BootLeg Betty

BetteBack: We Are The World – 1985

Syracuse Herald Journal
Thursday, March 7, 1985

The work to bring together the top poprock recording artisis in the U.S. began before Christmas. Kragen and Belafonte were joined in their effort by Richie and Rogers, who runs an antihunger campaign of his own.

Meanwhile, Kragen was on the phone t r ying to enlist the aid of other artists to record ” We Are the World.” For prod u c e r, he s o u g ht one of the i n d u st ry’s best: J o n e s, who, among other t h i n g s, p r o d u c ed J a c k s o n ‘ s “Thriller.” the biggest selling
a l b um in history.

T he t u r n i n g point. Kragen has said, was when Bruce Springsteen agreed to take part in the recording. “It gave the project a great deal more stature in the eyes of others,” Kragen told People magazine. Jones said it was getting Springsteen and Dylan that thrilled him.

Ironically, another star-studded event preceded the 10-hour, overnight recording session: The American Music Awards.

Boarded limousines

Following the ceremonies on the other side of Los Angeles at the Shrine Auditor i u m, the winners and losers boarded limousines for the ride to A&M Records recording studios. Springsteen had just completed his U.S. tour wi th the E Street Band. He had f l own from Syracuse to Los Angeles to attend the American Music Awards — and then, the marathon recording session.

“I (had) sent ‘them ( the stars) little home cassettes and said, ‘Please learn this and check your egos at the door.’ ” said Jones.

“After all, almost all of them are monster name singers.”

E v e n t u a l ly donning headsets as a onetime superchoir called United Support of A r t i s ts f or A f r i ca (USA f or Af r i c a) were S p r i n g s t e e n, J a c k s o n. J o n e s. R i c h i e, Rogers, Belafonte, Dan Ay k r o y d, Lindsey B u c k i n g h a m, Kim Carnes. Ray Charles, Bub Dylan, Sheila R, Bob Geldof (the Boomtown Rats member who organized the Band Aid recording), Daryl Hall, James Ingram.

Jermaine, Marlon, Jackie, Tito, Randy and LaToya Jackson, Al Jarreau, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper and Huey Lewis and the News (Mario Cipollina, John Colla, Bill Gibson, Chris Hayes and Sean Hopper).

Some didn’t show up

Also, Kenny Loggins. Bette Midler, Wi llie Ne l son. J o hn Gates. J e f f r ey Osborne. Steve Perry, A n i t a, J u ne and R u th Pointer, Smokcy Robinson. Diana Ross. Paul Simon. Tina Turner, Dionne Wa rwi ck and Stevie Wonder.

Some of those invited didn’t show up, like Paul M c C a r t n e y, Barbra S t r e i s a nd a nd Prince, who opted to go to a Los Angeles n i g h t c l u b a f t er t he A m e r i c a n M u s ic Awa r d s. It is there t h at his bodyguards were arrested and charged w i th assaulting two photographers.

But Prince later called the studio, according to Jones, and offered to lay down a guitar t r a ck on the record. He was t u r n ed down.

“He’s 24 years old and doesn’t u n d e rs t and the r a m i f i c a t i o ns of wh at he did,” Jones said of Prince’s no-show. “He’s eup h o r ic w i th his success. He called at 2 o’clock t h at he was on his way. Then you all k n ow he h ad t he r u n – in w i th t he bodyguards and the photographers. He called back at 6 o’clock to say he w o u l d n ‘t be there.”

Prince’s work wi ll be used on an album to be released March 28. It is also a USA for Africa e ffor t, and will feature “We Are The World” plus a number of other never-before released cuts f e a t u r i ng some of t he perf o rme rs on the single ( R i c h i e. J a c k s o n. Simon, and Rogers) and some s t a rs who didn’t show: Linda Ronstadt. Rod Stewart and
McCa r tney. It wi ll also feature the single. “Tears Are N ot E n o u g h .” a song recorded by Nor the rn Lights, a o n e – t i me s u p e r -g r o up made up of Canadian recording artists.

Wendy Ferris of Ken Kra g e n a nd Kenny Loggins Associates said the “We Are the World” single ( the “B” side is Jones’ O l y m p ic theme, “Grace”) wi ll sell retail for $1.98, with $1.73 going to the USA for Af r i ca Inc. relief fund.

“We are also t r y i ng to mobi l i ze r adio stations across the country to make this an event,” said Ferris. “Because that’s the key word in all of this: Do something.”

In addition to the records, posters, videotapes and a photo book (to be released next m o n t h) w i ll be sold to b e n e f it the f u n d. Life magazine’s April issue w i ll feature a cover story on the rock benefit.

People wi s h i ng to send d o n a t i o ns can w r i te to U SA f or A f r i c a, 6420 W i l s h i re B l v d ., 19th F l o o r, L os A n g e l e s, C a l i f . 90048.

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