On Jan. 28, 1985, 35 years ago, legendary producer Quincy Jones gathered 45 of the biggest artists of the day, including Bob Dylan, Huey Lewis and the News, Stevie Wonder and Cyndi Lauper, at A&M Studios in Los Angeles to record the now-historic charity single, "We Are The World." The goal of this one-time supergroup, USA For Africa, was to raise money for famine relief in Africa; in Ethiopia alone, more than 1 million people had died due to hunger in the prior two years.
For the latest episode of GRAMMY Rewind, GRAMMY.com revisits the 28th GRAMMY Awards, held in Los Angeles in 1986, when the star-studded, seven-minute track, penned by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Jones, took home Song Of The Year, along with three other big wins.
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"We are so proud to be a part of an industry of people that when the world is in need of helping each other, this music industry of ours responded," Richie said to his peers as he and Jackson accepted the Song Of The Year GRAMMY. "When we called, you responded, and we thank you for that."
A cultural phenomenon and major commercial success, "We Are The World" sold more than 8 million copies in the U.S. and raised more than $75 million for famine relief in Africa. In addition to winning the GRAMMY for Song Of The Year, it also won for Record Of The Year, Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Best Music Video. The visual for the song is a joyful journey back to the big-haired '80s, giving an inside look into the famous studio session.
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The initial idea for "We Are The World" came from singer/activist/actor Harry Belafonte, who was inspired by Band Aid's 1984 charity single, "Do They Know It's Christmas." Both singles inspired 1985's Live Aid, the first benefit concert of its size and caliber, as well as Willie Nelson's long-running Farm Aid shows.
Ultimately, "We Are The World" showed what the influence and unity of the music industry could accomplish when it comes together for a good cause and addresses the important issues of the time.
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