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 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.
This was a pretty big deal at the time. Part of the magic is that they managed to keep the whole production a complete secret until the song was released.
Many of the singers arrived in limousines, having just come from the awards show, but not everybody showed up in style. “I think Bruce Springsteen parked his truck in the parking lot of the Rite-Aid or a grocery store that used to be across the street,” Richie says. “He parked over there and walked in. He didn’t know you could come through the gate.”
Love the song, love the story behind the song. Speaking of which, here’s a documentary (slightly cheesy, but that was the tone of the times) that lays everything out. Some excellent nostalgia.