The 35th anniversary of Live Aid concerts at Wembley & Philadelphia pass this week. Billed by many as the greatest gig in history the event was conceived to raise funds for famine relief in Africa, following on from the momentous “Do They know it’s Christmas’ single brought together by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure.
The sheer complexity and planning of the 13th July 1985 gig required technical innovation and ingenuity, not least in the area of sound production. Pick up any copy of the Live Aid box set and below all the artists listed you’ll find the name Jeff Griffin listed on the back cover.
Jeff was a radio producer at the BBC whose credits included “ BBC In Concert” and recordings for the John Peel show amongst many others. His name is never far away from classic recordings of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Deep Purple, David Bowie and Queen.
His friendship with Alexis Korner grew at the BBC and as an Acton resident he visited the Ealing Club alongside other West London haunts (The White Hart Southall) back in their heydays.
Jeff Griffin’s personal recollections of the Ealing Club and Alexis form part of Suburban Steps To Rockland – The Story of the Ealing Club. Now screening on (Sky Arts/Now TV) + Sky NZ, VRT + KLM Airlines. (Sign up to the mailing list for future screenings)
Live Aid and The Ealing Club
Many bands that participated in Live Aid can be linked back to the Ealing Club scene. Even, the opening band ‘Status Quo’ are thought to have passed through the Ealing Club when known at “The Spectres” (Further confirmation of this is still required, so please get in touch if you remember them)
Other Live Aid participants such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, The Who, Eric Clapton most certainly did climb the steps out of the Ealing Broadway club. Elton John, David Bowie and later, Elvis Costello were never far away.
By 1985, the Marshall stacks that had emerged from a small London Drum shop based in Hanwell (Ealing Borough) were gracing the stages both in the UK and the US. Memorably, Phil Collins also did the same, something that in 2020 would be difficult to recreate with the demise of Concorde.
BB KING (another friend of Alexis Korner) ensured the Blues featured on the Philadelphia stage. It would be another few years before he would reach out to yet another generation through U2’s Rattle & Hum Album. In BB King’s biographical movie “Life of Riley (2012) the American Blues Artist would continue to name check Alexis Korner.
However, it was former Ealing Art College student, Freddie Mercury and Queen that were sealed into many memories on that day of Live Aid. Here’s a clip of Jeff Griffin talking about his first encounter with Queen and some background to the recordings he made at Wembley stadium.
His Live Aid recordings were recently included with the film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’