In the wake of the British-instigated Band Aid, Harry Belafonte decided to launch a similar appeal in America. Bob Geldof himself joined the host of stars who gave their support to We Are The World – a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.
46 performers sang on the single: Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Sheila E, Bob Geldof, Daryl Hall, James Ingram, Michael, Jermaine, Marlon, Jackie, Tito, Randy and LaToya Jackson, Al Jarreau, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis and the News (Mario Cipollina, John Colla, Bill Gibson, Chris Hayes and Sean Hopper), Kenny Loggins, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, John Oates, Jeffrey Osborne, Steve Perry (from Journey), Anita, June and Ruth Pointer, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder.
The single was recorded in a 10-hour recording session which began at 10:00 pm on Monday 28 January 1985, running through until 08:00 the next morning. Although producer Quincy Jones instructed all the artists to “check your ego at the door,” there were inevitable difficulties with so many stars in the same room . . .
The artists were arranged in the studio in a front row and then, on risers, in second and third rows; a delicate task. “Where’re we gonna put Diana?” asked one organiser, wisely mindful of Ross’ usually regal requirements.
“Doesn’t matter where you put her,” came the reply. “She’ll still complain about her position.”
As it turned out, Ross stood in the front row, holding hands with Michael Jackson.
One invited artist who never showed up was Prince (a spot on the floor next to Michael Jackson was marked with a piece of tape that read “Prince”).
Although he reportedly called late in the session offering to add a guitar part, it was vocals that were required, and so Prince never showed.
The record premiered simultaneously on over 500 radio stations throughout the world on 5 April 1985.