Where do I start with this one. One of the highlights of my career and
a very special day. Never thought it would turn out to be such a historical
event. I was living in Australia by this time but was actually in Los
Angeles when I got the call from Elton's tour manager at the time Nick
Pitts Elton wanted me to come over and light his part of the concert.
I contacted Pete at the lighting company who was supplying the lights
of the show. I forget Pete's name and his company name at the time but
he was and probably still is a well know Irish character in London.
I caught Pete just as he was on his way to a meeting at Paul McCartney's
office. I asked him what other Lighting Designers were doing the show.
I was told I was it. So far there was only me. No other acts were bringing
in anyone to do their lights.
Paul McCartneys assistant and Production Manager at the time was a friend
of mine Trevor Jones. So I mentioned to Pete that I would be happy to
light Paul's part of the show if they wanted. So he put that idea forward
at his meeting.
The Lighting Design was actually done by committee headed up by Jimmy
Barnet if my memory is correct. Bruce Springsteen had played some concerts
at Wembley the week before so they used the same lighting equipment.
Jimmy and crew just rearranged it into something a bit different for
When I arrived in the UK we rehearsed with Elton out at Bray Studios
near Windsor. I found out George Michael was doing some songs with Elton.
I had met George a few times before as he was friendly with Elton so
I was looking forward to hearing them sing together. I remember very
well the first time they played through the whole of " Don't Let
The Sun Go Down On Me " without any stopping to correct something.
Elton was blown away by George's rendition. It was a good moment I will
always remember it was pure magic. George was a big Elton fan over the
years. I still think that first time was the best they ever did that
song together. Even better than the version they released as a live
single a few years later. The energy in the room was very special for
those rehearsals. A taste of what was about to unfold at the Concert
I arrived at Wembley Stadium on Friday about lunchtime the day before
the concert. I did not leave there until 6 a. m. on the morning of the
show after an all night programming session putting together the looks
that would be used during the show. When I arrived at Wembley I met
with Jimmy and Pete and Shawn Richardson who was the VeriLight Programmer
I think. At that time I was only lighting Elton and George and was still
the only Lighting Designer doing the show. Elton was on at nigh time.
Most of the other acts were on during the day. I think David Bowie ended
up bringing someone in even though he was performing while it was still
daylight. Knowing what a showman Bowie is that should come as no surprise.
There were a couple of different people who ran lights for some of the
acts during the day. Sorry can't remember who they were.
My first pleasant surprise of the day happened when another friend and
acquaintance of mine showed up. Roger Searl who for Live Aid was wearing
two hats. One as Production Manager and the other as Lighting Designer
both for " The Who " I just remember Roger coming over to
me on stage on Friday afternoon and saying to me " Glad your here
Percy ( My nickname to those who know me well ) Do me a favour ! Do
the lights for The Who for me. I have too much to deal with looking
after the band " I of course said " No Problem " and
Roger walked away and I lit The Who at Live Aid. While Roger ended up
refereeing the Who Backstage Boxing Match if I remember.
Now this was no real flashy fancy lighting rig just a nice workmanlike
functional system put together on a budget. What was really nice about
the whole thing was how everyone just worked together to make it happen.
A bunch of professionals just getting it done. There were still a few
nice looks in there when it got dark enough to see the lighting.
About 30 minutes after my Who surprise Trevor Jones tracks me down onstage
and tells me he needs to talk with me. I follow Trevor backstage somewhere
to the back of the terraces at Wembley, don't think it was even an office
or dressing room. Anyway next thing I know Trevor is handing me a phone
and telling me I needed to talk to Paul. " Your Kidding me ! "
was what went through my mind.
I can't remember too much of the conversation as I was so surprised
to be talking to Paul McCartney on the phone. No mistaking the voice
on the other end of the line. I am not a very Star Struck person having
met and worked with a lot of famous people. I also had worked for Paul
on several tours and concerts during the seventies so I had met him
several times before. A very nice man he is too. Linda was also a very
nice woman. Having said all of that I have to be Honest with you at
that moment I was just a little boy from a small Village in Scotland.
A boy who at one point in his life was never expected to do anything
except have a life in the factories.
Here I was talking to a Beatle and that Beatle was asking ME what I
thought he should do for the Concert. I kid you not. He was asking me
all kinds of things that I was really not sure how to respond I was
in awe I think. One thing I did do and it has made me cringe for years.
I am not really sure if I can claim responsibility for this or not but
I have blamed myself for years. I do remember him asking me how he should
start his performance. I suppose he was throwing ideas out there as
much as asking questions.
Anyway one thing I suggested to him and I think this was an option he
had put out there himself. I honestly can't remember but I certainly
remember telling him he should just walk out unannounced and start playing.
I really liked that idea for some reason, even now. ( In fact U2 did
it a couple of tours back to great effect. They even kept the house
lights up. It was brilliant. ) So come the time for him to play and
he was using Elton's Piano. Paul walks out unannounced and starts playing
the piano. I think he does most of the first verse of " Let it
Be " in the Dark and in silence as Paul or nobody else ever bothered
to let us know he was going out there to play. I just remember being
screamed at on the headsets from stage. HE''S PLAYING ! HE''S PLAYING
That one backfired ! So to this day I am not sure if I can claim that
one as my own or not. You win some you lose some and if you are going
to mess up it might as well be with one of the most Famous People in
the World at what has turned out to be The Biggest Concert in The History
of Rock N Roll. Good one Peacock ! All captured on the DVD as well.
Anyway that bit of embarrassment did not really put much of a damper
on what was really a wonderful day. I ended up lighting. The Who, George
Michael, Elton John, Kiki Dee, Paul McCartney and the Finally with everyone.
I had some help on the Finally which kinds of sums up the whole atmosphere
of the day and the way everyone worked with each other. It truly was
a joint effort from a lot of people. At some point while i was running
the show from out front I remember the young guy who was doing the lighting
for Bob Geldorf and Boomtown Rats at the time. I will always remember
this. He says to me " Mr Geldorf has asked me to ask Mr. Peacock
if it is all right for me to run the lights for the finally. Which he
A perfect way to end a remarkable day.