On This Day In Finance: July 13 - Live Aid Concert Raises $70 million

By Joseph Nguyen | July 13, 2009 AAA
On This Day In Finance: July 13 - Live Aid Concert Raises $70 million

On July 13, 1985, Live Aid, a multi-entertainer music concert, was held at multiple venues to raise money to help the starving in Ethiopia. Organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, Live Aid was a massive global concert that held simultaneous events in Wembley Stadium, London, JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, and many other unofficial concerts that were inspired by Live Aid. The events were connected via satellite and television broadcasts with estimated viewers of 400 million across 60 countries, an astonishing number (the Super Bowl averages 95 million viewers).

Many had expected the event to raise around $25 million for the people of Ethiopia, but the final tally skyrocketed to $70 million, nearly tripling the amount expected. The largest single donation came from the ruling family in Dubai who donated $1.7 million. In the UK, the event needed eight call centers with 300 phone lines to manage donations, which were mainly credit card donations. In the U.S., Live Aid received over 22,000 pledges within five minutes after the Beach Boys took the stage at JFK Stadium. Also, despite being in a recession at the time, the country that gave the most on a per capita basis was the Republic of Ireland. (Learn about donating stock instead of cash in Can I Donate Stock To Charity?)

Some memorable performances at the event included an instance when Bob Dylan broke one of his guitar strings and Ronnie Wood took off his own and handed it to Dylan. With no guitar, Wood began playing an enthusiastic air guitar. Also, the event had the first public appearance of Teddy Pendergrass since his horrific car accident that left him paralyzed. Pendergrass performed "Reach Out and Touch" with Ashford & Simpson (Be sure to learn about deducting charitable donations in our article Deducting Your Donations.)

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