Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute
"Mandela Day was written in five minutes, such a lovely tune. It's more about a sentiment. Political songs have to
have memorable tunes. We thought everyone taking part in the concert was going to write something. I donít know what happened to everyone else's songs but we
are glad that ours is still out there and is still symbolic of that time."
The band were joined by Johnny Marr for Summertime Blues,
Peter Gabriel for Biko and both
Gabriel and Little Steven for Sun City. They also
had a new percussion player - who, to my knowledge, has never been named.
There was a false start before Biko. It looked like they expected
Gabriel to walk on during the intro. Instead, there was a slight confused pause, before Jim
introduced Gabriel to cheers. There were one or two mistakes in the
song as well, understandable as Gabriel had been unable to attend
rehearsals and was singing it with Simple Minds for the first time.
The BBC's coverage wasn't kind to Simple Minds as the show had overrun, and the broadcaster had
several difficult choices to make with their scheduling. They decided to run the news, so those watching the
TV missed Sanctify Yourself. The broadcast came back in during the intro
to East At Easter. And it looked like the BBC were going to pull
the plug at the start of Sun City, rolling the end credits over the
start of the song, and mentioning the radio stations who were still broadcasting - before electing to broadcast the
Footage from the Minds' performance was later incorporated into the
Mandela Day promotional video.
Production Crew pass for the day. (Assumed to be for Simple Minds
as it has "S.M. 61" written on the back).
Another pass for the gig.
Wembley Stadium, London, UK
11th June 1988
Summertime Blues /
Mandela Day /
Sanctify Yourself /
East At Easter -
Alive And Kicking /
"When Jim asked me about playing [Biko] on
Mandela Day, I was pleased.I wanted it to be hard by such a large
audience who would be focusing their attention on what was going on in South Africa and I knew that I would not
be able to get my own band assembled. I was a little nervous as I had had no time for rehearsal. But when I stood up
on the stage, surrounded by all those familiar faces, the song began, and I felt the strength of their
arrangement and their commitment. It is a moment I will not forget." - Peter Gabriel - Street Fighting Years book.
BS: Now, it was a real kind of landmark in every respect,
because Mandela was a bit of a political hot potato, he was still in Robin Island, you got the call from Jerry Dammers of
The Specials, who was putting the show together. What do you remember of that day
Jim? Because, again, when you look at the bill: Sting, Eurythmics, Joe Cocker, ...
JK: Stevie Wonder.
BS: Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Dire Straits. I mean it was a real special moment. The very fact that the
BBC broadcast it live was driving the Tory government crazy at the time. So, what do you remember of that day? Did you think it could make a
difference? By shining the spotlight on Mandela, it was going to have some real lasting benefit?
JK: Well, you remember the context. The thing was inspired by Live Aid because Live Aid was the
first big - well, Woodstock was - but Live Aid was the first real focussed... but Live Aid was a charity concert.
The Mandela concert was not a charity concert and it's amazing, as we seen now, that the
BBC went with it because it was a rallying call, it was making a political point. I mean when people think of Mandela now, they imagine
that lovely granddad with the grey hair and all those shirts and the big smile, arguably at the end the most popular man on the planet.
JK: However, at the time of the concert, a lot of the governments of the world were referring to him as a terrorist and he was still in jail.
That was the whole point. So there was an anger in me - there was a definite - certainly the acts were there for genuine reasons. There was a point to prove.
There was a rallying cry. And we'd been influenced by great artists like Peter Gabriel, Steven Van Zandt, and there was the generation
before that, Dylan, Springsteen - people like that, people who weren't afraid to use their popularity to, as you said, shine a light on a
bigger cause. And so we were well up for that. And when I think about it now, every generation has its moments in time, and for our generation, that summer,
the year after the Berlin wall came down, Apartheid ended, the cold war ended, they were great times to be young and great times to be an artist in.
And we used some of that.
Interview with Billy Sloan
BBC Radio Scotland
2nd November 2019