News National On This Day: Oz for Africa 1985 fundraiser concert rocks Sydney

On This Day: Oz for Africa 1985 fundraiser concert rocks Sydney

Michael Hutchence performed live on stage with INXS during the Live Aid 'Oz For Africa' event in 1985. Photo: Getty
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INXS, Australian Crawl, Men at Work.

These were just a few of the big-name Australian bands that drew screaming crowds to Sydney on this day in 1985.

But it wasn’t getting to see Michael Hutchence up close, or the chance to belt out The Boys Light Up, that enticed the 10,000 fans (well, not entirely).

Oz for Africa was an enormous outdoor concert intended to raise money for famine relief in Africa.

The four-hour concert, held at the Sydney Sports and Entertainment Centre, was broadcast locally and internationally as part of the worldwide Live Aid performances.

Due to the time difference, the Oz for Africa concert began 12 hours ahead of the main gig at Wembley Stadium in London, making it the first Live Aid concert in the world.

Later, on the other side of the world, concerts in the UK and the US featured dozens of big names including Elton John, Madonna, Santana, Sting, the Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, U2 and David Bowie (just to name a few).

Queen’s 20-minute set in London was later voted the nation’s greatest live performance of all time.

Not bad for a concert series organised in only 10 weeks.

Compared to today’s ticket prices (hello, Elton John), Oz for Africa was dirt cheap: Spectators paid just $18.50 each.

One by one, host Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum – the musical director of ABC TV’s pop show Countdown – introduced 17 of Australia’s biggest music groups of the day.

John Farnham performed live on stage with Little River Band. Photo: Getty
All groups donated their services and the concert helped raise $10 million throughout the nation.

Dragon played their classic hit Are you old enough?, Models played their thumping track Out of Mind, Out of Sight and Australian Crawl played The Boys Light Up.

Jumping crowds screamed and clapped in their thousands.

Thirty five years ago, times were much simpler.

Social distancing wasn’t a concern and no one was caught filming the entire concert on their mobile phone.

The enormous fundraiser event was organised by furniture dealer Bill Gordon and music producer Brian de Courcy, in co-operation with Irish singer-songwriter Bob Geldof and the Band Aid trust.

The original concert for Ethiopia was held in Melbourne in January 1985, and raised $1 million for the Red Cross.

Colin Hay performed with Men at Work. Photo: Getty