By Jim Gibson

July 2010 – As we celebrate our nation’s birthday and the unofficial height of summer, it seems like a good time to take a break from business as usual.

This week many people are naturally thinking about our country’s history and the American spirit. I found myself thinking also about our non-American friends on this continent and abroad and the human spirit.

This was prompted by the realization that this July 13th is the 25th anniversary of Live Aid.

For those too young to remember, Live Aid was a charity concert in support of African famine relief. The concert was simulcast from Philadelphia and London and featured many of the biggest names in rock and alternative music performing for free.

Taking place in 1985, it was before we used the internet, cell phones, text messages, and email. Yet it required the coordination of satellite broadcasts from the two continents, as well as beamed-in and taped performances from other countries by performers unable to be in London or Philadelphia. One of the more memorable novelties was Phil Collins playing with Sting in London and then traveling by Concorde to the US in time to join the reunited Led Zeppelin in Philadelphia.

It’s been estimated that 1.4 billion people watched the concert.

The lineup of star power (including “up-and-comers” like Bono and Madonna) was no coincidence. It was intended to ensure success…and it worked.

Besides being great entertainment, Live Aid was foremost a fund raiser. By the end of the day, more than $70 million had been raised. Then the recordings of the concert raised even more money for the cause.

Pulled together in just three weeks, Live Aid was something never seen before or since. It’s been called “The day music changed the world.”

The concert’s roots go back to the recording of “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” in November 1984. Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats was moved to action after seeing a documentary about the Ethiopian famine, which killed more than a million people in 1984-5 alone. He had fame, resources, and connections and he decided to put them to good use. Geldof and Midge Ure of Ultravox persuaded a who’s who of musical stars, which became known as Band Aid, to “check their egos at the door” and donate their talent to making a record for charity. They only had 24 hours of studio time, so the performers had to come prepared to focus and get the job done.

They got the recording completed in one day and it raised more than $10 million, instantly becoming a worldwide hit and inspiring a host of similar efforts around the world. The most famous American effort was “We are the World” by USA for Africa.

Encouraged by the Band Aid success, Geldof and Ure advanced to the more ambitious undertaking of Live Aid.

In a decade when “insider trading” gained notoriety, and some of the most famous names were associated with the ruthless accumulation of personal wealth, both Live Aid and Band Aid were stunning examples of people stepping up for the betterment of others. They raised millions of private sector dollars to help combat famine, and they remain a testament to the power of inspiration, selflessness, and the human spirit.

About the Author

Jim Gibson founded Gibson Consultants in 2002 after careers in healthcare IT and group health insurance. At Dictaphone Healthcare he was responsible for sales of speech recognition solutions to providers in the northeast. Working with the product management group, he also helped position Dictaphone’s automated coding, NLP, and handheld charge capture solutions. As vice president of sales for HSS (now part of Ingenix), Jim was responsible for nationwide direct and third party sales of coding, case mix classification, and prospective payment system (PPS) software to hospitals and payers. Before HSS, Jim sold the DIAMOND payer administration system for Health System Design and clinical guidelines and administrative services for Health Risk Management. Prior to his healthcare IT career, he spent nine years with Prudential Healthcare in sales, sales management, and hospital contracting.

You can reach Jim directly at (910)444-4484 or email


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