RUSSELL LEADBETTER, Herald Scotland
It was one of the largest concerts of all time and raised £40 million for famine relief in Ethiopia, winning plaudits for its masterminds Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure.
Now Scots musician Ure has voiced his anger at claims that Live Aid in 1985 – watched by 400 million people in 60 countries – had funds siphoned off to buy weapons for rebel groups in the country.
The 56-year-old broke his silence on the allegation contained in a BBC World Service report.
Speaking at the launch of CCW Long Play, a specialist management company aimed at musicians, Ure spoke out after he was asked how so many millions of starving Africans had been fed on the equivalent of just 5% of the funds raised.
He said: “There’s not a lot I can say about it just now because we’re looking at litigation. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if what is being claimed, that only 5% of the money has got through, what I would like to know is, what is the secret?
“If we tell all the aid agencies how to keep that many people alive and sustained on just 5% of the monies raised, it seems an awful lot of money, or we would be able to save a lot more people.
“It just doesn’t equate, it just doesn’t add up, and it was spurious guff that was out there. It wasn’t accusations, it was implication, and with absolutely no evidence. We have worked hand in hand with every major aid agency and they’re all standing by us and telling us that this is absolute b*******, really.”
Geldof has threatened to sue the corporation and called for the dismissals of the reporter involved, the head of World Service news and current affairs, and the director of the BBC World Service. He wrote: “We will … take a view on what legal action we may take both against the journalist in question and World Service in general.”
Ure hopes that his role as a director of CCW Long Play, would allow him to help unravel the legal and managerial “spaghetti that has been endemic in the music industry”. Fellow director Ronnie Gurr told how he had seen many acts signing contracts “that effectively sign away rights for the length of their careers.”
The new company will provide musicians with business, legal and creative advice, and potential financial investment. It also has access to external producers, live booking agents and tour managers.
Ure, 56, who himself is about to launch Tunited, an online digital resource for new and emerging artists, said: “Ronnie told me what they were trying to do at CCW … offering a management deal, all of that stuff, but without getting artists completely embroiled and tied up that has you manacled for the next 20 years.
“It just seemed to make absolute sense. I liked the idea of getting involved in something that doesn’t make you end up paying your first manager, from 10 years before, for the rest of your life. That is how management deals used to be.
He added: “The nature of the artist is that they will sign anything, because somebody is paying attention to them. It’s the first step towards the fantasy they have in their heads, so you will actually sign anything, which is what I did back in the early days.
“My first record deal was hideous but it was great at the same time, because it was the only one I was ever going to get offered in Glasgow. You kind of live to regret it, if you’re sensible about it.”
Ure said he had been lucky in that he had always surrounded himself with good management and advisors, but added: “I remember when I was in Rich Kids and was just about to join Ultravox. I was still tied into a contract that I had done with Rich Kids three years before. The technicalities of that could have stopped me joining Ultravox, but luckily they released me from my contract, even though [Rich Kids] didn’t exist any more.
“That is what happens. You sign with four of your mates and you think it’s fantastic, until the band breaks up and you realise you’re signed not as a band but as an ind