Sunday, February 25, 2024

Various Artists - Prince's Trust Rock Gala, Wembley Arena, London, Britain, 6-5-1987

I just posted the Prince's Trust concert from 1986. This is the 1987 concert. It's the same basic idea, but many of the songs and performers are different. Both are very worthwhile listens.

Like the 1986 concert, this one started with some newer musical acts. With the benefit of hindsight, some were good choices, and others... not so much (cough cough, Curiosity Killed the Cat and Go West, cough cough). But if you don't like all the artists, that's okay, because none of the first few acts lasted more than a single song.

There were fewer big name artists in this concert than the 1986 one. Plus, the entire concert was about half an hour shorter. (If, in fact, this is the whole thing - I'm not entirely sure.) But on the other hand, the finale was probably even more impressive. I'll get to that in a minute.

First though, I want to point out that, like the 1986 concert, for many of the songs, there was a backing band made up of many stars. I don't know which songs exactly, because I can't find the full video of this concert on YouTube. But, for instance, when Ben E. King sang his song, his backing band included Phil Collins on drums, Midge Ure on rhythm guitar, and Eric Clapton on lead guitar.

But the big deal was the finale. In the 1986, the biggest star was ex-Beatle Paul McCartney. But the 1987 concert outdid that by having two ex-Beatles performing together: George Harrison and Ringo Starr! Harrison's appearance was a particularly big deal because he hadn't performed in concert since his 1974 tour (other than a couple of brief appearances in the finales of other artist's concerts). 

I randomly stumbled across a description of the concert's finale in a 2015 article in Guitar World Magazine. Here it is:

"On June 5, 1987, three of the five original musicians who appeared on the classic Beatles 'White Album' track 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' reunited to perform the song live at the Prince's Trust Rock Gala in London's Wembley Arena. George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Eric Clapton were joined in an all-star U.K. band, including Elton John, Phil Collins, Jeff Lynne, Ray Cooper, and... well, if you're wondering who that understandably happy bassist is, it's Mark King from Level 42. Harrison, Starr, and Clapton last performed the song live 16 years earlier at the Concert for Bangladesh in New York City. What most interesting about this performance is the fact that A., the normally Strat-happy Clapton is playing a beautiful Gibson Les Paul, just as he did on the original 1968 recording, and B., the also-Strat-happy Harrison joins Clapton in the extended guitar solo at the end of the song. The two guitarists trade solos and feed off each other's energy, and their intertwining lines are often pretty damn cool."

In addition to that, someone, I'm guessing Clapton, played a guitar solo for "With a Little Help from My Friends," a song that normally lacked any solo. It's a shame that Jeff Lynne apparently didn't sing any of his Electric Light Orchestra hits. But he sang backing vocals on all three of the Beatles songs at the end. Given that Lynne is a huge Beatles fan, this must have been the closest he ever got to a fantasy of being a part of the Beatles, getting to sing with Harrison and Starr, with Clapton on guitar for good measure!

This album is an hour and 45 minutes long.

01 Running in the Family (Level 42 with Eric Clapton)
02 If I Was (Midge Ure)
03 Misfit (Curiosity Killed the Cat)
04 Don't Look Down (Go West)
05 Invisible (Alison Moyet)
06 Through the Barricades (Spandau Ballet)
07 So Strong (Labi Siffre)
08 Run to You (Bryan Adams)
09 Hearts on Fire (Bryan Adams)
10 Somebody (Bryan Adams)
11 talk (Dave Edmunds & Bryan Adams)
12 The Wanderer (Dave Edmunds & Bryan Adams)
13 talk (Eric Clapton)
14 Wonderful Tonight (Eric Clapton)
15 Behind the Mask (Eric Clapton)
16 Stand by Me (Ben E. King)
17 talk (Phil Collins)
18 Reach Out, I'll Be There - I Can't Help Myself - Same Old Song (Phil Collins & Paul Young)
19 You've Lost That Loving Feeling (Phil Collins & Paul Young)
20 talk (Elton John)
21 Your Song (Elton John)
22 Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting (Elton John)
23 talk (George Harrison & Ringo Starr)
24 While My Guitar Gently Weeps (George Harrison & Eric Clapton with Ringo Starr & Jeff Lynne)
25 Here Comes the Sun (George Harrison with Ringo Starr & Jeff Lynne)
26 With a Little Help from My Friends (Ringo Starr with George Harrison, Eric Clapton & Jeff Lynne)

I searched the Internet pretty thoroughly for a color version of the group photo from this concert. All I could find was a black and white version. I tinted it blue. If anyone can find the color version, please let me know so I can upgrade this. There are way too many people in the photo for me to try to make a colorized version.


  1. I remember having the vinyl album of this concert way back when and endlessly playing WMGGW - possibly the best EVER live version of this track! And then to find it on Youtube and see EC go "into the zone" on his solo is just mesmeric. The only other other time I saw him do this was on "Concert For George" on the same song. Must be some unexplained magic that George sprinkled on the music!
    Chris Field

  2. Thanks, sound like an exciting gig. Only thing which would have made it better was also getting Prince (or formally known as..) to perform :)

    1. I get it if that's a joke about Prince's name and the title of gig. But I should point out this was a British thing and most everyone performing was British, so it's no surprise Prince wasn't there. (True, you had Bryan Adams and Ben E. King, but I'd guess they happened to be in town anyway.)