Throwback Thursday: We are the World

On Jan. 28, 1985, at A&M Recording Studios in Hollywood, following the American Music Awards, more than 40 artists gathered to record a song Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson had written to raise awareness of widespread, life-threatening famine and poverty in Africa. Most of that show’s winners — including Cyndi Lauper, Hall & Oates, Bruce Springsteen, Huey Lewis, Willie Nelson, Tina Turner, the Pointer Sisters, Kenny Rogers and the Jacksons — participated.

correct autographs

Kenny Rogers wanted to get everybody’s autograph. “So I took a sheet of music from the session and started getting people to sign it. Once I started, Diana Ross started, then everybody was running around trying to get everybody.”

The single went on to sell more than 20 million copies. The more than $75 million raised by non-profit organization USA for Africa helped to fight poverty on the continent. The song also won three Grammy Awards in 1986, including song and record of the year.


We Are the World soloists, in order of appearance:

lionel ritchie & stevie wonder

Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder

paul simon kenny rogers

Paul Simon and Kenny Rogers

James Ingram


Tina Turner and Billy Joel

mj & Dianna Ross

Michael Jackson and Diana Ross

Dione & Willie Nelson

Dionne Warwick and Willie Nelson

Al Jarreau

better springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

Kenny Loggins

Steve Perry

Daryl Hall

Huey Lewis

cindy laupa

Cyndi Lauper and Kim Carnes

beautiful Dylan

Bob Dylan

nog RC

Ray Charles

These people sang in the chorus: Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Mario Cipollina, Johnny Colla, Sheila E., Bob Geldof, Bill Gibson, Chris Hayes, Sean Hopper, Jackie Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Randy Jackson, Tito Jackson, Waylon Jennings, Bette Midler, John Oates, Jeffrey Osborne, Anita Pointer, June Pointer, Ruth Pointer and Smokey Robinson.

USA for Africa is still around.

Thirty years after We Are the World, USA for Africa still works on behalf of communities in Africa. Recent initiatives have addressed climate-change issues, arts campaigns and the shipment of medical supplies to Liberia and Sierra Leone to combat the spread of ebola. Royalties from We Are the World continue to be the organization’s primary source of funding.

Source: USA Today

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