The rumor of a possible Beatles reunion obscured the very real history being made at the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea. Kicking off on Dec. 26, 1979, and continuing for four days at the former Hammersmith Odeon in London, the shows were meant to raise money for war-torn Cambodia – which is commonly called Kampuchea in the East. A cool old-school-meets-new-school cast joined co-organizer Paul McCartney, including the Who, Queen, Robert Plant, the Clash, the Pretenders, Elvis Costello and others.
But alas, no Beatles. And back then, the possibility of a comeback utterly dominated the news cycle. McCartney, brought in by then-U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim to spearhead the huge benefit, tried to refocus everyone.
“The Beatles are over and finished with,” McCartney reiterated to The New York Times a few weeks earlier. “None of us is even interested in doing it. There’s lots of reasons. Imagine if we came back and did a big show that wasn’t good. What a drag.”