During the summer of 1985 the Live Aid concerts were announced. My brother Tom spent hours on the phone with Teletron waiting to order tickets. To all our amazement, he finally got through ordering six tickets. To his credit he offered me two of them and I asked my best friend Fred to come back to Philly for the July 13, 1985 show. We stayed at a college roommate of Tom’s house in Philadelphia and had one of the most entertaining, funniest and most memorable days of my life.
It began Friday, the day before the show when we piled into Tom’s 1974 Celica and headed south. A few cases of beer for the ride and not a care in the world. We got to Philly and the party continued. Tom had football player buddies from BC show up and we stayed up late into the night boozing and telling stories. Then the next morning we were off to JFK stadium arriving at 7:30am in time for Joan Biaz and the Hooters starting the show.
There were a lot of us with tickets spread throughout the enormous stadium. We noticed, being in early, that there was a sizable gap with no fans in the bench seats in the last row, right in front of the press box. A group of about 10 of us guys headed there. As we were allowed coolers in the stadium the boozing began early. Then there was the trippin’ dude. Two guys and a girl sat next to us. They seemed normal enough until one of the guys began screaming “Mama, mama, mama” over and over again and then began to yell, “When is this show going to start!” We were hours into the show at this point. It was a very hot day and the trippin’ dude began cutting off his corduroys with a knife, cutting his leg in the process. The blood freaked him out more and he began his “mama, mama” chant again. The girl with him said he had to be at work that afternoon. I don’t remember for sure but I don’t think he got to work that day.
Then we realized Tom’s friend Rich, was missing. No one knew where he’d gone. Reports from one guy claimed that he was arrested and taken away in a squad car. If that were true, where would we stay that night? After all we were staying at Rich’s house! Either way, who cared? The music was great, the drinks were flowing, some passed out and revived, and it was only 10:00am.
Suddenly Rich appeared shirtless with the sun’s reflection off his white skin blinding concert goes within a 2 section radius. A crazed look in his face, Rich hurled himself up our section taking steps two at a time and grabbing a snow cone from an unsuspecting vendor. We were screaming to him, but to no avail as the half mad Rich two or three stepped it down to a cheering crowd of live aiders. We concluded that the trippin’ dude must have put something on Rich’s back that caused the otherwise mild mannered Rich to lose it completely. I don’t know if Rich, now a successful lawyer, really knows what caused those moments of insanity on an insane day all those years ago.
The trippin’ dude was not done yet. When one of us told him the concert was over, probably around noon, maybe 11 hours before it would really end, the trippin’ dude ran into the press box trying to get home. He ran up and down screaming to the horror and fright of the MTV and ABC broadcasters airing the show. The wily trippin’ dude may have escaped the security people but I can’t remember if we saw him again that day. Wonder what ever happened to him.
As the day wore on we began to get hungry. Fortunately we stumbled into a solution for food. As Dick Clark and ABC began the television coverage, we kept standing up to cheer on bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Pretenders and U2 on the screen from London. When standing we blocked the TV cameras. Clark’s staff could not control us until they offered us Roy Rogers fried chicken in return for not blocking the worldwide broadcast of this monumental event. Happily, we sat back and ate the chicken allowing the world to view this great day and saving Africa. A fair trade I would say.
As evening fell and the booze ran out, those around us began to use other intoxicating means. Fred began hanging out with these two guys from Long Island and a reporter from CNN. The reporter had a bag of pot and the four of them began to toke up. After the pot was fully in affect the reporter interviewed the three of them. I had made my way down to the floor by then to see Duran, Duran, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and the reunion of Led Zeppelin from about 30 feet. Anyway, a week later we saw the interview by the stoned reporter to 3 stoned young men. He asked the Long Island guys if they were having a good time to which they replied, “yes and we just met our friend Fred here.” The camera focused on Fred’s blank face. It looked like he tried to say something in his head but it never made it to his lips. A very apt reply.