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‘We Are the World’ Released 32 Years Ago Today

Taping of American Bandstands 50th...A Celebration
Vince Bucci, Getty Images

It was January 28, 1985 when the song “We Are The World” was recorded but it wasn’t released until March 7 of that year. So today marks the 32nd anniversary of the song’s release.  It was a collaboration of Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, and Quincy Jones. According to Wikipedia, ‘We Are the World’ is a song and charity song originally recorded by the super group USA for Africa in 1985. It was written by Jackson and Richie and produced by Jones and Michael Omartian for the album ‘We Are the World.’ The song was unbelievably popular with listeners on 99Q in Quincy back in 1985 when D.O. and I were playing it. It will be the “Recycled Hit of the Day” today at 8:30 a.m.

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With sales in excess of 20 million copies, it is one of the fewer than 30 all-time singles to have sold 10 million or more copies worldwide. In case you have forgotten, here is the list of artists who were a part of this iconic song.

  • Dan Aykroyd
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Lindsey Buckingham
  • Kim Carnes
  • Ray Charles
  • Bob Dylan
  • Sheila E.
  • Bob Geldof
  • Hall and Oates
  • James Ingram
  • Jackie Jackson
  • LaToya Jackson
  • Marlon Jackson
  • Michael Jackson
  • Randy Jackson
  • Tito Jackson
  • Al Jarreau
  • Waylon Jennings
  • Billy Joel
  • Cyndi Lauper
  • Huey Lewis and the News
  • Kenny Logins
  • Bette Midler
  • Willie Nelson
  • Jeffery Osborne
  • Steve Perry
  • The Pointer Sisters
  • Lionel Richie
  • Smokey Robinson
  • Kenny Rogers
  • Diana Ross
  • Paul Simon
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Tina Turner
  • Dionne Warwick
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Michael Boddicker – Synthesizers, Programming
  • Paulinho da Costa – Percussion
  • Louis Johnson – Bass
  • Quincy Jones – Producer
  • Michael Omartian – Keyboards, Producer
  • Greg Phillinganes – Keyboards
  • John Robinson – Drums

The recording of the song did not come without controversy. A little know fact about the recording, according to Wikipedia, is that Stevie Wonder announced that he would like to substitute the “sha-lum sha-lin-gay” sound for a line in Swahili. At that point, Waylon Jennings left the recording studio and never returned. Jennings allegedly felt that no “good ole boy” ever sang in Swahili. A heated debate ensued, in which several artists rejected the suggestion. The “sha-lum sha-lin-gay” sound ran into opposition as well and was subsequently removed from the song. The participants eventually decided to sing something meaningful in English instead.

Apparently, way too many egos in one place 32 years ago.

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