Happy Birthday Freddie Mercury: Queen At Live Aid
Farrokh Bulsara, best known to the world as Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar on this date in 1946. As a teenager, young Farrokh left Zanzibar with his family for England and settled in Middlesex where he studied music. Mercury formed Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. Bassist John Deacon joined a year later and Queen went on to become one of the most commercially successful rock bands in the world thanks in large part to Freddie’s four-octave voice. Sadly, Mercury died in 1991 at age 45 due to complications from AIDS. In honor of Freddie’s birthday, here’s a look at the band’s legendary Live Aid set from July 13, 1985.
Live Aid was organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for Ethiopians starving due to a famine. Benefit concerts were held both at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and at London’s Wembley Stadium. Queen scored a prime slot as they took the stage at 6:41 p.m. local time, which was just before primetime in England and after the worldwide broadcast has started. So in addition to the 72,000 packed into Wembley, the set was viewed by an estimated 1.9 billion people around the world as per UDiscover. The quartet turned in a historic 21-minute, six-song performance in which they made each moment count.
Queen opened with a truncated rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and then tore into their one-year-old at the time hit “Radio Ga Ga.” Next, Freddie led the crowd in a few rounds of “Ay-oh” before the quartet worked through “Hammer To Fall.” One of the group’s best known songs, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” followed. Then, Queen used a portion of “We Will Rock You” as an intro for a triumphant version of “We Are The Champions.” Mercury was in fine voice throughout and held the crowd in the palm of his hand. Thirty-four years later, Queen’s Live Aid set is considered among the best performances in rock history and was used to bookend the 2019 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
Watch Queen’s majestic Live Aid set below:
Set: Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, Hammer To Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions