Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In 80s Music, April 27th

On this day in 1985: USA for Africa started its third of four weeks at #1 on the U.S. singles chart with ‘We Are The World.’  It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album ‘We Are The World.’

Following Band Aid’s 1984 “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” project in the UK, an idea for the creation of an American benefit single for African famine relief came from activist Harry Belafonte, who, along with fundraiser Ken Kragen, was instrumental in bringing the vision to reality. Several musicians were contacted by the pair, before Jackson and Richie were assigned the task of writing the song. The duo completed the writing of “We Are the World” seven weeks after the release of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, and only one night before “We Are the World’s” first recording session, on January 21, 1985. The historic event brought together some of the time’s most well-known music industry artists.

The song was released on March 7, 1985, as the first single from the album by Columbia Records. A worldwide commercial success, topping music charts throughout the world and becoming the fastest-selling U.S. pop single in history. The first ever single to be certified multi-platinum, “We Are the World” received a Quadruple Platinum certification by the RIAA.

Awarded numerous honors—including three Grammy Awards, one American Music Award, and a People’s Choice Award, the song was promoted with a critically received music video, a VHS release, a special edition magazine, a simulcast, and several books, posters, and shirts. The promotion and merchandise aided the success of “We Are the World” and raised over $63 million (equivalent to $147 million today) for humanitarian aid in Africa and the US.

Here’s a look at the complete Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1985:

1 1 WE ARE THE WORLD –•– USA For Africa (Columbia)-6 (3 Weeks at #1) (1)
2 2 CRAZY FOR YOU –•– Madonna (Geffen)-9 (2)
3 5 RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT –•– DeBarge (Gordy)-11 (3)
4 3 NIGHTSHIFT –•– Commodores (Motown)-14 (3)
5 8 DON’T YOU (Forget About Me) –•– Simple Minds (A&M)-10 (5)
6 9 ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK –•– Murray Head (RCA)-10 (6)
7 7 OBSESSION –•– Animotion (Mercury)-14 (7)
8 12 SOME LIKE IT HOT –•– The Power Station (Capitol)-7 (8)
9 6 I’M ON FIRE –•– Bruce Springsteen (Columbia)-11 (6)
10 11 ALL SHE WANTS TO DO IS DANCE –•– Don Henley (Geffen)-10 (10)

11 4 ONE MORE NIGHT –•– Phil Collins (Atlantic)-12 (1)
12 16 SMOOTH OPERATOR –•– Sade (Portrait)-9 (12)
13 10 MISSING YOU –•– Diana Ross (RCA)-22 (10)
14 14 ALONG COMES A WOMAN –•– Chicago (Full Moon / Warner Brothers)-10 (14)
15 17 THAT WAS YESTERDAY –•– Foreigner (Atlantic)-7 (15)
16 19 EVERYTHING SHE WANTS –•– Wham! (Columbia)-6 (16)
17 20 DON’T COME AROUND HERE NO MORE –•– Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (MCA)-7 (17)
18 26 EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD –•– Tears For Fears (Mercury)-7 (18)
19 21 SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT UNSAID –•– Daryl Hall & John Oates (RCA)-7 (19)
20 22 ROCK AND ROLL GIRLS –•– John Fogerty (Warner Brothers)-7 (20)

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