Queen rehearse for famous Live Aid set in sensational behind-the-scenes video

27 April 2021, 16:59

A video of Queen filmed 36-years-ago documents the band's rehearsals in the days leading up to Live Aid in 1985..
A video of Queen filmed 36-years-ago documents the band's rehearsals in the days leading up to Live Aid in 1985.. Picture: Queen Productions Ltd

By Giorgina Hamilton

A video has emerged of Queen's Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Brian May rehearsing for 1985's Live Aid – the most famous performance of the band's career.

Queen may be known as the kings of showmanship, but Freddie Mercury's famous performance at Live Aid blew every other band out of the water.

The 16-hour concert, held simultaneously at JFK Stadium Philadelphia and at Wembley Stadium in London, saw artists including Elton John, Madonna, Sting, Bryan Adams, the Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Duran Duran, U2, Neil Young and Eric Clapton come together to raise over $125 million to fight famine in Ethiopia.

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But it was Queen who took to the stage on July 13, 1985 and left the whole world in awe.

Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Brian May gave a exceptionally polished 22-minute set of their greatest hits to an audience of 1.9 billion people worldwide.

Queen may be known as the kings of showmanship, but Freddie Mercury's famous performance at Live Aid blew every other band out of the water. Pictured: Freddie Mercury rehearsing for Live Aid.
Queen may be known as the kings of showmanship, but Freddie Mercury's famous performance at Live Aid blew every other band out of the water. Pictured: Freddie Mercury rehearsing for Live Aid. Picture: Queen Productions Ltd
Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Brian May gave a exceptionally polished 22-minute set of their greatest hits to an audience of 1.9 billion people worldwide. Pictured: Queen at rehearsals ahead of Live Aid in 1985.
Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Brian May gave a exceptionally polished 22-minute set of their greatest hits to an audience of 1.9 billion people worldwide. Pictured: Queen at rehearsals ahead of Live Aid in 1985. Picture: Queen Productions Ltd

The performance has gone down in history as one of the most famous of all time, later becoming the pinnacle of the storyline for 2019's Oscar-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody where it was perfectly recreated scene-for-scene by actor Rami Malek.

See more: When Freddie Mercury joined Adam Lambert for a spine-tingling duet of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in 2015

Queen's setlist was a veritable who's who of hits, including: 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Radio Ga Ga', 'Hammer to Fall', 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are the Champions'.

And while the performance on the day looked completely effortless, Queen had practised for the set at length, with a resurfaced video filmed 36-years-ago documenting the band's rehearsals in the days leading up to the historic event.

The footage shows the four band members on stage in a small rehearsal space as they run through parts of the iconic set.

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The video is reportedly a mix of rehearsals for both the band's arena show in Montreal, Canada and Live Aid at Wembley and opens with the partial rehearsal of Queen's 'Hammer To Fall'.

Queen's setlist was a veritable who's who of hits, including: 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Radio Ga Ga', 'Hammer to Fall', 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are the Champions'.
Queen's setlist was a veritable who's who of hits, including: 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Radio Ga Ga', 'Hammer to Fall', 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are the Champions'. Picture: Queen Productions Ltd
The video is reportedly a mix of rehearsals for both the band's arena show in Montreal, Canada and Live Aid at Wembley and opens with the partial rehearsal of Queen's 'Seas of Rye' (pictured)
The video is reportedly a mix of rehearsals for both the band's arena show in Montreal, Canada and Live Aid at Wembley and opens with the partial rehearsal of Queen's 'Seas of Rye' (pictured). Picture: Queen Productions Ltd

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Footage then cuts to Freddie Mercury playing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' at the piano before he takes to his feet to sing a version of 'Radio Gaga' that blows the roof.

Despite there being no audience it's clear Queen give the rehearsals their all as they prepare for the huge Live Aid concert – that unbeknownst to them, will become the most famous performance of their careers.

The video comes after an interview of Queen being in the days leading up to Live Aid emerged where the band spoke candidly about 'egos' at the concert and revealed they were 'squabbling' over the now very famous setlist.

See more: Freddie Mercury vs Crowd: When the Queen frontman challenged his fans to a spine-tingling sing-off

Asking about the reason they're doing Live Aid, the interviewer tried to pin Queen down: "Is that because you support the cause and want to do your bit, or because it’s such a unique rock even that you can’t afford to miss out in a way?" she says.

"Honestly it’s a bit of both actually," answers Freddie Mercury. "I think it is a very good cause and initially I think we would have liked to have taken part in the Band Aid single but I think we were in separate parts of the globe.

"So the second bash I did was this thing and also the fact that some of the biggest and best known groups around the world are taking part, why not us?" Freddie adds.

See more: Freddie Mercury and Brian May's private hotel jam session from 1986 is magnificent

The 16-hour concert raised over $125 million to fight famine in Ethiopia and beacme Queen's most famous performance of their career.
The 16-hour concert raised over $125 million to fight famine in Ethiopia and beacme Queen's most famous performance of their career. Picture: Getty

The band went on to say they were still decided about the setlist, with Roger Taylor saying: "We don’t really know quite what to do, whether to play the hits or to try and do something new, but I think in twenty minutes really we’ve got to play things that people know and will recognize, you know, in Turkey or wherever they’re watching maybe."

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"So we’re still squabbling over that fact, that’s what he’s trying to say," Freddie adds with a grin.

The interview ends on a light note from the four band members, with the interviewer asking about egos.

"Saturday is meant to be all for a good cause and there aren’t meant to be any egos involved, but also.." she stops as the whole band burst out laughing.

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"No egos at all, no!" Brian May says sarcastically.

"Are so many superstars going to find it difficult to be in each other’s personal spaces?" the interviewer asks.

Queen spoe in an interview before Live Aid about 'egos' at the concert and revealed they were 'squabbling' over the now very famous setlist. Pictured performing at the Wembley concert in 1985.
Queen spoe in an interview before Live Aid about 'egos' at the concert and revealed they were 'squabbling' over the now very famous setlist. Pictured performing at the Wembley concert in 1985. Picture: Getty

See more: Queen's Roger Taylor explains why John Deacon quit the band

"Completely totally impossible," laughs Roger Taylor, "It's going to be chaos."

"Should be hilarious," adds Brian May.

"I think it’s going to be chaotic, yes," says Freddie. "It has to be I mean we’re not, we’re not all wonderfully well behaved kids are we?"

"But that’s, that’s going to sort of actually be the nice part of it. There will be lots of friction and we’re all going to try to outdo each other I guess and but we’re just going to go out there and play."

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As the interview came to an end, Brian May says: "Everybody’s going to out there giving their best and that’s what it’s about. Make some money for those people."