Today marks the 35th anniversary of the star-studded charity single “We Are the World” reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song, which spent five weeks at the top of the chart, was co-written by Lionel Richie and the late Michael Jackson, and featured the vocal talents of dozens of the major pop, rock and R&B artists, among them Daryl Hall and John Oates.
“It was a crazy…exceptional time,” Hall tells ABC Audio of the session. “I never experienced anything like that. It was totally unique.”
As Daryl recalls, “All the artists were all in the room together. Nobody had anybody to fall back on. No posse, no nothing…And everybody wound up being sort of like a kid. I mean, it felt to me like junior high school.”
Hall continues, “[P]eople [were] passing around the sheet music to autograph each other’s sheet music, and all this kind of stuff. It was…almost indescribable how strange it was.”
One of the interesting moments Daryl remembers was watching Ray Charles play piano and noticing Billy Joel “staring at him really hard to see what Ray…was doing.”
He also says he was surprised to see some of the legends expressing insecurity about whether they could do a good job singing their part.
Hall tells ABC Audio that in general, many of the artists were “letting their hair down, adding, “Everybody was in friendly mode, that’s for sure.”
Other stars that took part in the session included Jackson, Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Steve Perry, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and Huey Lewis.
Credited to U.S.A. for Africa, “We Are the World” raised more than $147 million for famine relief in Africa and the U.S.
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