Farm Aid 30th Anniversary
September 22nd, 1985.
Biggest concert lineup ever.
I have asked my good friend, Joe Alexander, to come on the podcast with me and talk about Farm Aid. Joe has done many things in his past including working for me and he does public speaking, one of his topics right now is Farm Aid, and he also is a sports broadcaster.
Benefit concert to aid farmers in the United States. It all started back stage after the Willie Nelson concert at the Illinois State Fair in 1985.
Joe and I will discuss how it all came about and was pulled off. Joe has talked to numerous people who worked for the University of Illinois at the time and how this all came off in about a 5 to 6 week time frame.
Wasn’t it nice when government used to work. And, all before cell phones.
Here is the list of acts and Joe has been told it was amazing who asked to be included but for whatever reason, mainly time, could not be on the line up card.
The Beach Boys
David Allan Coe
Lacy J. Dalton
Charlie Daniels Band
Merle Haggard and the Strangers
Rickie Lee Jones
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Willie Nelson and Family
Tom Petty and the Haertbreakers
Eddie Van Halen with Sammy Hagar performing Led Zeppelin
Neil Young & International Harvestors
Some of these people did not perform just maybe an actress asking for help. I also have struggled getting a list of performers that actually performed there. Some maybe were scheduled and did not make it? Or possibly played with a friend or the lists are just not accurate.
I did have a friend who had a satellite dish who copied the whole thing, I mean the whole thing, raw feed, on VCR tapes. I even have the part they bleeped out when Sammy Hagar was discussing the habits of tractor pullers. In his book red he said it was because bands like his and Van Halen “owned” the Midwest. He loved playing the fair circuit and he had special words to describe tractor pullers. And yes Eddie Van Halen and Sammy played Led Zeppelin because he said they did not have time to “practice” each other songs. Well, since the Van halen brothers grew up covering Montrose songs, Sammy’s first band, it was really because the record company lawyers had not worked out the details yet.
Well back to Farm Aid. Willie Nelson played the Illinois State Fair. “Big” Jim Thompson was governor of Illinois liked the fair and went to most concerts at the fair. He went back stage and Willie and him talked and Willie I was told said we have to do something for the farmers.
Now this was 1985 right after the Reagan landslide in 1984 and Big Jim was thinking about bigger and better things than governor of Illinois. Can anybody say Iowa and Presidential primary elections. So he had his people get a hold of Willie who had moved on from Illinois to play the Iowa State Fair.
Joe can give us much more detail.
80,000 people general seating, rained for 5 hours, they served beer in Memorial Stadium, limos hauling big time stars all over.
And I just want to say thank you to all who tried to help us farmers and ranchers during the 1980s. From somebody that survived it all I can say is thanks.
Just sit back listen and enjoy this story.
Reach Joe Alexander
@joealex75 or 217.871.8171