Charlie Sloth

On Air Now 16:00 – 17:45

What happened in 1985

  • In the UK it was a year of racial unrest. Riots broke out in the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, triggered by the death of Cynthia Jarrett. She collapsed after four policemen burst into her home on a raid. PC Blakelock was murdered during the riot by a machete-wielding gang. His colleague PC Richard Coombes was also attacked and never returned to the force. Read more
  • There were also riots in Peckham, Brixton, Birmingham, Coventry, Bristol, Liverpool and Wolverhampton. The Brixton riots broke out after police accidentally shot and injured a suspect's mother in her own bed. The Liverpool disturbances were triggered by the court case of four men accused of a stabbing. Read more
  • The South African government repealed Apartheid laws that outlawed inter-racial marriage or sexual relations.
  • Muhammad Ajeeb became the UK's first black Lord Mayor. He was installed as Lord Mayor of Bradford.
  • Bob Geldof organised Live Aid: two massive concerts to raise money for starving people in Ethopia. Two massive events were held in London and Philadelphia and raised up to £50 million. US artists including Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Willie Nelson, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder recorded the song We Are The World for charity. Released under the name USA For Africa, the single was a huge hit. The accompanying album sold three million copies and the project raised $50 million for families in Africa.
  • Bernie Grant was appointed as Britain's first black council leader in Haringay.
  • Under political pressure the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) created Parental Advisory stickers for explicit content on rap albums.
  • Quincy Jones debuts as a filmmaker when he co-produced Steven Speilberg's adaptation of Alice Walker's The Color Purple. The film got 11 Oscar nominations and introduced Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey to more audiences.
  • In-ear headphones, CD-ROMs, Hi-8 camcorders and taxis with carphones hit the streets of the UK.

In the music

  • Whitney Houston released her eponymous debut album. It topped the US charts and went on to sell 13 million copies.
  • The first fully digital reggae single, Wayne Smith's Under Me Sleng Teng, was recorded at Prince Jammy's studio. It marked the beginning of ragga style reggae.
  • Michael Jackson purchased the publishing rights for most of the Beatles' music for $47 million, much to the dismay of the surviving members of the band.
  • LL Cool J released his debut album Radio. It was the first LP to be released on Def Jam and peaked at No 6 in the US RnB chart.
  • A wax likeness of Michael Jackson was unveiled at London's Madame Tussauds wax museum
  • Eric B. & Rakim met and began making music together. Within a year their debut single would be a street anthem.
  • Russell Simmons ventured into films with Krush Groove starring Melle Mel, LL Cool J, Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, Run DMC and Beastie Boys. It fictionally recounted the birth of Def Jam records.
  • Smiley Culture released his follow up to Cockney Translations the top 20 hit Police Officer.
  • Loose Ends reached No 1 in the US RnB charts with Hangin' on a String.
  • The UK's Five Star release their debut album Luxury of Life scoring two chart hits and receiving a good response from both the UK and US.

Key Releases



Grammy awards


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