Adam Ant speaks out against live aid
Adam Ant speaks out against live aid

Adam Ant, a firm favourite here at Louder Than War not just for his music but his last of punks outspokeness has taken a dig at Live Aid branding the global fundraising concerts a “mistake” and a “waste of time”.

Adam Ant speaks out against live aid
Adam Ant speaks out against live aid

Adam himself appeared on the bill at the London leg of the worldwide co-ordinated shows in 1985, but was restricted to one song by organizer Bob Geldof, this has made him feel aggrieved but he also has other points to make about the concert, which whilst raising plenty of money for a genuine good cause was also the point at which music started to dress in pastel shades and become uber mainstream.

Now he’s taken aim at the former Boomtown Rats frontman over the event – held to aid famine victims in Africa – and blamed him for “the end of rock ‘n’ roll” and the success of U2.

Asked to comment on a famous photograph of himself and Geldof together prior to Live Aid, Ant tells Uncut magazine, “That was when I was asked by Sir Bob to promote this concert. They had no idea they could sell it out. Then in Bob’s book he said, ‘Adam was over the hill so I let him have one number.’ One thing I’d like to do (in the photo) is kick him up the a**e.

“Doing that show was the biggest f**king mistake in the world. Knighthoods were made, Bono got it made, and it was a waste of f**king time. It was the end of rock ‘n’ roll, now hippies run the world, like f**king (British festival) Glastonbury… I hate hippies.”

Is Adam right?
Was Live Aid a genuine charity gig or were a lot of the bands reviving careers?
were anarchist band and friends of Crass, Chumbawumba correct with their ‘pictures of starving children sell records’ album cover?

comments please!

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. The idea for live aid was right at the time, the execution and legacy are all that was wrong about it.

  2. Well said Mr Ant… This was the start of the Simon Cowell generation .Most of the bands at Live Aid did it to boost their careers… I’m pleased to say i never watched any of the Live Aids .

  3. Yeah right, like the end of rock and roll is more important than the death of a starving child? So what if it gave a boost to the flagging careers of a few pompous, egotistical, over the hill ‘rock stars’. After all, the public didn’t have to go to their gigs or buy their recods/cd’s, they chose too. Rather like they’ve chosen to go and see you o0n your latest tour Adam.

  4. It\’s such an emotive issue – something had to be done, and I would suggest that its inception, and its organisers aims were entirely genuine; Geldof and co passionately believed that they could raise money, buy food and therefore save lives.

    However I also believe that certain managers, and performers knew that hidden under this obvious good cause would be an opportunity to raise the profile of their act, and in turn further their career – and I believe it is this aspect that Adam is referring to.

    The saddest aspect of all this is that many of the people saved from starvation have since died – from starvation. Supplying grain and rice did not, and will not stop people from starving; it\’s a short term stop gap – the Governments in many of the effected nations are corrupt, and its these institutions that we should deal with if we have any real desire to break the cycle of famine and starvation.

    Bob Geldof couldn\’t deal with these foreign powers, however he did feel compelled enough to do something, and even if all it did was raise the world\’s awareness to a terrible situation then I believe he did the right thing – he wasn\’t in a position to prevent unscrupulous managers and the like from to quote another \’holiday in other peoples misery\’

  5. If what I read is correct about the famine (and it may not be, since it was courtesy of a British newspaper) it was a famine created on purpose by the government, sold to the “gullible West” as a guilt trip, money was raised and this money went straight back to the pockets of those who created the famine in the first place, with some of the to the starving so as to get a good “gratitude” camera shot.

    And Ive just been reading Andy Kershaw’s excellent book “No off Switch” where Bob Geldof is mentioned in a way that backs up Adam Ant’s evaluation of him.

  6. Late to this one, but couldn’t agree more. Who was it that said ‘Live Aid – a bunch of cocaine fuelled arseholes going “hey – we’re saving the world man”‘? OH yeah, it was me, that’s who.

    What is really sickening is the personal profit / career kick-start this gave the likes of Geldof. I’m not saying he did it for personal gain, but he was already a fucking has-been at that point and no one could argue that he has done __very__ well on the exposure coming off the back of live/band aid.

  7. Poverty and aids will never be eradicated in Africa as long as we turn a blind eye.
    There is no financial gain for the west.Mugabe has killed more than Saddam.
    The Catholic church has killed even more people by sending missionaries to”educate”
    the people and teaching the ridiculous theory that contraception is ungodly,therefore spreading aids and
    increasing the population that cannot support themselves.
    Please reply to me as I would love to rant with someone.

  8. He’s right in particular about Bono. U2 had a shred of coolness left to them before this event, but since 1985 they became completely overbearing and unbearable.
    And I would far rather listen to Adam Ant sing than Bob f**king Geldof! Didn’t Geldof PROVE he couldn’t sing when he starred in a major motion picture, a few years before Live Aid? Something to do with a burnt-out rock star with delusions of dictatorship? Smashing up hotel rooms, shaving his eyebrows, and turning into a pink blob? I seem to think it’s a reasonably well-known film.
    And yeah, 80s music in general did die in approximately ’85-’86, paving the way for soulless “hair metal” and the ongoing (but ultimately uninteresting) soap opera that was Van Halen. New Wave, New Romantic, and synthpop were all dead. Not to mention “uncategorizeable” acts like Adam Ant!

  9. And as a serious Cars fan, I was 100% disgusted that they lent their big, morose hit single “Drive” to the guilt-trip film introduced after David Bowie’s segment. “Drive” is a song with very specific lyrics; it is a personal song about a relationship. It has f**king nothing to do with starving kids in Africa. “Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?” was a completely irrelevant lyric; they ARE home, and the problem is there’s no FOOD there. The lyric should be “Who’s gonna take you to America, where we throw good food away every day?” Of course that wouldn’t fit, but between performing at the event (where they played great) and lending their (inescapable) “Drive” to this pity-fest film, The Cars did not come off as a band of integrity, when they generally had been up ’til that point. This might have even harmed their career, because their next album (’87s Door To Door, a fine disc) stiffed pretty badly and destroyed the band. I think people just got fundamentally tired of the Cars, and that little film might have been a major contributing factor. Songwriter/bandleader should have had the integrity to say NO.

    • They didn’t.
      A News team cut the thing together and ‘how’ were they meant to say no ?
      With all the ”Gives us your f*cking money…”, going on it was thought that would bring in more.

  10. Well done Bob Geldof for getting off the couch and DOING SOMETHING to try and get food to hungry people. Band Aid, Live Aid etc PUT FOOD IN HUNGRY PEOPLE’S MOUTHS. Why is he slagged off for doing this?? Are people angry with him because he didn’t stop every civil war in Africa??

  11. Actually he is right, it was a waste a time. The money raised from the event did not benefit those in need and was not applied to the true cause. Spin magazine published a detailed article about it. I am glad Mr. Goddard only sung one song, everything works out. If I was a singer I would not want my name attached to a failed fundraiser.

  12. The whole point of Live Aid was to bring people from all over the world together and help those in need in Africa. And Live Aid was one of the biggest televised events ever, with numerous awesome artists. Sure, some of them did it for publicity, but the fact that it was an attempt to do something about the poverty and hunger in Africa does not change. It was a legendary event, regardless of how it “killed” music (there are plenty of good post-Live Aid musicians and songs, just because they have different styles and genres than the pre-Live Aid musicians doesn’t mean rock and roll and music in general died). If anything, the type of music that came after Live Aid is more genuine and honest than the eighties hair bands that prance around on stage. Don’t get me wrong, I love the all-out-eighties music and bands, but I am also sane and gave a respect and interest in other genres and other time periods of music. The onky music that is actual trash is the modern hip-hop rap stuff that they generate on computers.

  13. Bob Geldof: ‘Adam was over the hill so I let him have one number.’

    Meanwhile Bob Geldof’s musical ability is a speed bump in the car park at the Hall Of Mediocrity.

  14. 35 years later I just watched the AA performance at Live Aid. Lots of energy as a front man. The song was not a good choice and the crowd reaction at the end was underwhelming. AA looked a little pissed off. Sour grapes is my opinion.


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