Three dozen stars recorded "We Are the World" 30 years ago on January 28, 1985
"We Are the World" was meant to raise money to fight a famine in Africa
Thirty years ago Wednesday, more than three dozen stars – many fresh from the American Music Awards – checked their egos at the door and piled into a recording studio to record “We Are the World.”
The basic tracks for the Lionel Richie-Michael Jackson composition had been done a week earlier, but it was this January 28, 1985, session that counted – the one that included Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Billy Joel and many other of the biggest artists of the day (and, in many cases, of all time).
“We Are the World” was a way to raise money to fight a famine in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa, following in the harmonious path blazed by Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The single, credited to USA for Africa, sold more than 20 million copies and topped the charts for four weeks in April and May.
It was a big deal at the time. Even “Doonesbury’s” Garry Trudeau got involved.
In the decades that have followed, there have been other attempts at all-star charity records and performances, some hugely successful, others all but ignored. (Quincy Jones helmed both the original 1985 record and its remake, a 2010 fund-raiser for Haiti, which wasn’t as big a hit.) The original song – and video – have been widely parodied.
And we won’t even mention “Hands Across America.” (Whoops.)
It was a long time ago, wasn’t it? Check the gallery to see how the soloists fared in the years since.