memories of the ’80s – Heathers

In the late 1980s, two very well-known teen stars made a film about the girls’ clique and how to battle it in the film Heathers.

Starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, the film is about three young women of Westerburg High School who rule the school – a cheerleader, a bookworm and the leader, all named Heather.

Ryder plays Veronica, who gets invited to become friends with the Heathers but soon realizes she doesn’t like the trio and  misses her friends. Slater plays JD, an outsider who taunts bullies and keeps to himself, but attracts the attention of Veronica.

After embarrassing one of the Heathers at a party and being told off, Veronica enlists the help of JD to get back at the trio and proceeds to teach them all lessons in revenge. In the end its a battle of Heathers, Veronica and the very unstable JD.

Written by Daniel Waters, the film was a three hour epic that was rewritten to become a 102 minute dark comedy. Released in March 1989, the film did badly at the box office, barely making $1.1 million in its release, with a budget of $2 million.

But in VHS, the film became a cult classic, and the movie has since made many lists of one of the better highschool teen films of the decade despite its very dark ending.

memories of the ’80s – Farm Aid

A few months after the memorable concert for Live Aid, three performers decided to try another concert to help American farmers: Farm Aid.

After hearing Bob Dylan say from the stage of Live Aid that farmers needed help to survive, musicians Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson planned the concert, for September 25, 1985 in Champaign, Illinois.

Joined by heavyweight musicians such as Dylan, Billy Joel, BB King, Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell, Glen Campbell, Randy Newman and Tom Petty and the Hearbreakers, the organizers knew the inaugural concert was going to be a success.

The first concert had an audience of 80,000 and made over US$9 million for farmers, to help survive mortgage debt issues, that were a result of several bad years of the economy towards farmers.

Other notable names that appeared at the first Farm Aid included Kris Kristofferson, Alabama, Rickie Lee Jones, Carole King, Arlo Guthrie, Eddie Van Halen, Vince Gill, Emmy Lou Harris, Foreigner, Daryl Hall and Loretta Lynn.

But unlike previous concerts that were fixated on one-off creations for charity, Farm Aid became an annual event. which has moved from city to city across the US, showing support for farmers, and organizations to help them through debt and drought and provide legal and psychological support.




memories of the ’70s – The Concert for Bangladesh

In 1971, a war and devastation in a country barely known in North America became the focus of concerts that helped raised money and awareness – The Concert for Bangladesh.

East Pakistan was struggling to become independent during 1970-71 liberation war, while the Bhola cyclone hit the area in November 1970. These two events caused the displacement of seven million people, refugees trying to survive the effects of war and famine.

Musician Ravi Shankar, working with former Beatle George Harrison on an album, expressed his anger and horror at the unfolding crisis in East Pakistan (colonial name prior to Bangladesh).

Harrison and Shankar read an article in London’s Sunday Times, showing the horrible conditions and atrocities that were happening and decided to do something to raise awareness, and support the people’s independence.

With three months of planning, George Harrison called on his well-known musician pals to create The Concert for Bangladesh, two concerts on Sunday August 1, 1971 at New York City’s Madison Square Gardens.

Mixing traditional Indian music with contemporary pop, the concert started with Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, traditional Indian musicians, and then was a well-known list of American and Brit performers – Harrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and the band Badfinger.

The headliners were backed by a nine member band, the six member Hollywood Horns and seven back-up singers – plus two well-known Indian musicians.

The two sold out shows, with 40,000 people attending, became the first well-known concert done for charity. Shankar had hoped to raise $25,000 for refugees. UNICEF, who helped administer the money, benefitted with $250,000 raised from the concerts.

NME described the concerts as the “greatest rock spectacle of the decade” since this was the first time two ex-Beatle members had graced the stage together and with the appearance of Dylan, who had quit touring.

A triple-live album The Concert for Bangladesh, recorded by Phil Spector, was released in December 1971/January 1972, which became a bestseller on the charts.

Controversy did strike this project – as there was no tax-exempt status for the project, buying the album or eventual video of concerts, which led to many problems with proper distribution of funds to the charity, as it was held in escrow until taxes were assessed and paid.

All money was eventually channeled through the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF, which continues to benefit from sales of the album and concert film to this day, and these concerts are credited with being the first time pop music took a stand to help those in need on such a large scale.