For most Gen X rock fans, and even some older ones as well, July 13, 1985, remains a special date in rock music history as two concerts on two different continents attempted an altruistic event in an attempt to end the starvation of millions of Africans due to one of the more devastating draughts of the 20th century. Live Aid was not simply a major rock event, but a political and sociological statement that generally defines a generation.
Still, that day’s biggest worldwide event will always be overshadowed by the birth of my older son. Certainly, his arrival threw a wrench in my plans to watch the Live Aid coverage all day long. However, he did change my life for the better. And, now, all these years later, he is the more active of my two boys with his growing music collection. Both have their own collections, prefer vinyl over digital, lazily stream music most of the time. No matter how great of an artist lineup Coachella, Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza puts together, they will never capture the imagination of the set of artists on the docket for that event.
While Live Aid was missing Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Wham!, John Mellencamp, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Mötley Crüe, among others, we still got one helluva lineup. Seriously, U2 gave us a glimpse into their upcoming world domination. Led Zeppelin got back together for their first public appearance since the death of drummer John Bonham with Phil Collins in his place. Hall & Oates proved they were much more than a studio-based hit-making machine with their hot set. Black Sabbath got together with Ozzy Osbourne. Duran Duran celebrated their number one hit song “A View to a Kill” with a great performance. Madonna was hot, Patti Labelle was transcendent and David Bowie was stirring. And Tom Petty, The Cars, Judas Priest, Pretenders, Dire Straits, Sting, Elvis Costello all performed. Tina Turner cemented her comeback, while The Style Council played most of their songs that are so important to my wife and me. Oh, I almost forgot! Queen stole the whole headlines with their majestically timeless set. Overall, it was a tremendous day.
The crazy thing about this concert was that it was all pre-empted by the release of two charity singles. The first was the now-Christmas classic “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by a coterie of mainly UK-centric artists (along with Americans Kool & the Gang) called Band Aid. That song remains one of England’s biggest selling singles of all-time.
Seemingly not to be outdone by their British counterparts, the American industry countered with a ditty written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson entitled “We Are the World.” While not quite the timeless classic of Band Aid, USA for Africa nearly had a “who’s who” of American artists that ranged from Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen to Ray Charles and Cyndi Lauper. Unfortunately, Prince decided his mystique was more important than his cooperation, so he skipped the event. And, his image took a major hit as his decision rubbed the public the wrong way. Also on the negative side, with all the greats being invited, Dolly Parton’s absence remains a sore point with me, along with some metal vocalists, Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, Pat Benatar, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, etc., who were all not invited. Oh, where were Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin? Finally, and perhaps my biggest pet peeve concerning “We Are the World,” why didn’t Smokey Robinson get a solo? He was there Quincy! I don’t get that decision.
Still, it was those two singles that first brought awareness to that first indication of the effects of climate change. And, they also raised some money, which gave organizer Sir Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats the confidence to pull off this day-long concert on two continents connected through the innovative technology of satellite transmission.
While we celebrate one of Gen X’s more historically significant days, let’s take a moment to ponder 50 more rock artists who are missing from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Along with the first 50 artists, these artists are important enough to be inducted into the Hall. So, allow me the moment to list another batch of enduring artists, along with one of their more famous tunes.
100. Los Lobos (“La Bamba,” 1987)
99. Tool (“Schism,” 2001)
98. Commodores (“Easy,” 1977)
97. Blue Õyster Cult (“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” 1976)
96. The Pointer Sisters (“Fire,” 1978)
95. Rick James (“Super Freak,” 1981)
94. The Carpenters (“Superstar,” 1971)
93. The Bangles (“If She Knew What She Wanted,” 1986)
92. The J. Geils Band (“Flamethrower,” 1981)
91. Paul Revere & the Raiders (“Kicks,” 1966)
90. Alanis Morissette (“You Oughta Know,” 1995)
89. Salt-N-Pepa (“Let’s Talk About Sex,” 1990)
88. The Replacements (“Alex Chilton,” 1987)
87. Television (“See Now Evil,” 1977)
86. Supertramp (“Give a Little Bit,” 1977)
85. Joe Tex (“Hold What You Got,” 1965)
84. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (“I Put a Spell on You,” 1956)
83. Dead Kennedys (“California Über Alles,” 1980)
82. Sleater-Kinney (“Modern Girl,” 2005)
81. Nas (“One Love,” 1995)
80. Barry White (“Never Can Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” 1974)
79. Ben E. King (“Stand by Me,” 1962)
78. Junior Walker & the All-Stars (“Shotgun,” 1965)
77. Phish (“Bouncing Around the Room (live),” 1995)
76. Mariah Carey (“Fantasy,” 1995)
75. John Prine (“Summer’s End,” 2018)
74. Styx (“Mademoiselle,” 1976)
73. Kurtis Blow (“The Breaks,” 1980)
72. Daft Punk (“One More Time,” 2000)
71. Sade (“Smooth Operator,” 1984)
70. De La Soul (“Me, Myself and I,” 1989)
69. Jethro Tull (“Aqualung,” 1971)
68. Brian Eno (“Needles in the Camel’s Eye,” 1973)
67. Black Flag (“Wasted,” 1979)
66. Beck (“Loser,” 1994)
65. Thin Lizzy (“The Boys Are Back in Town,” 1976)
64. Sonic Youth (“Teen Age Riot,” 1988)
63. Little Feat (“Willin’,” 1971)
62. George Michael (“Father Figure,” 1987)
61. Buzzcocks (“Ever Fallen in Love,” 1978)
60. Eric B. & Rakim (“I Ain’t No Joke,” 1987)
59. The Smashing Pumpkins (“1979,” 1995)
58. Jane’s Addiction (“Jane Says,” 1987)
57. The B-52’s (“Rock Lobster,” 1979)
56. Raspberries (“Go All the Way,” 1972)
55. Dr. Dre (“Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” 1992)
54. Gram Parsons (“Wild Horses” [by The Flying Burrito Brothers, 1969, or by The Rolling Stones, 1971])
53. Eurythmics (“Love Is a Stranger,” 1983)
52. The Marvelettes (“Please Mr. Postman,” 1962)
51. Kool & the Gang (“Celebration,” 1981)
And that’s a wrap on Day 2. Next time, we’ll crack open the Top 50 in this countdown. Until then, peace and love.