Recent History

WE ARE THE WORLD SONG

We_Are_the_World

Sixteen years ago today, a seriously historic moment in music history took place. No, it wasn’t the American Music Awards, but it did take place right after that.

It was right after those awards, held in Hollywood, that 45 of the world’s top musicians and entertainers grouped at the A&M Recording Studios in the same city to record their parts for the U.S.A. For Africa charity album, We Are the World.

Production of the main song actually began on January 22, 1985, when writers Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones met with several musicians and producers to begin constructing the song and recording demos of each part. After a long night, ending around 1:30 a.m., the group took a day off and sent out the demo tapes to all of the performers on the following day.

On the 24th, the group decided where to host the recording. That decision was probably the biggest key in the whole project. If the info leaked out, and fans thronged to the building, none of the big-named artists volunteering their time would show. On the 25th, choreography (in other words, who stands where) was decided at Richie’s home.

On the 28th, the final product began to take shape. Jackson recorded his vocals during the American Music Awards, and most of the other performers started to arrive once the show had completed.

Each of the performers took his or her position at around 10.30 pm and began to sing. Several hours passed before Stevie Wonder announced that he would like to substitute a line in Swahili. At this point, Waylon Jennings left the recording studio and never returned; he allegedly felt that no “good ole boy” ever sang in Swahili. A heated debate ensued, in which several artists rejected the suggestion. The line was subsequently removed from the song. The participants eventually decided to sing something meaningful in English. They chose to sing the new line “One world, Our children.”

In the early hours of the morning, two Ethiopian women, guests of Wonder’s, were brought into the recording studio—it had been decided that a portion of the proceeds raised would be used to bring aid to those affected by the recent famine in Ethiopia. They thanked the singers on behalf of their country, bringing several artists to tears, before being led from the room. Wonder attempted to lighten the mood, by joking that the recording session gave him a chance to “see” fellow blind musician Ray Charles. “We just sort of bumped into each other!” he said. The final version of “We Are the World” was completed at 8 a.m.

 

The song wasn’t released until March 7, 1985, on both 45 and LP formats. It went on to sell more than 10-million copies, making it one of the most successful records of all time.

Among those who participated in the recording where: Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Al Jarreau, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Daryl Hall, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Carnes, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Mario Cipollina, Johnny Colla, Sheila E., Bob Geldof, Bill Gibson, Chris Hayes, Sean Hopper, Jackie Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Randy Jackson, Tito Jackson, Waylon Jennings, Bette Midler, John Oates, Jeffrey Osborne, Anita Pointer, June Pointer, Ruth Pointer and Smokey Robinson.

 

 

1/27: Gladys Horton has Died

by RAY FITZGERALD on JANUARY 27, 2011

Gladys HortonGladys Horton, co-founder and former lead singer of the Motown Records group,The Marvelettes, died on Wednesday.

She was 66.

Horton’s rough, but memorable, vocals were heard on iconic hits likePlease, Mr. Postman,Beechwood 4-5789 and Too Many Fish in the Sea.

Vaughn Thornton, 40, says his mother passed away midday Wednesday, Jan. 26th, in a Sherman Oaks, Calif., nursing home where she had been recuperating from a stroke suffered in 2009.

“My mother died peacefully,” Thornton said. “She fought as long as she could.”

Following a successful talent contest to sing for Motown, Georgia Dobbins, who was the group’s first lead singer, co-wrote “Postman,” but had to leave the group after her father forbid her from singing in nightclubs.

Horton then became the lead singer and the group changed their name to The Marvelettes. Motown released the song in the summer of 1961 when Horton was only fifteen. It eventually climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

Through a press release earlier today, Motown founderBerry Gordy acknowledged Horton’s contributions to his young company:

I am so saddened to hear of the passing of another Motown great, one of our first, Gladys Horton, who with the Marvelettes, recorded our first #1 hit, “Please Mr. Postman,” and many others. Gladys was a very, very special lady, and I loved the way she sang with her rasp…y, soulful voice.

We will all miss her, and she will always be a part of the Motown family.

Berry Gordy
Founder, Motown

 

RIP Gladys