Duran Duran: Live Aid 1985 & Le Bon’s Bum Note

Live Aid 1985 - Philadelphia
It’s all you NEEEEEd.

Yeah, we had a look at the wonderful world of schadenfreude delight recently. Plus with the spirit of Woodstock 1969 in the air, we had a look around at some other legendary festivals.

Live Aid springs to mind. Over at the JKF Stadium in Philadelphia, two famous British bands suffered a nightmare – Duran Duran and Led Zeppelin. Well, with the former it concerns singer Simon Le Bon and his “bum note”.

Le Bon’s False Note

Okay, you can forward to the four minute mark on this and then brace yourself for it.

Throughout the whole song – which sees Le Bon prancing about energetically – his voice does seem a tad strained. He almost loses it shortly before the big moment. Then is happens:

"Dance into the fire. A fatal kiss, is all we NNNEEEEEd."

The world’s media descended on the moment in a heartbeat. Le Bon has since said it was the most embarrassing moment of his career.

It was quickly dubbed, “The bum note heard around the world.” It was compared with Freddie Mercury’s scintillating vocals with Queen during the band’s London performance.

And Le Bon was mocked mercilessly for it. And many, many millions of people watching on live TV laughed at him.

It’s easy to judge (and laugh). We can’t even hold a note, so fair play for singing live. Bad luck that it went a bit wrong at that moment, Simon. Even the greats mess up.

Led Zeppelin’s Bad Day

Also struggling was an undeprepared legendary rock band. Having disbanded following the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, the surviving members returned for this one off show.

Their peers The Who had done the same at the Live Aid Wembley gigs, with not much success. A lack of rehearsal resulted in an underwhelming set.

The same fate befell Led Zeppelin. Drafting in Phil Collins on the drums, he later noted singer Robert Plant was happy with that arrangement. But guitarist Jimmy Page was not.

Whatever, they had an hour to rehearse and then headed out on stage – Page clearly the worse for wear (he appears to be dribbling during the performance).

The 20 minute set was a disaster and helped put the band off reforming (they did a one-off gig in London back in 2007, though). Ever since they’ve banned the footage from appearing on any DVD release.

Plant sounds hoarse having performed three gigs in a row prior to Live Aid, whilst Page was underprepared, and Collins likewise.

The latter took a lot of the brunt with the criticism. He later defended the performance saying he wanted to walk off midway through the show, “It wasn’t my fault it was shit.”

Anyway, above is a 1973 clip from the band’s 1973 American tour. A well rehearsed Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest bands of all time.

Thusly, we wanted to remind everyone of that.

2 comments

  1. I remember this when it happened. Great idea. I always rather liked Duran Duran – used to mix them up in my mind occasionally with Spandau Ballet (even though they are totally different bands and sounds), but hey, this was the 80’s…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wasn’t even 1 at the time so my memory is a bit hazy on it. But I always laugh when he hits the false note, it’s instinctive of me. A bit cruel I guess. Led Zeppelin’s performance at the gig was far worse.

      Liked by 1 person

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