Search This Blog

Thursday, April 13, 2017

April 13, 1985

This week on the Thursday Throwback entry, we're going to be celebrating a song that certainly had a lot of people singing along with it.  And it's a song that we could all stand to hear given all that is going on with the world right now.

Before we get to that subject, we're having a look back on April 13th with some other historical events.

1111 - Henry V is crowned Holy Roman Emperor

1742 - George Frideric Handel's "Messiah" makes its world premiere debut in Dublin, Ireland

1743 - Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States of America (d. 1826) is born in Shadwell, Virginia, British America

1777 - During the American Revolutionary War, American troops are defeated in the Battle of Bound Brook, New Jersey

1861 - Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederate forces during the American Civil War

1870 - The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art is founded

1873 - The Colfax Massacre takes place

1902 - The first JC Penney department store opens for business

1919 - Actor/singer Howard Keel (d. 2004) is born in Gillespie, Illinois

1923 - Actor Don Adams (d. 2005) is born in New York, New York

1943 - The Jefferson Memorial is dedicated in Washington D.C.

1945 - Vienna, Austria is captured by Bulgarian and Soviet forces during World War II

1948 - The Hadassah Medical Convoy Massacre takes place, leaving 79 dead

1964 - Sidney Poitier becomes the first African-American actor to win an Academy Award for "Lilies of the Field"

1970 - An oxygen tank aboard Apollo 13 explodes, causing a dangerous situation for the crew aboard

1972 - The Battle of An Loc begins during the Vietnam War

1976 - Actor Jonathan Brandis (d. 2003) is born in Danbury, Connecticut

1991 - Londonbeat's "I've Been Thinking About You" reaches the #1 spot on the Billboard Charts

1992 - Flooding in Chicago cause the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trading building to close

1997 - Tiger Woods wins the Masters Tournament, becoming the youngest golfer to do so

Now, for celebrity birthdays.  These people are turning one year older today; Dan Gurney, Edward Fox, Paul Sorvino, Lester Chambers, Billy Kidd, Charles Burnett, Jack Casady, Tony Dow, Judy Nunn, Al Green, Mike Chapman, Ron Perlman, Peabo Bryson, Peter Davison, Max Weinberg, Jimmy Destri, Saundra Santiago, Caroline Rhea, Marc Ford, Ricky Schroder, Jasey-Jay Anderson, Lou Bega, Nick Garrett, Tony Lunden, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Nellie McKay, Hunter Pence, Anna Jennings-Edquist, Brandon Hardesty, and Allison Williams.

So now that we have the birthday wishes and special events taken care of, it's time to see what date we will be visiting this week.

Ah, April 13, 1985.  That's a date that I was definitely around for.  Whether I remember it - well, that's debatable.

But one thing that was certain - it was a day in which history was made on the American Billboard Charts.  It was a song that would go on to sell twenty million copies (one of only a handful to sell that many).  It won a People's Choice Award, an American Music Award, and three Grammy Awards.  And considering that the song was used as a promotional single to raise awareness for famine, it managed to raise and donate over $63 million for humanitarian aid to nations that needed it the most.

It also remains the only time in pop music history in which forty-five different artists had a #1 hit on the charts.  At the same time!

Can you guess which song I'm talking about?  Here it is in all its glory.  The #1 song on the charts thirty-two years ago.

ARTIST:  USA for Africa
SONG:  We Are The World
ALBUM:  We Are The World Single
DATE RELEASED:  March 7, 1985

One could say that 1985 was the year for charity fundraising through music.  In addition to this single, Canada released "Tears Are Not Enough", and the live simulcast concert "Live-Aid" in the summer of 1985 was one of the largest concert events in history.  But the story of how USA for Africa came about began with another worldwide charity single that was released in time for the 1984 holiday season.

It was from the success of "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band-Aid that prompted the United States to do their part in raising awareness and funds to combat famine in Africa.  It was Harry Belafonte and fundraiser Ken Kragen who got the project rolling, and they used Belafonte's connections with the music world to hunt for musicians that would sit down and write the song.

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie took on the task of the song, and the finished draft of the lyrics and sheet music were completed just seven weeks after the release of "Do They Know It's Christmas".

The song was complete on January 20, 1985.  On January 21, the first recording session was held.  This just goes to show you just how efficient the process was.

And just what artists participated in the historic event?  Here is the official list including soloists, choir members, and the conductor:

Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Ray Charles, Mario Cipollina, Johnny Colla, Bob Dylan, Sheila E., Bob Geldof, Bill Gibson, Daryl Hall, Chris Hayes, Sean Hopper, James Ingram, Jackie Jackson, LaToya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Michael Jackson, Randy Jackson, Tito Jackson, Al Jarreau, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Kenny Loggins, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, John Oates, Jeffrey Osborne, Steve Perry, Anita Pointer, June Pointer, Ruth Pointer, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, and Stevie Wonder.  Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of that recording session.  That would have been every music fan's dream!

Upon the single's release in record stores in March 1985, many retailers expected the song to be a hit.  But they didn't know how much of a hit it would be until they consistently ran out of stock the first few days the song became available for purchase.  The initial shipment of 800,000 copies at record stores all over America sold out after just THREE DAYS.  Some record stores were reporting sales of 1,000 copies sold over a 48-hour period - six times the amount that a standard #1 hit single would have sold.  It was the first single to reach sales of multi-platinum, and it stayed on the charts for four weeks.  It was eventually dethroned by an artist who was NOT involved with the single - Madonna's "Crazy for You" hit #1 the week of May 11, 1985, and only stayed on the top of the charts for one week.

Ultimately though, the sales from the single did go towards hunger relief in Africa.  As mentioned above, it raised $63 million for the cause, of which 90% went to Africa, while the remaining ten per cent was used to establish programs within the United States to eradicate hunger caused by poverty and other factors.

I'll call that a success!

No comments:

Post a Comment