We Are The World: Behind-the-Scenes Videos

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We Are The World screen grab

Screen grab of Lewis, Lauper and Carnes during the recording session

It’s been 35 years since several dozen all-time greats recorded as USA For Africa in the hours following the 1985 Grammy Awards. “We Are The World” was recorded on January 28, 1985 and released on March 7.

The effort came from an idea originated by singer-activist Harry Belafonte, following the success of Band Aid’s 1984 “Do They Know It’s Christmas” charity recording.

The song was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie; the sessions were produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian. But as you can see from these “making-of” Classic Videos, Richie was very hands on during the recording process. The charity single became a worldwide #1 smash on April 27, 1985 and would go on to sell a whopping 20 million copies and raise over $60 million for humanitarian efforts to address hunger in Africa.

In this clip Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper and Kim Carnes passionately work out their solos and ultimate collaboration, ending with Lauper’s spontaneous (and heartfelt) “Yeah yeah yeah yeah.” It’s also amusing to see A-Listers Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Daryl Hall and others in the background, like schoolkids watching a teacher berate a classmate. Meanwhile, Michael Jackson is all business.

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And then there’s Bob Dylan, just 43-years-old, rehearsing his solo accompanied by Stevie Wonder on piano and taking direction from Quincy. “There’s a choice we’re making, we’re saving our own lives…”

While posing for a group photo, the performers good-naturedly regaled Belafonte with an impromptu rendition of his “The Banana Boat Song”

There were 21 soloists in all, five of whom are no longer with us: MJ, Al Jarreau, James Ingram, Kenny Rogers and Ray Charles. In order of appearance:

Lionel Richie
Stevie Wonder
Paul Simon
Kenny Rogers
James Ingram
Tina Turner
Billy Joel
Michael Jackson
Diana Ross
Dionne Warwick
Willie Nelson
Al Jarreau
Bruce Springsteen
Kenny Loggins
Steve Perry
Daryl Hall
Huey Lewis
Cyndi Lauper
Kim Carnes
Bob Dylan
Ray Charles

Related: When Live Aid rocked the planet

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