1990: Farm Aid IV links farming, environmental causes

Posted at 5:30 AM, Sep 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-21 10:22:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The roots of Farm Aid were first planted during a benefit concert of a different name when Bob Dylan tossed out the idea of playing a concert to benefit American farmers during Live Aid in 1985.

It was something Willie Nelson, Neil Young and native Hoosier John Mellencamp embraced. The trio planned the first Farm Aid concert which was held in Champagne, IL, on Sept. 22, 1985.

Farm Aid IV came to the Hoosier Dome on April 7,1990.

Farm Aid IV
Fans fill the Hoosier Dome for Farm Aid IV in April 1990.

Nearly 50,000 fans attended the 12-hour show that featured acts like Garth Brooks, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Guns N' Roses. They were joined by Young, Mellencamp, and Nelson, who kicked off the show.

Willie Nelson Farm Aid IV
Willie Nelson greets fans from stage of Farm Aid IV

For the first time, supporters linked farming and environmental causes.

“When we restore the honor and sanctity of the family farmer, in conjunction with earth day, which is not just lip service and not just one event,” Bonnie Raitt said. “We restore the sanctity and honor of Mother Earth herself. I’m proud to be here.”

“If you just think about [it], a guy can’t even get a loan unless he puts chemicals all over his land,” Neil Young said. “That’s the truth. We’ve got a lot of things to fight, and we’re not backing down.”

Farm Aid returned to central Indiana in 2001. The concert was hosted at Verizon Wireless Music Center, now known as Ruoff Music Center. It’s the same venue that will host Farm Aid again this weekend.

2001: Farm Aid returns to central Indiana