When talking about charity songs from the 1980's, Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and USA For Africa's "We Are The World" generally come to mind first. Both singles brought together some of the biggest pop music stars of the 80's to help raise money for famine relief throughout the world. Band Aid was made up of mainly British and Irish performers while USA For Africa was predominately American artists. These songs were very successful, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" went to the No. 1 position in the British Charts while "We Are The World" took the top spot on the Billboard singles chart in America. While both projects proved to be a hit, there was no real involvement from anyone outside the pop music genre.......and it left a void that felt like the rock world had been left out.
In 1985 the heavy metal/hard rock music community came together to create their own anthem to help in the world's fight against hunger. The project was called Hear 'N Aid and the song they delivered was "Stars." The initial idea was brought to the table by DIO band members Jimmy Bain and Vivian Campbell. Jimmy felt that representation from the hard rock/heavy metal community was light in regards to the fight against famine and thought it was time for hard rock/heavy metal artists to step up and do their part to help and be heard. Jimmy and Vivian talked to Ronnie James Dio about their idea to create a charity single, Ronnie liked the idea and the three wrote the song "Stars."
The song was recorded in 1985 over two days at A&M studios in Hollywood, California. The project featured contributions from members of Dio, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Dokken, Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister, Queensrÿche, Blue Öyster Cult, Vanilla Fudge, Y&T, Rough Cutt, Giuffria, Journey, W.A.S.P., Night Ranger and even parody band Spinal Tap was involved. Lead vocal duties for the track were shared between Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Kevin DuBrow, Eric Bloom, Geoff Tate, Dave Meniketti, Don Dokken and Paul Shortino. A lengthy guitar solo was recorded for the mid-section of the song and included blazing riffs from the likes of Vivian Campbell, Carlos Cavazo, Buck Dharma, Brad Gillis, Craig Goldy, George Lynch, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Ojeda, Neal Schon, Ted Nugent plus Iron Maiden's Dave Murray and Adrian Smith supplied a nice harmony guitar part.
Ronnie James Dio had intended for the single to be released shortly after it was recorded but due to legal issues with some of the artists involved it did not get released until January 1st, 1986. Dio felt that the delay in releasing the single may have hurt the impact it made. "Stars" was released as a single and there was also a documentary called "Hear 'N Aid - The Sessions" released at the same time. A compilation album was released featuring "Stars" as the lead track and included live tracks from some artists that were unable to participate to the recording of the single, including Kiss, Accept, Motorhead, Rush and others. Hear 'N Aid was originally only available on vinyl and cassette. In 1994 it was released on CD for the first time, but only in Japan. Ronnie James Dio's widow Wendy Dio has said that there will be a reissue of the project on CD & DVD at some point and that there are plenty of outtakes that will be included. No info on when this may happen.
The project was reported to have raised 1 million dollars in its first year.
I have included a couple links below, one is the documentary on the making of "Stars." The section featuring the recording of the lead vocals is worth the price of admission alone. Check it out....good stuff.
Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH bands Radio Tramps and Returning April. Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for Scott....you'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.