If you '80s children need a reason to feel extra-old this week, here's a good one: "We Are the World" is exactly 30 years old. In 1985, the evening of the American Music Awards -- which back then were in late January instead of right after Thanksgiving -- Quincy Jones emptied his Rolodex, partially at Michael Jackson's behest, and stars from Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson to Hall & Oates, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis & the News and Bruce Springsteen turned up, among a host of other stars at the time.
Michael Jackson, looking appropriately regal in the "We Are the World" video
Inspired by Band Aid, in which Sir Bob Geldof invited/guilt-tripped a who's who of mid-'80s UK pop stars (Duran Duran, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, Sting, Bono) to record the seasonal pop song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and donate the proceeds to help fight famine in East Africa, mainly Ethiopia. The song was an instant hit and one of the biggest media events of the decade, although some critics later argued that those most in need actually received a shamefully low percentage of aid compared to the millions of dollars that were supposed to have been raised.
Nevertheless, to date, Geldof has updated "Do They Know It's Christmas" three times for various causes, including last year with a cast topped by Sam Smith, One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Ellie Goulding, etc., and recording as "Band Aid 30." The funds raised were earmarked to fight Ebola this time.More »