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This Week in Rock History: Cream Breaks Up, Madonna Nude Pics Surface

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July 13, 1985: Live Aid concerts raise $283 million
The granddaddy of all rock benefits was an awe-inspiring venture: twin concerts, held in London and Philadelphia, to raise money to relieve the devastating Ethiopian famine. And it worked, to the tune of over $250 million raised and 1.5 billion viewers worldwide.

Organized by U.K. activists/musicians Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, Live Aid boasted a top-notch roster: U2, Elton John, David Bowie, Paul McCartney and more in London; the Beach Boys, Madonna, Bob Dylan, Duran Duran and more in Philly. Several other cities hosted their own support concerts, including Sydney, Moscow and Cologne. The event exceeded its fundraising goal of one million pounds, ultimately pulling (through ticket sales and merchandising) over 150 million pounds, or $283 million.

Broadcaster Richard Skinner opened the day with the now-famous line, "It's 12 noon in London, seven a.m. in Philadelphia, and around the world, it's time for Live Aid." Live Aid went on to inspire countless benefit concerts, and Geldof and Ure were both recognized by the Queen for their philanthropic endeavor: Geldof is now a Knight Commander of the British Empire and Ure is an Officer.

 

July 15, 1985: Nude photos of Madonna, taken in 1978, appear in Penthouse and Playboy
On the heels of her first North American tour, Madonna’s star could have been tarnished by scandal. Instead, she used it to define herself as an unapologetic artist.

In July 1985, Penthouse and Playboy magazines published several nude photographs of the singer. She had posed for them in the late Seventies while a struggling young model in New York, and was reportedly paid just $25 per session. It was a major scandal for the rapidly ascending pop star, and the press clamored for her response, which she gave defiantly: Instead of expressing regret for the images, she owed up to them as a product of her destitute early days. At the height of the media furor, she joked about the photos, quipping at Live Aid (see above) that she wouldn’t remove her jacket because the press "might hold it against me 10 years from now."

Years later, Madge got the last laugh: In 2009, the photographs sold at the posh Christie’s auction house for over $100,000.

LAST WEEK: Jim Morrison Dies, the Beatles Hit the Big Screen

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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