Some of the best-known recording artists in the world gathered in the recording studio today (January 28, 1985), to record the best-selling single, “We Are The World.”
“We Are The World” was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones.
The charity song was recorded by 45 of the best-known musicians in the world, known as “USA For Africa.”
The concept for “USA For Africa” started when Harry Belafonte wanted to have a song recorded by famous artists in the music industry, with the aim of donating the proceeds to an organization, to feed starving people in Ethiopia.
“After you see the pictures and hear the voices of those people, it’s very hard to sleep, and it’s very hard to go on with business as usual,” Harry Belafonte said, after watching a film on the plight of the people of sub-Saharan Africa
Harry Belafonte contacted Lionel Richie’s manager, who also managed Kenny Rogers, and the pair agreed to work on the song.
Soon afterwards Stevie Wonder became involved and Quincy Jones was hired to produce the song, despite the fact that he was working on the film “The Color Purple.”
Michael Jackson was riding high off of the success of Thriller, when he was contacted by Lionel Richie to help write “We Are The World.”
In less than a week, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie had come up with the melody and lyrics to “We Are The World.”
The “USA For Africa” artists were in A&M Recording Studios in Los Angeles, after the American Music Awards had taken place.
Michael Jackson was the first to lay down his vocals, until the other artists began filing in around 10:00 PM.
The session was conducted by Quincy Jones, while dozens of artists, including Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Steve Perry, Daryl Hall, Bob Dylan, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Harry Belafonte, Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson, Billy Joel, James Ingram, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen and others laid down there verses and choruses for the song.
“Everybody couldn’t believe that they were all in the room together that night,” Quincy Jones told reporters. “The synergy was so strong – really powerful synergy.”
“We Are The World” was released on March 7, 1985 and immediately went to the top of the Pop charts.
The song went on to sell over 20 million copies and earn well over $100 million in humanitarian aid for Africa and the United States.
Waxfact: In April 1985, over 8,000 stations broadcast “We Are The World” simultaneously around the world.