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WE ARE THE WORLD

37 years ago today, Quincy Jones convened the marathon recording session of "We Are the World". Over 40 artists were involved.
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“Check your egos at the door.” That was Quincy Jones’ special instruction that he sent out to the several dozen pop stars on this day in 1985. He invited them to participate in the recording of “We Are the World”.

Jones was the producer of a record that would eventually go on to sell more than 20 million copies—it’s the eighth best-selling physical single of all time—and raise more than $60 million for African famine relief. But before “We Are the World” could achieve those feats, it had to be captured on tape—no simple feat considering the number of major recording artists slated to participate. With only one chance to get the recording the way he and songwriters Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wanted it, Jones convened the marathon recording session of “We Are the World” at around 10 p.m. on the evening of 28 January 1985, immediately following the conclusion of the American Music Awards ceremony held just a few miles away.

Singer/actor/activist Harry Belafonte was the initiator of the events that led to the recording of “We Are the World”. Inspired by the recent success of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”—the multimillion-selling charity record by the British-Irish collective Band Aid—Belafonte talked Richie, Jackson and Jones into helping him organise an American response under the name USA for Africa.

Pic: Ultimate Classic Rock.
Massive pop icons in one frame, would only happen once in a mil

Among the 45 stars who sang on “We Are the World” that night were Cyndi Lauper, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tina Turner, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, & Bob Dylan.

“Most of us who were there didn’t like the song, but nobody would say so. I think Cyndi Lauper leaned over me & said, ‘It sounds like a Pepsi commercial.’ And I didn’t disagree,” said Billy Joel to Rolling Stone in 2005.

Meanwhile, according to Quincy Jones, Lauper was the only artist who caused a disruption during the recording. “She was fucking up every take because her necklace or bracelet was rattling in the microphone.”

Band Aid | Pic: Mirror
Some of Band Aid main figures | Pic: Metro

Oh, the biggest star not to get an invite to “We Are the World” was Madonna. According to Nile Rodgers she was not invited because some of her peers felt that she did not deserve a spot on its lineup.

We Are the World/USA for Africa Participants

Conductor
• Quincy Jones

Soloists (in order of appearance)
• Lionel Richie
• Stevie Wonder
• Paul Simon
• Kenny Rogers
• James Ingram
• Tina Turner
• Billy Joel
• Michael Jackson
• Diana Ross
• Dionne Warwick
• Willie Nelson
• Al Jarreau
• Bruce Springsteen
• Kenny Loggins
• Steve Perry
• Daryl Hall
• Huey Lewis
• Cyndi Lauper
• Kim Carnes
• Bob Dylan
• Ray Charles

Chorus (alphabetically)
• Dan Aykroyd
• Harry Belafonte
• Lindsey Buckingham
• Mario Cipollina (of Huey Lewis and the News)
• Johnny Colla (of Huey Lewis and the News)
• Sheila E.
• Bob Geldof
• Bill Gibson (of Huey Lewis and the News)
• Chris Hayes (of Huey Lewis and the News)
• Sean Hopper (of Huey Lewis and the News)
• Jackie Jackson
• La Toya Jackson
• Marlon Jackson
• Randy Jackson
• Tito Jackson
• Waylon Jennings
• Bette Midler
• John Oates
• Jeffrey Osborne
• Anita Pointer (of The Pointer Sisters)
• June Pointer (of The Pointer Sisters)
• Ruth Pointer (of The Pointer Sisters)
• Smokey Robinson

Instrument players
• John Barnes – keyboards & arrangement
• David Paich – synthesizers
• Michael Boddicker – synthesizers, programming
• Ian Underwood – synthesizers, programming
• Paulinho da Costa – percussion
• Louis Johnson – synth bass
• Michael Omartian – keyboards
• Greg Phillinganes – keyboards
• John Robinson – drums

Do They Know It’s Christmas/Band Aid Participants

Vocalists
• Robert “Kool” Bell (Kool & the Gang)
• Bono (U2)
• Pete Briquette (The Boomtown Rats)
• Adam Clayton (U2)
• Phil Collins (Genesis and solo artist)
• Chris Cross (Ultravox)
• Simon Crowe (The Boomtown Rats)
• Sara Dallin (Bananarama)
• Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama)
• Johnny Fingers (The Boomtown Rats)
• Bob Geldof (The Boomtown Rats)
• Boy George (Culture Club)
• Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17)
• Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet)
• John Keeble (Spandau Ballet)
• Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet)
• Martin Kemp (Spandau Ballet)
• Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran)
• Marilyn
• George Michael (Wham!)
• Jon Moss (Culture Club)
• Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet)
• Rick Parfitt (Status Quo)
• Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran)
• Francis Rossi (Status Quo)
• Sting (The Police)
• Andy Taylor (Duran Duran)
• James “J.T.” Taylor (Kool & the Gang)
• John Taylor (Duran Duran)
• Roger Taylor (Duran Duran)
• Dennis Thomas (Kool & the Gang)
• Midge Ure (Ultravox)
• Martyn Ware (Heaven 17)
• Jody Watley
• Paul Weller (The Style Council)
• Keren Woodward (Bananarama)
• Paul Young

Additional spoken messages on B-side
• Stuart Adamson, Mark Brzezicki, Tony Butler, Bruce Watson (Big Country)
• David Bowie
• Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
• Paul McCartney

Musicians
• Phil Collins – drums
• John Taylor – bass
• Midge Ure – keyboards and programming

• Read also RYAN ADAMS: SYLVIA PLATH.

━━━━━

Featured image via Totally 80s.

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Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.
Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.

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