A walk down memory lane. Read the ten most amazing facts about the hit single “We Are the World”
‘We are the world’ is one of the most significant songs in music history recorded by a collaborative group of more than 40 famous artistes from all genres of music. However, apart from being an exceptionally unique song, there were some incredible facts surrounding the recording that made it stand out as an exclusive number. Incidentally ‘we are the world’ was recorded for charity for Africa and written by none other than Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. As Hollywood celebrated the song’s 31st anniversary in Jan, here are 10 amazing facts about “We Are the World”.
1 “We Are the World” Was Recorded Immediately After the American Music Awards
The American Music Awards were held on 28 Jan 1985. It was immediately after that; that the final recording took place in A & M studios. Over 40 well known artistes gathered there including Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper , Hall & Oates, Bruce Springsteen, Huey Lewis, Tina Turner, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, The Pointer sisters and Lionel Richie who had just hosted and won five awards at the AMA. Richie claimed he had never experienced such a gathering in his life. “The group of people in that room was so mind-changing. There were Bob Dylan, Billy Joel — give me a freaking break.”
2 “We Are the World” Was Inspired By the UK Charity Single ‘Do They Know Its Christmas’
Another great hit single had just been recorded a few months earlier in 1984 by a multi star collaboration, lead by Sir Bob Geldof. Calling themselves Band-Aid they released the iconic song “Do they know it’s Christmas”. Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie went on to pen their own version for charity. Produced by Quincy Jones, “We Are the World” raised about $ 75 million for the organization ‘USA for Africa.’ The song won three Grammy awards for record and song of the year in 1986. It also reached quadruple platinum certification, selling 20 million copies globally making it the highest selling single of the 1980s.
3 It wasn’t Michael Jackson but Stevie Wonder who was supposed to co-author the song
Lionel Richie couldn’t contact Stevie Wonder for the song as he was on tour at the time. It was then that Quincy Jones suggested Michael. Richie and Michael then wrote the song hoping that Stevie Wonder might join-in later, but he couldn’t.
4 Both Michael and Richie Were Inspired By Listening To National Anthems
According to Lionel Richie, they wanted a song that sounded like an anthem. It wasn’t meant to be an ordinary song. It was supposed to be unique and remarkable. ‘Bombastic’ were his words which were supposed to be having a global appeal. And that’s exactly what they created; a legend of a song!
5 Some Of The Celebrities Had No Idea When It Was Supposed To Take Place
Almost all the celebs involved came in their own Limousines having just finished at the American Music Awards, however some didn’t really know the date like Bruce Springsteen who came in a truck and parked it outside the grocery store opposite. Had the recording been held in this era the logistics would have been extremely difficult as it could never have been a secret.
6 Some of the singers hadn’t even heard the song
In those days there were no MP3s but cassettes. As a result, most artistes hadn’t even heard the song. Richie and Jackson had just only finished tracking the single at Kenny Rogers’s studio a week before. Even Rogers hadn’t heard the song. “We didn’t know what we were going to sing until that night,” he said.
7 Bob Dylan Was Actually Nervous About His Solo
Oates, who stood behind Dylan during the recording commented that Dylan was very nervous about his lines “There’s a choice we’re making”. Richie remembers Dylan asking him how he wanted him to sound. Oates said, “I think he felt uncomfortable singing that particular melody, and he worked around it in his own way.”
8 Ray Charles Was the Man to Keep Everyone in Tow
Ray Charles had a personality that commanded respect. Despite the fact that he never asserted his authority and just stood quietly, ready to do his thing, once in a while he would voice his opinion which created a sense of discipline among those present. According to Oates, there were times when some artistes started voicing their suggestions to which Charles commented that as it was Michael and Richie’s show, everyone should listen to them and get the job done. That would silence everyone or else it would have become a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
9 Kenny Rogers Wanted To Get Everybody’s Autograph
Kenny Rogers felt after the show that they had just created something very special. He took one of the music sheets and started asking artistes to autograph it. Diana Ross started and then everyone followed. The sheet is now framed and hangs in Kenny Roger’s house in Atlanta. Oates, too got a similar sheet done and hung it in his own studio in Colorado
10 The Recording Took 9 And a Half Hours
The recording for “We are the world” began at 10.30 pm and ended at 8 am. Apart from the 21 soloists which included famous performers like Cyndi Lauder, Kenny Loggins, Bob Dylan, Daryl Hall and Stevie Wonder, several noted and famous artistes formed the chorus lineup. Some of these included Bette Milder, Dan Across, Smokey Robinson, Harry Belafonte, La Toya Jackson, Randy Jackson, Richard Pryor, Waylon Jennings and John Oates.
These are the amazing facts about “We Are the World”, which celebrated its 31st anniversary this year and the only regrettable factor of such a celebration is that one of its pioneers wasn’t there to celebrate. Michael Jackson!!