Queen at Live Aid 1985
During the eighties popular music increased its dialogue around issues of political, economic, and social
justice. In fact, artists and concert promoters chose to link those causes with major concert events in order
to publicize issues, raise funds, involve more artists, and help promote the business of rock music. These
"mega-events" (Live Aid, Farm Aid, and the Amnesty International human rights tours were the biggest)
hoped to redirect some focus from sex, drugs, and rock and roll toward a discussion of social responsibility.
Scholars disagree on the cumulative impact of these and other events. Some felt that they served to co-opt
the oppositional intentions of the artist and audience for industry gain while providing a social safety valve
to fans wishing to express dissatisfaction. Others, like Dave Marsh, believe that it enhanced "the
reawakening of a section of the rock audience to its own social potential and a quantum leap in the public
awareness of the horrifying problems of poverty, hunger, homelessness and racism"
The Concert for Bangladesh 1971
l-r: Billy Preston, Klaus Voorman, Jesse Ed Davis, Ringo Starr, George Harrison,
Jim Keltner, Eric Clapton , Leon Russell.
“ Bangladesh ”
The mega-events of the 1980s reflected the structure and format of the golden era concerts; the Monterey
Pop Festival, Woodstock , and Watkins Glen. The Concert for Bangladesh , organized in 1971 by former
Beatle George Harrison at New York 's Madison Square Garden , was a prototype that raised nearly
$250,000 with performances by Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, and other friends. In
the late 1970s anti-Nazi and antiracist groups in England staged a series of concerts called Rock Against
Racism featuring the Clash, Elvis Costello, X-Ray Spex, and Steel Pulse.