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Top 10 Live Aid Videos

Live Aid
Dave Hogan, Getty Images

On July 13, 1985, music’s biggest stars gathered for Live Aid: two gigantic, simultaneous concerts which raised a reported 140 million dollars for victims of the Ethiopian famine.

72,000 people at London’s Wembley stadium, 100,000 more in Philadelphia, and nearly two billion TV viewers at home watched as some of the most popular acts in the world teamed up in interesting combinations, including (temporary) reunions of three of the most important groups in rock history. Here are 10 great videos from the historic Live Aid shows:


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Elton John packed his 20-minute late-show set in London with five of his biggest hits, duets with both Kiki Dee and George Michael, and a cover of the Motown classic 'Can I Get A Witness.'

 
 

There's a lot not to like about this very Vegas-y performance -- the band's too big, Mick Jagger's mid-song costume change is bizarre, and more importantly they waste three minutes playing 'State of Shock.' But despite all that, the chemistry between these two rock legends shines brightly.

 
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U2

 
 

In a performance that heralded their impending arrival as worldwide superstars, U2 skipped over their then-biggest hit, 'Pride (in the Name of Love)' in favor of an extended version of 'Bad' that included snippets of several classic rock songs.

 
 

The first of our three promised reunions is included on this list of the best Live Aid videos with an asterisk or two. As you can see, Crosby Stills Nash and Young have trouble hearing themselves, causing the performance to be a bit ragged. However, when those four beautiful voices do lock together, this otherwise very-'80s event takes a wonderful trip back in time.

 
 

Without a doubt, Phil Collins -- riding high both as a solo star and as Genesis frontman at the time -- was the MVP of Live Aid. With the help of the Concorde supersonic jet, he played solo sets at both the London and Philadelphia shows. Plus, he played drums for both Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin. Maybe that explains why he perversely left the dramatic drum break out of 'In the Air Tonight.'

 
 

Apart from the obligatory all-star singalong of 'We Are the World,' the honor of closing out the 20-hour, two-continent Live Aid festival went to Bob Dylan. For added star power, he brought along both of the Rolling Stones' guitarists -- and, thank heaven, nobody changed clothes or covered a Michael Jackson song.

 
 

In a clear sign of how different their commercial fortunes had become six years after their breakup, Black Sabbath is introduced as "...featuring Ozzy Osbourne" for this performance. Despite the fact that the music frequently takes a backseat to Ozzy's non-stop audience baiting, this performance proved the foursome could still raise hell together.

 
 

Led Zeppelin's first public performance since their tasteful breakup after the death of drummer John Bonham was by their own admission "sub-standard." But it was at the very least an important historical event, and Zeppelin on a bad day was still good enough to beat out nearly every other band on the bill.

 
 

In all but three countries across the world, it's illegal to have a large-scale benefit without inviting Paul McCartney to sing 'Let it Be.' As you'll see here, there's a very good reason for these laws.

 
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What other choice can there be? Queen defended their London home turf like true champions during a 19-minute, six-song tour de force that featured more range, power and excitement than anybody else on this star-studded day was able to muster.

 

Next: Top 10 MTV Video Music Awards Performances

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