Some of the biggest names in western rock and pop music came together in London and Philadelphia on this day in 1985, to raise money for famine-hit African nations at the concerts known as Live Aid

The biggest television audience in history - over 1.5 billion people in more than 160 countries - tuned into watch the 16 hours of music broadcast live from Wembley and the JFK Stadium, organised by Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof.

The Live Aid concerts followed from the success of the single Do They Know It’s Christmas?, written and produced by Geldof and Midge Ure and featuring a host of British chart talent under the name Band Aid, which was released in December 1984 and eventually raised £8 million for the cause.

[Read more: November 25 - Band Aid stars gather to record Do They Know It's Christmas?]

The London event began at 12.00 BST in front of special guests Prince Charles and Princess Diana with a performance by veteran rockers Status Quo, who launched into their singalong anthem Rocking All Over The World.

Other acts appearing at Wembley in front of a 72,000 crowd included Queen, David Bowie, and The Who, reformed specially for the event; U2, not yet global superstars, played a career-enhancing set. The show finished at 10pm with the entire line-up singing the Band Aid single.

George Michael, Bob Geldof, David Bowie and Bono lead a chorus of Do They Know It's Christmas at the finale of Live Aid.

100,000 attended the Philadelphia show which began at 8.51am local time, and featured major artists including Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Madonna, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and the surviving members of Led Zeppelin.

Phone lines were set up across both countries for people to call to pledge money, and appeals were made throughout the concerts – most notably by Geldof himself, who swore live on BBC TV during an impassioned plea for further donations.

Through ticket sales, broadcast rights, purchases of the DVD and charity donations, the Live Aid concerts are estimated to have raised £150 million for famine relief in Africa. Organiser Geldof was awarded an honorary knighthood in 1986.