, London, attended by 72,000 people, and JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, attended by about 90,000 people, with some acts performing at other venues such as Sydney and Moscow. It was one of the largest scale satellite link-ups and TV broadcasts of all time -- an estimated 1.5 billion viewers in 100 countries watched the live broadcast.
The concert was conceived as a follow-up to another Geldof/Ure project, the successful charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" performed by a collection of British and Irish music acts billed as "Band Aid" and released the previous winter.
The concert grew in scope as more acts were added on both sides of the Atlantic. As a charity fundraiser, the concert far exceeded its goals: on a television programme in 2001 one of the organisers stated that while initially it had been hoped that Live Aid would raise £1 million ($1.64 million), the final figure was £150 million (approx. $245.4 million) for famine relief. Partly in recognition of the Live Aid effort, Geldof received an honorary knighthood. Music promoter Harvey Goldsmith was also instrumental in bringing Geldof's and Ure's plans to fruition.
The concert was started in 12:00 (GMT) in Wembley (UK). It continued at JFK Stadium (US) starting at 13:51 (8:51 AM Eastern time). The UK's Wembley performances ended at 22:00. The US's JFK performances and whole concert ended at 04:05 (11:05 PM Eastern time). Thus the concert continued for 16 hours, but since many artists' performances were conducted simultaneously in Wembley and JFK the total concert's length was much longer.
The concert was the most ambitious international satellite television venture that had ever been attempted at the time. In Europe, the feed was supplied by the BBC. BBC's broadcast was opened by Richard Skinner co-hosted by Andy Kershaw and included numerous interviews and chatters in between the various acts. The BBC's TV feed was mono, but the "BBC Radio 1" feed was simulcast in stereo. Due to the constant activities in both London and Philadelphia, the BBC producers omitted the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reunion from their broadcast. The BBC did, however, supply a "clean" feed to various TV channels in Europe.
ABC was largely responsible for the U.S. broadcast (although ABC themselves telecast only the final three hours of the concert from Philadelphia, hosted by Dick Clark, with the rest shown in syndication). An entirely separate and simultaneous U.S. feed was provided for cable viewers by MTV. The MTV broadcast was presented in stereo. While the BBC telecast was run commercial-free (it is a public channel), both the MTV and ABC broadcasts included advertisements and interviews. As a result, many songs were omitted due to the commercial breaks as these songs were played during such times.