Feeling Old, Berkshire County? It’s Been 38 Years Since This!
Back in 1985, some folks in the entertainment industry had a great idea to help out with Ethiopian famine relief. What do you say we bring that idea back and update it to reflect 2023? How bout it? Anyone for "USA For Ukraine"?
I know it's hard to believe for many of you but USA For Africa's "We Are The World" was released on March 7, thirty-eight years ago. WOW! I don't know about you, but I definitely feel old...
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", were 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 people talk about USA For Africa? The backing band who performed the music for this wonderful cast? None other than "Rosanna" and "Africa" hitmakers...Toto.
The single for "We Are the World" ended up selling over 20 million copies. Plus, combined with the 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.