One Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1985 – USA for Africa

“We Are the World” by USA for Africa

Inspired by Bob Geldof’s Band Aid, the charity super-group USA for Africa was formed. They recorded the song “We Are the World”. The idea for the creation of an American benefit single for African famine relief came from Harry Belafonte, who, along with fundraiser Ken Kragen, was instrumental in bringing the vision to reality. They made a great decision of having Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie write the song. The song was released on March 7, 1985, and peaked at #1 on April 13, 1985. “We Are the World” raised over $63 million.

USA for Africa also held a benefit event, Hands Across America, in which approximately seven million people held hands in a human chain for fifteen minutes along a path across the continental United States. Participants paid ten dollars to stand in line and the money raised was used to fight hunger and homelessness in Africa.

The combined revenues raised from the sales of “We Are the World” and Hands Across America was almost $100 million.

Here is a list of the performers for “We Are the World”:

Conductor Quincy Jones

Soloists (in order of appearance)

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
Smokey Robinson

Here is the memorable video for “We Are the World”:

3 thoughts on “One Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1985 – USA for Africa”

  1. When I heard they were going to make this song, I didn’t have high hopes for it. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was so good that I figured anything else would pale in comparison. However, our fellow Americans pulled it off and produced something just as memorable.

    The song “Hands Across America,” on the other hand (pun intended), was a letdown for me. I never really “felt it”…it seemed a little forced or something. They should have just had us sing “We Are The World” while we were holding hands.

    By the way, I hope you had a great Christmas!


    1. Thanks Jim! I hope you had a great Christmas. I’ve been on vacation this week (in case you haven’t noticed). 🙂 I got a surprise visit from my parents who drove up from Florida for Christmas. So I’ve had a busy week.

      Now I’m working on a new look for the page. Well I hope you have a very Happy New Year!


      1. Yeah, the new look threw me for a loop at first, but I like it!

        Christmas was good. You have a great New Year, too. Enjoy your family and your vacation!


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