It’s Been Thirty-Five Years Since “We Are The World”
On January 28, 1985, dozens of pop, rock and country music stars spent almost all night recording a song written by Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, and Michael Jackson. The events leading up to the writing and recording of the song, "We Are the World", was actually initiated by singer/actor/activist Harry Belafonte. Belafonte, inspired by the recent success of Band-Aid's, "Do They Know it's Christmas?", was looking for help to organize an American response to African famine relief.
Quincy Jones realized that the recording session should be held the night of the American Music Awards in order to get as many superstars as possible together in one place. As soon as the American Music Awards show wrapped at 10 pm, the musicians departed to the recording studio just a few miles away. Jones only had one set of instructions for the superstars and that was to "Check your egos at the door".
Artists invited to participate included, but were not limited to, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Journey's Steve Perry, Huey Lewis(and members of the News), Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Hall & Oates, the Pointer Sisters, Fleetwood Mac's Lindsay Buckingham, Kenny Loggins, Kim Carnes, Al Jarreau, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, James Ingram, Dionne Warwick, Billy Joel, and obviously, Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson.
All in all, 45 musicians and singers performed on the song with more than 50 being turned away because there was no more room either in the studio OR in the song itself. And by the way, do you know who always gets forgotten about when talk is made of USA For Africa? The backing band who performed for this wonderful cast? None other than "Rosanna" and "Africa" hitmakers...Toto.
The "We Are the World" single ended up selling over 20 million copies. Plus, combined with album and other merchandise(posters, t-shirts, etc.)sales, over $63 million was raised for hunger relief and humanitarian aid. If you want to surf the waves of nostalgia, check out the video here. And the basic underlying message of "We Are the World" is even more prescient today. People coming together to help out for the common good. Amazingly good things can come out of that. Happy Anniversary!