Thursday, November 24, 2016

When '80s Bands United For Charity

Its Thanksgiving, and the holiday seaon is upon us. Since charity, music, and fun are important parts of this time of year, its a good time to remember when all three of those elements combined for a series of wonderful charity records back in the '80s. This starts around Christmas time, with a beautiful effort by a bunch of musicians. 

In 1984, a group of primarily British and Irish musicians united to collect fund for famine relief in Africa. A project initiated by musicians Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, they called themselves Band Aid, and they released a memorable Christmas single called "Do They Know Its Christmas." Band Aid was literally a "whos who" of the '80s British music scene, and included, among others, such names as Boy George, Sting, George Michael, Phil Collins, David Bowie and members of Bananarama, Duran Duran, and U2.
"Do They Know Its Christmas" went on to become a major holiday song in 1984, and a wonderful memory of that year. 

The Band Aid effort ultimately led to additional efforts at famine relief. In January of 1985 there was USA for Africa, a similar effort by American musicians. This group put out "We Are The World," a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and featuring, in addition to those two musicians, also Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Tina Turner, Paul Simon and many others.

The charitable spirit was catching.  Shortly after, in February of 1985, a group of Canadian musicians got together as Northern Lights, and put out the song "Tears Are Not Enough."  This single also collected money for African famine relief, and included Anne Murray, Geddy Lee (of Rush), Mike Reno (of Loverboy), Joni Mitchel, Corey Hart, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, and Burton Cummings (of the Guess Who), among many others.

Not to be left out, heavy metal musicians also put out their own effort to help famine relief. It was called Hear n' Aid, and they put out their charitable single "Stars," a song written by Ronnie James Dio, and which included contributions by members of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, and many others.

These collective efforts culminated in the enormous Live Aid concert in 1985.

Happy Thanksgiving, and a blessed holiday season to us all.