On July 13th, 1985, Live Aid, the largest concert event ever staged, was held. Taking place at stadiums in both London and Philadelphia, the charity concerts were broadcast to a global audience. The performers, some of the biggest rock and pop stars of the day, helped raise millions of dollars for the starving people of Ethiopia. Amidst this massive event, filled with star-studded performances and reunions of rock royalty, is a small story about a kid from Florida, who through sheer determination found himself on stage in Philadelphia, opening Live Aid.
David Weinstein was eighteen years old and had recently graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School when he took a trip during the summer of 1985. Leaving with his acoustic guitar, a Texaco gas card, and not much else, David made his way northeast in his Oldsmobile. He visited friends in Maine and New Jersey, though the main purpose of his trip was to travel to Pennsylvania to try to convince Bill Graham, the legendary concert promoter and organizer of Live Aid in Philadelphia, to let him on the bill. David attempted to achieve such a seemingly impossible goal simply because he liked the idea of the concerts and wanted to be a part of it. Before he left, he recorded a demo tape of a few of his original songs at his school’s studio. As the tape started rolling, David uttered these words: “Dear Mr. Graham, I would like to begin the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia with this song.” Doug Burris, David’s music teacher, who was recording the session, picks up the story:
I asked him what was going on and he informed me that that’s exactly what he was going to do. Knowing that David was a little unorthodox, spontaneous and driven, I did not ask any further questions, said ‘Ok,’ and finished the session.
One of David’s songs, “Interview,” includes the line, “I’m going to get lucky or I’m going to die trying.”
David waits for his big break.
I recently spoke with David, and he told me that he arrived at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia ten days before Live Aid would take place, looking for Bill Graham. He managed to worke his way into to the area where the stage was being built, and it was there that he spotted Mr. Graham. “That’s Bill Graham,” he said to himself, “That’s the man I came to see.” Unsurprisingly, Graham asked him who he was and what was he doing there. David explained his intentions and handed over his demo tape. A day or two later, Graham came out to the parking lot where David was camped out in his car. Graham said he liked the material, but that David’s singing and guitar playing needed work. Undeterred, David asked if he could play for him, right there in the parking lot. Graham left, but a few hours later, someone brought a prime rib dinner out to him—surely a good sign. Graham came out again, this time bringing along a reporter from Rolling Stone, and David played Bob Dylan’s “All I Really Want To Do.” Afterwards, Graham said, “I’ll get back to you.” Incredibly, David did indeed get the nod from Mr. Graham, and would kick off the U.S. edition of Live Aid. When David called Mr. Burris to tell him that it was actually happening, his music teacher didn’t believe him and advised that he see a psychiatrist. But David wasn’t delusional, and soon Mr. Burris and members of the Weinstein family were on their way to Philadelphia.
More after the jump…
Posted by Bart Bealmear |
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