Today marks the 25th anniversary of Live Aid, not to mention the 25th anniversary of one of my low points (although, looking back, my situation doesn’t seem all that dire anymore).
Do you remember where you were that day?
I was living near Los Angeles, jobless, and depending on tip money from gigs I was playing in local bars.
Solo acoustic music was dead in 1985 in L.A., the city that spawned the singer-songwriter era in the 1970s but then turned its back on the genre in the 1980s.
Finding gigs wasn’t easy back then but I had managed to book a solo show at a little bar on Sepulveda Boulevard. The timing was perfect – rent was due, I desperately needed the money, and this was probably the nicest club I’d ever booked.
That night, I showed up and noticed that the parking lot was filled with cars. Inside, the bar was hopping. All the tables were full. I was thrilled until I noticed that everyone was intently watching a big screen television.
I set up my P.A. system and began taking a sound check. Then the bartender walked over and said, “People are complaining about the noise. They want to watch Live Aid. I can’t let you play tonight. Sorry, I didn’t know the concert was going to be televised.”
I ended up dismantling my P.A. system, loading everything back into my car, and going home alone and drinking a 12-pack of Budweiser while watching Live Aid on a 10-inch black-and-white TV in an efficiency apartment in Van Nuys, depressed and homesick.
Sounds kind of romantic and adventurous now. Back then it just felt sad.