Did You Know: A M'sian Businessman Sponsored & Helped Organise The Historic Live Aid 1985

He is reported to have contributed up to USD1.75 million to bankroll the event.

Cover image via Forbes / BBC

Most of us were probably too young (or were not even born yet) when Live Aid 1985 took place

Image via Getty Images

Held on 13 July 1985 to raise funds for the ongoing Ethiopian famine, the 16-hour long "superconcert" featured over 75 of the biggest names in music, including Paul McCartney, Madonna, Elton John, U2, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Sting, Phil Collins (who played in both London and Philadelphia), and of course, Queen.

The event, which was held simultaneously at the Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, US, was broadcasted live to an estimated audience of 1.9 billion from 150 nations across the world. 

With the large scale of link-ups needed to broadcast the event to televisions all over the world, Live Aid 1985 was considered the most ambitious international satellite TV venture to be attempted at the time.

Its inclusion in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has no doubt sparked curiosity - especially among the younger generation - in both the iconic rock band and their involvement in the historic benefit concert

Queen performing at Wembley Stadium, London for Live Aid 1985.

Image via The Music Site

Painstakingly recreated to the very last detail in Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen's 21-minute set at Live Aid 1985 is largely considered the greatest live performance in the history of rock.

Most recently, renewed interest in Live Aid 1985 has brought its Malaysian link to light. Did you know, fellow Malaysians, that a Malaysian businessman played a big role in financing and making the biggest concert of the 1980s a reality?

Malaysian media and telecommunications tycoon T. Ananda Krishnan.

Image via Forbes

The man is question is T. Ananda Krishnan, whom you may know as the third richest man in Malaysia and is a major shareholder in Maxis Telecomunications and Astro Malaysia Holdings. 

The long-forgotten piece of history was revived by writer and festival organiser Bernice Chauly in a Facebook post with a Newsweek article from 1985 detailing Krishnan's contribution to Live Aid 1985 attached.

According to the Newsweek article, Krishnan contributed most of the money and manpower needed to execute Live Aid 1985

Krishnan, who is currently valued at USD5.8 billion by Forbes, was then known as an "oil baron" who "controls Excorp, one of the largest independent oil traders in the Far East". He was also reported to have sat on the board of Bank Negara Malaysia and Petronas. However, the then 47-year-old entrepreneur had bigger dreams beyond the oil industry. 

He wanted to turn the world into a "global village", starting with broadcasting sports and entertainment around the world. 

At the same time, the future media and telecommunications tycoon was also looking to invest "social venture capital" in causes that will help the world's underprivileged. This was where Live Aid came in.

In explaining "social venture capital", Krishnan reportedly said, "Instead of giving money to a charity, I wanted to invest it in someone who could raise amounts of money." 

Enter Bob Geldof, rock celebrity and anti-poverty activist, who co-founded Live Aid.

Live Aid co-founder Bob Geldof.

Image via Pinterest

Krishnan was the one who initiated contact with Geldof, after reading about how the Irish musician roped in other British artists to record 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' under the Band Aid Trust to raise funds for famine relief.  

As fate would have it, British charity regulations did not allow the Band Aid Trust to use the funds it raised to cover overhead expenses. The businessman offered to cover said costs, which was when Geldof seized the opportunity to tell Krishnan about his vision to bring together the world's greatest rock musicians for a massive benefit concert.

Krishnan decided to put up USD750,000 in seed money and a USD1 million letter of credit to get the ball rolling on Live Aid 1985

According to Newsweek, the benefit "superconcert" reportedly cost USD400,000 to set up in London, and USD3.7 million in the US. 

Worldwide Sports and Entertainment, a company co-founded by Krishnan and Michael Mitchell (who oversaw planning for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles), was also contracted to organise and execute Live Aid 1985.

Krishnan is said to have been inspired by Live Aid 1985's breakthrough in broadcast and satellite technology, spurring him into building a multimedia empire in the early 1990s

In addition to his oil and gas business (Bumi Armada and Pexco), a bulk of the billionaire's wealth comes from business interests in his media and telecommunications empire, which includes Maxis Communications, MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems (Astro's parent company), as well as several telecommunications company overseas. 

He also held stakes in Tanjong Public Limited Company, an investment holding company involved in power generation (Powertek), gaming (Pan Malaysia Pools), leisure (tropical islands and TGV Cinemas), and property (67% Maxis Tower).

Have you seen Bohemian Rhapsody? What did you think of the Live Aid 1985 sequence? Let us know in the comments section below!

Did you realise that these scenes were cut from the local release?

One thing for sure, we can all agree that lead actor Rami Malek was spot-on as legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury:

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