35 Years Ago Today: We Are The World Was Recorded

After releasing Thriller!, the biggest album of 1984 Michael Jackson teamed up with Lionel Ritchie and producer Quincy Jones to write We Are The World, a benefit single for famine in Africa. The song raised over $60 Million, which was distributed to Ethiopia, Sudan, and other impoverished countries. The project from conception to recording took about a month. 

The stars who sang solos were, in order, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Al Jarreau, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Daryl Hall, Michael Jackson (again), Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, and Kim Carnes. Bob Dylan and Ray Charles were also featured on the song and given close-ups in the video.

Harry Belafonte, who had the original idea for the project, was in the chorus but didn't get a solo, joining Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson, The Pointer Sisters, LaToya Jackson, Bob Geldof, Sheila E., and Waylon Jennings as backing singers.

The 7-inch single (the radio version) runs 6:22; a 12-inch single running 7:19 was also released. Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie had to make the song this long to accommodate as many vocalists as they could - it was balance between getting as many star solos in and keeping it short enough for airplay.

With 46 of the world's biggest artists and exactly one night to cut a serious record producer, Quincy Jones hung a sign on that read "Check your egos at the door"

This all-star charity single was inspired by Band Aid, the British group Bob Geldof put together the year before to record "Do They Know It's Christmas?." Band Aid, which included Bono, Phil Collins, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, and Sting, served as a template, showing how a disparate group of famous artists could come together in one day to record a song.

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