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Live Aid's Legacy: 30 Years Later

The all-star benefit concert gave rise to the trend of high-profile, celebrity-endorsed charitable efforts, and changed the nature of fundraising in the process. On July 13, 1985, Africa became a brand. The image of a starving Ethiopian girl named Birhan Woldu flickered across TV screens as Paul McCartney, David Bowie, and Madonna played beneath a “Feed the World” banner on stages in London and Philadelphia. Live Aid, as the event was known, was attended by almost 175,000 people at both venues, and raised an initial $80 million in aid for the victims of a horrific famine. But the 16-hour, transcontinental broadcast was more than just a benefit performance: It was a marketing exercise that distilled the African continent’s complex history into a logo seen by more than a billion television viewers—roughly one-fourth of the planet’s population at the time. READ MORE

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