Talk: by Steve Swithin
On July 7,1985 the unforgettable LIVE AIDconcerts in London and Philadelphia captured hearts and minds all around the world. The following year,theSPORT AIDcharity was formed with a similar purpose – to raise urgently needed funds for famine relief in Africa.
On May 25, 1986, according to the New York Times ““with 200,000 Londoners setting the pace, more than 20 million runners in 76 countries ran today for SPORT AID, a global benefit to raise money for the starving of Africa. Today, SPORT AIDis still the biggest sporting event ever organized"
To launch this unique event, SPORT AIDannounced to the press “an all-day live music concert, to take place at London’s Queens Park Rangers Football Stadium” – a venue which had never before hosted an outdoor concert. The charity had no previous experience of staging an outdoor show of any kind.
The concert, to be televised and broadcast by satellite to countries all around the world, was advertised to start at 1.00 p.m. on Sunday, May 25. Steve Swithin was hastily called in to put the entire concert production together. On arrival, he discovered that with less than three weeks to the date, there were no artists contacted, no tickets printed, no stage, no lights or P.A. system arranged, and most important – no budget! At one minute past 1.00 p.m. – just one minute late - the first band kicked off their set to a stadium audience of over 15,000. At 3.00 p.m., the TV cameras were beaming satellite images of the concert and millions of runners on five continents starting the SPORT AID“Race Against Time”.
Under normal circumstances, an outdoor concert requires many months of planning and extensive resources. In this frank and fascinating talk, Steve recalls the unbelievable problems that had to be surmounted to put the show together in such a short time.