Tuesday, April 20, 2010

#165: We Are The World

Welcome to Part II of the Live Aid wrap up.  Read Part I first and then come back to this one.

Back?  Good.  Now that it's all been set up, let's git it on!

Bernard Watson – who? Promoter Bill Graham allowed him on stage to open the USA leg of the show after he spent the week sleeping in the car park. The classic rags to rags story.
Joan Baez – the first of the old hippies and the main difference between the UK and the USA concerts. The UK performances were generally fun and party time, the USA performances were dead serious man. Good ole Joanie is still out there and making her political views known.
The Hooters – you may not believe this but they kept going until 1995 when they quietly ‘went into hiatus’. Have since reformed as of 2001 and released their latest album in 2003. Didn’t make the final cut on the DVD.
The Four Tops – Motown legends. Remained together from 1953 through to 1997. Sadly death has seen the group whittled down to one original member. Also didn’t make the final cut on the DVD.
Billy Ocean – is still around and last toured Australia in 2008. Was awarded an honorary doctorate of music in 2002 by the University of Westminster. Clearly Chris DeBurgh wasn’t available on that day.
Black Sabbath – yep, you missed this one. Ozzy reformed the original Black Sabbath for the day and had to plead for a slot. Go figure. Anywhere else in the world they'd have been given a prime headlining spot, in the USA they were given 11 minutes and told to either take it or fuck off.  Have had more singers than Spinal Tap have had drummers, but it all comes back to Ozzy. Have since reformed several times, to varying degrees of success, and Ozzy, when not mumbling and swearing his way through his reality television show, is now an official heavy metal legend. I swear he’s had a facelift though.
Run DMC – another act you forgot you saw. The brilliant Run DMC split in the early 1990s and reformed in the late 1990s and only came to a stop when Jam Master Jay was tragically shot and killed in 2002. Still, there are rumours that Run and DMC will perform at some point this year. Fingers crossed.
Rick Springfield – made millions as the template for Ronn Moss. Came back to Australia to tour as part of the Countdown concerts, ironic as he wasn’t really part of Countdown when it happened at the time. Your mum loves him to death. Didn’t make the final cut on the DVD.
REO Speedwagon – now REO Speedwagon are the classic example of bottom of the barrel scraping. This may stun your socks off, but they’re still around.
Crosby, Stills & Nash – on and off all the time. Seriously, they’re only good when Neil Young is with them.
Judas Priest – lead vocalist Rob Halford split in 1991 on the back of the whole subliminal messages trial (a few kids killed themselves, like most Americans the parents couldn’t blame either the kids or themselves, so instead blamed Judas Priest and took them to court. Priest won). Halford since came out of the closet in 1998, much like George Michael it surprised three people who’d just come out comas. Halford and Priest reformed in 2003 and have been going strong ever since. A true powerhouse of the genre.
Bryan Adams – still polluting the world with his own unique brand of music.
The Beach Boys – more like The Beach Boy. The last Wilson, Carl, who was in the band died in 1998 and since then the ever increasing maniacal Mike Love has claimed the band name for himself. He still tours, with Bruce Johnson, who replaced Glen Campbell who replaced Brian Wilson.  Most of them turned up on the day though and sang their little hearts out, God bless 'em.  Having said that they've done nothing anywhere near as good as the late Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue since the mid 1960s.
George Thorogood & the Destroyers, with Bo Diddley & Albert Collins – George still tours and makes music to drink beer and bash people by. Albert Collins passed away in 1993 and Bo Diddley in 2008.
Simple Minds – split, reformed and split again only to reform again. Crashed into the 1990s with the brilliant Real Life album and then BANG! Nothing. Well, not quite. Band members kept leaving until the band was a duo. Reformed properly in 2009 and have been going strong ever since.
The Pretenders – is still Chrissie Hynde. Have had more band members than albums released I believe.
Santana & Pat Metheny – Santana hit on the idea of hiring hip young singers, such as Steven Tyler, to sing songs while he overplayed along. Still believes Che Gurvera was a saint. Pat Metheny is still touring and making interesting little jazz albums. Santana was so happy with his set that he refused to allow Geldof to include it on the official DVD. Grab the bootleg and check it out. It’s not that good.
Ashford & Simpson with Teddy Pendergrass – poor Teddy. It was both heartening and sad when Ashford & Simpson rolled Teddy out in his wheelchair to sing. His voice was weak but hell, it was Teddy Pendergrass. Sadly he passed away early this year. Ashford & Simpson are still producing and performing, but try not to confuse them with Womack & Womack.
Madonna – Gawd. Madonna. The best story of the day was when Madonna came backstage and the minders asked Robert Plant and Eric Clapton to move out of the way and avert their eyes as “Madonna is coming.” Clapton fixed his stare on the minder, retorted, “Yew must be joking,” and turned back to his conversation while Plant did the sensible thing and merely ignored the whole spectacle. Sean Penn later revealed his embarrassment in print. Since then Madonna has leaped on and off more bandwagons and released more bad albums and worse movies than any other act known to man, and that includes the Legendary Stardust Cowboy.
Tom Petty – hit the big-time when George Harrison asked if he’d like to join his band. Said band also contained a guy called Bob Dylan, along with Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. The Traveling Wilburys lasted two albums and survived the death of Orbison, but the death of Harrison was the end of that. Petty still tours and releases interesting albums.
Kenny Loggins – Footloose! Danger Zone! Kenny! Only sang one song! That sums up his career in the shell of a nut.
The Cars – at the end they genuinely hated each other. They split and never reformed again. There was a push to reform in the late 1990s, but the death of Bengamin Orr put paid to that.
Neil Young – the Grandfather Of Grunge. Is still touring and, when he wants to, releasing very dangerous albums with some of the best, and most unique, guitar sounds you’re ever likely to hear.
The Power Station – vocalist Robert Palmer had left this Duran Duran offshoot before Live Aid. They split about ten minutes after coming off stage and reformed in 1995, without John Taylor but with Palmer. They split for good in 1996 and the deaths of Palmer and drummer Tony Thompson in 2003 laid the band to rest for good. Thankfully didn’t make the final cut on the DVD.
The Thompson Twins – wrote I Want That Man for Debbie Harry. Split in the early 1990s and have since refused all offers to reform since. On the day performed with Madonna, Steve Stevens (famous for being Billy Idol’s guitarist) and Nile Rogers. The less said about that the better.
Eric Clapton – performed with Phil Collins. Tuned a tribute song written about the tragic death of his son, Tears In Heaven, into the biggest money maker of his career and raked in the awards. Is about to tour the USA with Jeff Beck, a combination that should prove interesting to say the least as Jeff can outplay anyone he wants to.
Phil Collins – see the UK entry.
Led Zeppelin –the news of the day was the reunion of Led Zeppelin, or what remained of them. Robert Plant had no voice, Jimmy Page’s guitar hadn’t been tuned since he last pulled it out of the case in 1980 and John Paul Jones was such a late addition that he was placed on keyboards. Two drummers, Tony Thompson and Phil Collins added to the mess. Still magical, according to people who were there, but the screen doesn’t lie, nor does it carry sentiment. Plant, Page and Jones refused to have this on the official DVD and instead donated royalties from their own projects to the cause. Zep reformed a few times since, notably in 1989 (another disaster) and on awards shows and parties. Played properly in 2007 in a one-off concert which, by all accounts, was brilliant. Plant refused to reform properly and efforts by Jones and Page to find a new vocalist was in vain.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – see their separate entries. Didn’t make the final cut on the DVD and for good reason.
Duran Duran – was whittled down to a duo in the 1990s before enticing all the original members back in 2001. Andy Taylor has since left, again, and come back, again, and left, again. Have become one of the biggest bands on the planet from the 1980s.
Patti LaBelle – reformed LaBelle in 2008 and has been touring and releasing albums since Live Aid. Still has a brilliant voice.
Hall & Oates with Eddie Kendricks & David Ruffin – Hall & Oates never split, they just stopped working together at times. They’re still out there, and playing blue eyed, white boy soul music. Eddie Kendricks died in 1992, and David Ruffin went from us in 1991, but the Temptations are still touring with original member Otis Williams. No less a talent than Marvin Gaye always applauded the tone and power of Ruffin’s voice.
Mick Jagger – famously wasn’t knifed by Keith Richards and rejoined The Rolling Stones, not that he really left, in the early 1990s. Has since placed his band on top of the world and is still active and touring, despite being the Oldest Man In The World. He did a duet with Tina Turner, who is also still touring, although success has faded a bit, but she must be sleeping easier now that Ike is dead.
Bob Dylan with Keith Richards & Ron Wood – did you see it? Dylan snapped his guitar strings, Woody gave him his and they kept on going. Lionel Ritchie was overseeing the set up of the stage for the big finale behind him and doing a sound check that could clearly be heard over Dylan’s own warblings. According to Wood they rehearsed four songs, of which Dylan played one, with the other two being Dylan’s last minute choices, despite the fact that neither Richards or Wood knew how to play them. I expect that was very, very deliberate. The bad performance didn’t injure anyone though and showed the day up for what it was at times – a farce.

So what were we left with? For some it was the best day of their lives, for others it was one big joke. “This is the Woodstock for your generation,” claimed Joan Baez as the concert started. Considering how bad Woodstock was, both musically and physically, she might have been right. What Live Aid needed was a moment like Woodstock had, a Jimi Hendrix to rip the day apart with his Star Spangled Banner. Instead we got Bono leaping off the stage and into the crowd, mullet flying, to grope some poor woman.

That was our generation.

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