Archive for the ‘Good causes’ Category

A Night for Austin TONIGHT

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

Introducing: A Night For Austin

A live-streamed telethon supporting the “live music capital” of the world.

Join us on Tuesday, June 10th at 8PM CST for a telethon event supporting the city of Austin. Initiated by Paul Simon himself, the streaming show will be available on,, and CBS Austin/KEYE.  

A Night For Austin will feature a star-studded lineup of performances and appearances, and highlight the venues and people behind the “live music capital” of the world.  

The program will raise funds for Austin Community Foundation who has created a special fund benefitting MusiCares Austin, HAAM, Central Texas Food Bank, Red River Cultural District, People Fund, and Six Square.  

Let’s band together to celebrate a very impo

Willie Nelson & Friends, “A Night for Austin” (June 10th) (that’s tomorrow) (yeah, Wednesday)

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Don’t Forget! A Night for Austin (June 10th)

Friday, June 5th, 2020
By: Peter Blackstock

All-star benefit musical events have been plentiful in coronavirus time, but even so, this one’s a doozy. “A Night for Austin,” a two-hour streaming event set to air at 8 p.m. June 10 on the website and local CBS affiliate KEYE-TV, features a lineup that rivals any such event held during the pandemic. And the cause is specifically Austin-centric.

First, the lineup: Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Gary Clark Jr., Bonnie Raitt with Boz Scaggs, James Taylor, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Black Pumas, Norah Jones, Vince Gill, Patty Griffin, Lukas Nelson, Flaco Jimenez & Augie Meyers with Los Texmaniacs, Spoon’s Britt Daniel, Jimmie Vaughan & the Tilt-A-Whirl Band, John Hiatt, Ryan Bingham, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Terry Allen, Alejandro Escovedo, Edie Brickell, Charlie Sexton with Doyle Bramhall II, Jerry Douglas, and David Ramirez, plus guest appearances by Ethan Hawke, Owen Wilson, Renee Zellweger and Woody Harrelson. All of the performances were recorded recently by the participants, largely at their homes, and have been assembled for the streaming presentation.

Spearheaded by Willie and Annie Nelson with Paul Simon and Edie Brickell, and presented by the organizers of Nelson’s annual Luck Reunion mini-festival, “A Night for Austin” was designed as “a music benefit supporting the Austin Community Foundation fund which is focused on Austin’s businesses and individuals in need of necessary aid,” according to the event’s website.

“100% of the proceeds from the program will go toward Austin Community Foundation and the fund’s beneficiaries MusiCares, Red River Cultural District, Six Square, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, Central Texas Food Bank, Southern Smoke, and People Fund.”

The event also will “highlight many of the iconic venues that have contributed to Austin’s status as a renowned cultural hub,” per the website statement. Already stepping up with matching support have been Universal Music Publishing with $25,000 and BMI Austin with $10,000. Individual donations can be made at

A Night for Austin

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

Introducing: A Night For Austin

A live-streamed telethon supporting the “live music capital” of the world.

Join us on Tuesday, June 10th at 8PM CST for a telethon event supporting the city of Austin. Initiated by Paul Simon himself, the streaming show will be available on,, and CBS Austin/KEYE.  

A Night For Austin will feature a star-studded lineup of performances and appearances, and highlight the venues and people behind the “live music capital” of the world.  

The program will raise funds for Austin Community Foundation who has created a special fund benefitting MusiCares Austin, HAAM, Central Texas Food Bank, Red River Cultural District, People Fund, and Six Square.  

Let’s band together to celebrate a very important city. See ya there.

Texas Artists sing, “Promised Land”, raise funds for TX artists

Thursday, May 28th, 2020
by: staff

Ft. Worth, TX-(May 26, 2020)-Despite the struggles independent musicians have been facing recently, twenty-five Texas artists have banded together to help raise money and awareness for a population of people with even greater struggles than their own. The group of singer-songwriters, along with the notable band and orchestral musicians, have joined forces as the Fort Worth Musicians Choir, to support the area’s struggling refugee community, with the release of their grand version of the Willie Nelson classic “Living in the Promiseland,” written by David Lynn Jones and originally released by Nelson in 1986.

All proceeds from the song and video, as well as an upcoming benefit concert scheduled for June 21st in Fort Worth, benefit the Refugee Services of Texas, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to finding homes and jobs for, educating, and acclimating the area’s refugee population.

“‘Living in the Promiseland’ speaks of the struggles of refugees and immigrants to America, referencing the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty,” says singer-songwriter Dan Johnson who arranged and conducted the orchestra and choir. “These folks aren’t illegal immigrants. They’re families with children who have waited an average of 7 years in refugee camps and gone through all the proper legal channels and background checks, to try to pursue the American dream of freedom and build a better life for themselves and their children.” Johnson is best known for his 2018 concept album/book project Hemingway, another non-profit endeavor which funded a two-year tour of veteran suicide prevention concerts and speaking engagements, dedicated to the memory of his father, a veteran who died from suicide when Dan was ten years old. Johnson says recently he became aware that funding and support for refugee services in Texas had been cut off. His own family, having been impoverished and homeless at times when he was a child, left Dan with a heart for displaced and struggling families, and he has volunteered with refugee support services over the years. “These are good, hard-working people and innocent kids, and they deserve a chance at freedom,” Johnson remarks.

Ashley Faye, Development Director for Refugee Services of Texas (RST) commented, “Since the onset of the virus quarantine, funding has dried up even more, and so many of their jobs have been lost. This support means more than ever, during this difficult time.” The organization also cares for and empowers victims of human trafficking. They’ve responded to 293 cases of sex and labor trafficking in our area, 32% of which are children under the age of eighteen. Additionally RST provides support for individuals with Special Immigrant Visas. Recipients of these visas have put their own lives at risk to work with the US Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving as translators and interpreters. Because of their help with the US forces, they are no longer safe in their home countries, and the US welcomes them to build a safe and secure life for their families, here in the States.

Johnson reached out to friends in the music community and asked if they would be willing to put together a benefit to help the regional organization and was blown away by the response. The group, equally comprised of male and female artists, even includes two musicians who came here as refugees themselves through the RST organization, from the Congo and Iran. Co-producer Grant Jackson Wilborn, noted for his work with famed Texas artist Ryan Bingham, and more recently Red Shahan, and Austin Meade, offered his services and studio, 7013 Records, in Fort Worth for the production. Vocalists in the fifteen-member choir included talented favorites like Jackie Darlene, Big Joe Walker, and Andrew Sevener, recently acclaimed for his long run to the final four on NBC’s The Voice. Musicians in the ten-piece orchestra included the likes of Aden Bubeck, Miranda Lambert’s longtime bass player and lead guitarist Ryan Tharp, revered for his work with artists like Bonnie Raitt.

Streaming and purchase of “Living in the Promiseland” is currently estimated to be available by the end of May, as distribution services are facing challenges of their own in the virus-restricted age.

Save the Post Office

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Willie Nelson gives back masks, autographed

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

HOUSTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – While making face masks to give out during the coronavirus pandemic, a Texas resident said she also wanted to send some to country music legend Willie Nelson and his wife.

However, as KTRK reports, Nelson decided to pay it forward by, instead, signing those face masks so that the resident could auction them off and use the money for materials to make more masks.

Houston resident Tanya Boike started making masks with the help of a local nurse, Monica Cabazos, as restrictions were being put into place by government officials to stop the spread of COVID-19. So far, they’ve made and given out over 500 masks.

“I remembered about us as a community during Harvey and the flooding we had. I said, everybody was helping each other,” Cabazos said.

Boike told KTRK she met Nelson’s granddaughter, Noelle Ward, several years ago and wanted to send some face masks to the 86-year-old singer and his wife. After sending them, Boike got quite the surprise.

“[Noelle] texted me a few minutes later and said ‘pops would rather sign these and have them auction them off. That way you can get more materials and keep making these masks for free.’ I just lost it. That’s not what I had made them for,” Boike said.

Ward said that’s just how her grandfather is.

Langhorn Slim on Willie Nelson’s 4/20 special

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

Support your local food bank

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Listen to @WillieNelson
and head on over to to sign up for a shift! You will get plugged into the closest food bank in your area that needs help! Also, you might find yourself in a future ad with a Texas legend when you help us.

Concert for Our Lives Maui (March 24, 2018)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

On Saturday, March 24th, people all over the country made a stand to end gun violence in schools at March for our Lives events at over 30 locations nationwide. In Hawai’i artis joined students, musicians and local community members for ‘The Concert for Our Lives Maui’, a star-studded event in support of ending gun violence in schools at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.   Performances included Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, Kriistofferson, Mick Fleetwood, Steven Tyler , Landon McNamara, Lily Meola.

Watch “Til Further Notice” (again) Tuesday, March 24th, support performers

Monday, March 23rd, 2020
Last Thursday, in lieu of the postponed Luck Reunion, we hosted “Til Futher Notice”; an online streaming experience featuring performances by Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Lucinda Williams, Jewel, and many more.  

Thanks to your overwhelming support and donations we garnered millions of views and raised more than $200,000 to be given to participating artists, the charity of their choice, or to a fellow artist in need.  

Lucky you…we will present the final ‘Til Further Notice’ watch party tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24th for those who couldn’t catch the original stream – or just want to watch a second time around. This is your chance to relive (or catch for the first time) some of the evening’s most touching and wild moments – from Willie & the boys tuning in from their living room; to Woody Harrelson joining Paul Simon and Edie Brickell for an unprecedented performance; Orlando Palacios of Worth & Worth’s much discussed mad hatter routine; and much more…all presented by Asleep At The Wheel’s Ray Benson from his temporary quarantine location of Austin’s Legendary Arlyn Studios.

Tune in to,, and at any time between 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM CENTRAL TIME
During tomorrow’s stream fans can still opt to contribute via a digital tip jar that will be readily available throughout the broadcast. Tip donations raised will be divided equally, and transparently, among all performers. Should an artist wish to donate their share to a charity of their choice, or to a fellow artist in need, they will be able to do so.

If you’d rather show your support and PASS THE BOOT with Venmo, you either scan the code, search for @Luck-Reunion on the app, or click the image below to go to our Venmo page on your phone. Make sure you write PASS THE BOOT in the “What’s it for?” section so we can apply your contribution to the ‘Til Further Notice tally. Big thanks to Tecovas for
supporting our PASS THE BOOT tip jar!
HELP SUPPORT OUR FELLOW LUCK FAMILY MEMBERS BY DONATING Thank you for helping us support our valued creative community in this trying time.   And stay tuned for more virtual experiences from Luck Presents! We’ve got some more things up our sleeve…
Luck is grateful to the sponsors below who keep our artists and attendees healthy, happy, and hydrated…from a distance.

Willie Nelson’s first-ever virtual Luck Reunion concert

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020
by: Matthew Leimkuehler

Nothing can replace the ritual of a concert. 

Stepping inside the venue sparks an unmistakable cocktail of anticipation and excitement – a feeling served best when minutes stand between you and a storyteller who’s penned the soundtrack to life’s never-ending turbulence. 

Side-by-side with like-minded listeners, a good show washes away all worry that awaits just outside the club doors. 

And, sure, the coronavirus temporary snagged that ritual from music faithful in Nashville and beyond. 

But listening helps. And at least 100,000 listened Thursday night as Luck Reunion hosted a virtual concert from basements, living rooms, studios and record stores around the world. 

Faced with cancellation this year, the self-described “annual anti-festival” instead asked performers to play online, where fans could watch and donate to a virtual tip jar. Dubbed “‘Till Further Notice,” acts could donate the tips to a charity or fellow performer in need. 

Artists – from Willie Nelson in Texas to Oh Boy Records newcomer Tre Burt in California to the soothing country of Temi Neilson in New Zealand – offered messages of hope and reminders to “stay safe” as music fans continue to practice social distance to combat the spreading virus. 

As Texas songwriter Paul Cauthen said, “Our world’s in a weird time, but with music and love we can get through anything.” 

Read below for highlights from the five-hour virtual jam.

‘We can lift that weight’

First: Nothing about a virtual concert feels “normal.” Artists called in from apartment corners and practice spaces, sometimes playing on laptop connections or one-shot camera feeds. 

Still, a good song can overcome the strangest circumstances – and Nashville noisemakers offered plenty Thursday night. 

Tenured songwriter Lucinda Williams busted “Bad Day Blues,” a riffy new cut from her upcoming album. Rounder Records newcomer Katie Pruitt offered a pair of sobering songs, reminding viewers not to give into “the fear and the panic.” Early James, an Alabama-based artist produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, brought a full band for his brand of tilted folk-rock. 

Devon Gilfillian, an East Nashville artist serving intergalactic soul, stripped down two fitting songs – “The Good Life” and “Lonely” – off his excellent new LP, “Black Hole Rainbow.” 

Devon Gilfillian performs live via a laptop as part of the Luck Reunion ‘Til Further Notice’ virtual concert Thursday, March 19, 2020.

“The whole nation and the whole world is in the same boat, feeling the weight coming down on them,” Gilfillian said. “Everyone coming together and staying on their own, we can lift that weight.” 

Nashville-based wife-husband duo Margo Price and Jeremy Ivey began a living room set with “1-800-Jesus,” a new tune from Price’s forthcoming album, “That’s How Rumors Get Started.” 

Candles burning on a piano in the background, the pair followed with a live duet favorite, “All Kind Of Blue.” 

Margo Price performs during the tornado relief benefit concert “To Nashville, With Love” at Marathon Music Works Monday, March 9, 2020.

“This is our first-ever livestream,” Price said, adding later: “We’re happy we have this to do because we finally cleaned up our house or at least this corner of it. … Everybody out there, they’re doing the same thing. We’re all in this together.” 

Performing songs off his new solo album, “And It’s Still Alright,” Denver-based soul-stomper Nathaniel Rateliff reminded viewers to “take care of each other.” Get the Entertainment newsletter in your inbox.

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“I hope in all of this … well you know –,” a tearful Rateliff said. “We find something good in all of this. We find something about ourselves and a better way to understand ourselves and each other.” 

Earlier in the show, Kurt Vile (and his daughter) popped by for three songs: “Hysteria,” “Loading Zones” and “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day.” 

Paul, Edie and … Woody Harrelson?  

Taking a brief step out of retirement, celebrated folk voice Paul Simon popped by the virtual carousel for a rendition of 1973’s timely “American Tune” (which Nelson covered in 1993). 

Joined moments later by songwriter-wife Edie Brickwell and an unbilled Woody Harrelson (yes, seriously), the group recited a tender cover of Everly Brothers’ classic “All I Do Is Dream.” 

“Stay safe everyone,” Simon said. “Stay well.” 

PAUL SIMON: 8 p.m. Bridgestone Arena, $45-$160

Closing with Willie Nelson and Neil Young

The surprise appearances wouldn’t stop with Harrelson’s “Dream” cameo, either. Fans who waited five hours for a few songs from the Nelson family would be greeted with a familiar face before the Luck Reunion headliner: Neil Young. 

Barefoot and behind his harmonica, Young performed “Vampire Blues,” singing that “good times are comin’/I hear it everywhere I go/ good times are comin’/ but they sure are slow.” 

MAY 17

The show closed with a family jam from Nelson with singer-songwriter sons Lukas and Micah Nelson. 

“Don’t forget to stop by the concession stands,” Nelson joked after kicking off the round with “Whiskey River.” 

The family shared songs, including Nelson’s classic “On The Road Again” and Lukas Nelson’s 2010 number, “Just Outside of Austin.” 

The family wrapped with Lukas Nelson’s poignant “Turn Off The News (Build A Garden).” 

‘Til Further Notice

Friday, March 20th, 2020

Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Steven Stills and others unite for benefit to fight autism (May 30, 2020)

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020
by: Scott Bernstein

Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Willie Nelson are among the performers who will appear at Light Up The Blues, a benefit to raise funds for Autism Speaks put on by Stills and his wife Kristen. Light Up The Blues 2020 will take place at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles on May 30.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real, Lucius, Fantastic Negrito, Oliver Stills and Chris Stills round out the lineup for this year’s event. Jack Black will serve as emcee. Light Up The Blues was first held in 2013 and was last held in 2018 at the smaller Dolby Theatre. Stephen Stills shared the stage with Neil Young at the 2018 benefit.

“It’s a logical progression for us,” Stephen told Rolling Stone of the move to a bigger venue. “They welcomed us with open arms. And if you go any bigger than it, it becomes a zoo. Neil [Young] warned me, ‘Go too big and suddenly it turns into a thing that eats up half your year.’” Young prompted the Stills to organize the benefit after they took a year off. “We had to move out of our house for about a year to get some work done,” Kristen Stills explained. “We knew that would be a good year not to plan a concert. But then Neil stopped by a year ago and said, ‘Let’s do it in 2020.’ That’s where it started.”

Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real will serve as house band for the benefit. Tickets go on sale this Friday, February 14 at 10 a.m. PT.

This day in Willie Nelson History: “We Are the World” (January 28, 1985)

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020


On January 28, 1985, Willie Nelson joined 43 other artists to record “We Are The World” under the name U.S.A. For Africa.


People Magazine
February 25, 1985

A sign outside Studio A bore a single admonition: “Please check your egos at the door.” Bold instructions, perhaps, since polished limousines were already nosing down La Brea Avenue toward these L.A. recording studios bearing 45 of the most luminous stars—and well-developed egos—in rock, pop and country music. Some, like Cyndi Lauper and Lionel Richie, were coming straight from the American Music Awards, an annual TV confection designed to pass out trophies and pull in Nielsens. Here at A & M’s studios, however, something far more substantial was about to take place. Before this glorious hard day’s night would end, the ego check-in counter would be the busiest spot in town.

Singers whose life-styles sometimes seem to celebrate excess were coming here to alleviate want. Their project: recording a song that could be used to raise funds for African famine relief. Their work would put a Yankee twist to a similar Band Aid project by British rockers that has raised nearly $9 million since December. But it would also make for one of the most moving nights in music history.

The progenitor of the project was singer Harry Belafonte who, impressed by the British famine effort and stunned by news accounts of the Ethiopian tragedy, had first conceived the American initiative last December.


Several days before Christmas, Belafonte called pal Ken Kragen, a high-octane manager, with fund-raising ideas. “He figured, after all, the national song charts are dominated by black artists,” says Kragen. “If Jews were starving in Israel, American Jews would have raised millions.” Belafonte initially suggested staging a megastar-studded concert. Too difficult to pull off, said Kragen, recalling the money woes of the 1971 performance for Bangladesh (see page 33). “Why not a record?” asked Kragen, whose interest in world hunger had first been aroused by the late Harry Chapin, an earlier singer client. “After all, the Band Aid people didn’t copyright the idea.” Kragen then contacted Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie, both of whom he also manages. Having taken over Chapin’s antihunger crusade in 1981 when the latter died, Rogers readily agreed to participate. So did Richie, who had spent the past several days talking about just such a project with his wife, Brenda.

Kragen next tried to phone Stevie Wonder, but without success. Then, shortly before Christmas, Brenda Richie was shopping in Beverly Hills when Wonder walked into the store to buy some jewelry. She helped him select several items and asked him to return the favor by telephoning her husband about a special project. He did—and was quickly enlisted.

Lionel, meanwhile, was busy contacting Michael Jackson, whom he had been seeing socially for several weeks. Michael, too, agreed to join—provided he could help write the song that would be recorded. No problem, said Lionel happily. Needing a producer for the record, Kragen rang up Quincy Jones, who dropped his work on a new album to donate his services to the project.

At the Jackson home in Encino, Michael and Lionel set to work writing the anthemlike song We Are the World. Progress came in bits and pieces. “I’d go into the room while they were writing,” remembers Michael’s sister, LaToya, “and it would be very quiet, which is odd, since Michael’s usually cheery when he works. It was very emotional for them. Some nights they’d just talk until 2 in the morning.”

In the days between Christmas and New Year’s, Kragen expanded his search for stars. “Basically, I started at the top of the record charts and began making phone calls,” he says. Steve Perry, lead singer and creative heart of Journey, came home to a message on his telephone answering machine. Sign me up, he said. Then Bruce Springsteen, on tour, was called. “Do they really want me?” asked the Boss modestly. Assured that he was indeed wanted, Springsteen also came aboard. “That was something of a turning point,” concedes Kragen. “It gave the project a great deal more stature in the eyes of others.”

Kragen’s final lineup—all of whom performed for free—reads like a Who’s Who of gold record collectors. Among them: Tina Turner, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Huey Lewis and Waylon Jennings. Jeffrey Osborne was approached by Richie just hours before the taping, while both were rehearsing for the American Music Awards. “Keep it silent,” cautioned Lionel. Kragen, who had first envisioned only 10 or 15 performers, eventually had trouble stopping the project’s momentum. “In the last week we went from 28 to more than 40 artists,” he says. “I had to turn down something like 50 or 60 performers who wanted to participate.”

Many of those who came did so with difficulty. Springsteen, because of his notoriously long concerts, never travels and seldom arises before 5 p.m. the day after a show. Yet the next afternoon, after finishing his American tour in Syracuse, N.Y., he boarded a plane and flew to L.A. Daryl Hall and John Oates were also in the East rehearsing for a tour that would start a week and a half after the taping. Stevie Wonder managed to get out of Philadelphia despite terrible weather. James Ingram flew in from London, and Paul Simon showed up despite having spent the entire previous night at work in a recording studio.

On the last Monday in January, as the American Music Awards were ending at the Shrine Auditorium across town, all was in readiness at A&M. Studio C had been set aside as a makeup room, Studio B stocked with fruit, cheese and juices for incoming singers. The building’s large Charlie Chaplin soundstage creaked under a $15,000 spread of roast beef, tortellini, imported cheese and other goodies for the performers’ guests—all provided gratis by Someone’s In The Kitchen catering. The onlookers and guests (each performer was allowed five) included Ali MacGraw, Jane Fonda, Dick Clark and many family members, and all watched the night’s proceedings through TV monitors and the lenses of five video cameras.

At 9 p.m. people began arriving in streams. “During the first hour it was impossible to get anything done,” says Osborne. “Everyone was congratulating each other, meeting people they hadn’t met before.” “Saying ‘hi;’ exchanging lies,” echoes Ray Charles. “It was just like Thanksgiving, all of us together.” Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters came with a camera and quickly shot some snaps of Michael Jackson (“I have two kids, and they would’ve killed me if I hadn’t”). Then sister June Pointer entered the studio with Bruce Springsteen, and the pair plopped down together on the only chair then available.

Bob Dylan showed typical reserve at first, sitting off by himself. But even the legendary loner couldn’t withstand the warmth. Hours later he could be found in a corner, rehearsing his solo lines as Stevie Wonder accompanied him on the piano, singing in Dylan’s own nasal style. Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham found himself chatting with Harry Belafonte. When Buckingham mentioned how much he loved Belafonte’s Calypso classic, The Banana Boat Song, everyone nearby suddenly broke into a spontaneous chorus of day-o’s. Ray Charles asked for a drink of water, and another singer volunteered to lead him to the fountain. Stevie Wonder. And so it went. “For me, the first couple hours were highly charged,” says Kenny Loggins. “I’ve never before felt that strong a sense of community.”

Around 10 p.m. the sheet music was passed out, and several people stepped forth to address the group. Kragen talked of plans for the funds they hoped to raise. Mindful of the decade-long “Bangladesh situation, I assured the artists that if it came down to seeing that the money got to the right places, I would go over with the supplies personally.” Then Bob Geldof, leader of the Boomtown Rats and organizer of the British Band Aid singalong, offered a moving speech about his own travels in Ethiopia, telling of a “good day” in one village he had visited when only five people had died. “Geldof’s opening speech was pretty intense,” noted Loggins later. “You could hear the truth in his voice.”

After Michael Jackson shyly described the piece he and Richie had written—”a love song to inspire concern about a faraway place close to home”—the taping began. Quincy Jones sat on a stool directing his multi-million dollar chorus, Richie on a chair next to him, Michael with the others but off to one side. At one point during the long hours that followed, emotions swept up the 400 guests, who joined the singing from their soundproof stage. During a break, Brenda Richie took orders for Fat Burgers (from Springsteen, Dionne Warwick and others) and sent a chauffeur off to a nearby hamburger stand.

By 3 a.m. the choral section of the song was recorded, and only the solo sections remained. “Everybody was drained, but also hanging on to the thread of magic in the night,” says Ingram. “You could see the fatigue on people’s faces,” remembers Osborne. The group took another break and, prompted by Diana Ross, began autographing each other’s sheet music. Suddenly Wonder came into the room with two African women, representatives of the very people the performers were trying to help. The women, nervous and exhausted, spoke through trembling lips in their native Swahili, thanking the group for all they were doing. Says Ingram, “Everybody was humbled.”

Then Jones positioned the 21 soloists in a semicircle around him. Starting with Ritchie, they all sang their parts, and the singing moved round and round the semicircle until it was completed. Loggins was stationed between Springsteen and Steve Perry during the solos; Springsteen sang his part in a huge, booming voice. “I wanted to do my very best,” Loggins says, “and with Springsteen belting his line like a loud Joe Cocker, I wondered how I should do mine.” Just be yourself, Perry advised. “I think that pretty much sums up how everybody was acting,” says Loggins.

By dawn most of the performers had finished. Dylan and Springsteen, obviously drained by the marathon, remained until around 7:30. His own solo work long since completed, Perry also stuck around to witness the ending. Osborne, after trading a few ad lib vocal licks with Wonder, Richie and others, finally walked out the studio door with Michael Jackson sometime before 8. Off to one side an exhausted Diana Ross sat on the floor, tears filling her eyes. “I just don’t want this to end,” she said.

But end it did, for the moment. Kragen, predicting profits of $150 million from the undertaking, quickly went to work pulling together the fund-raising album that would follow and arranging the single’s release in mid-March. Linda Ronstadt, who had missed the taping because of flu, agreed early on to supply one of the LP’s solo tracks. Prince, recipient of three of the American Music Awards earlier in the night, had passed up the group sing and instead went to a West Hollywood nightspot; later that night his bodyguards were involved in a scuffle with photographers and were arrested by police. Finally, at 6 a.m., the diminutive rocker phoned Jones, offering to lay down a guitar track for the group’s single. Jones declined that contribution but agreed to accept a solo cut for the LP instead. Another track would be taped two weeks later in Toronto, where a group of Canadian artists—including Bryan Adams, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young—gathered to create their own Band Aid-style recording for famine relief.

For the Americans who did take part in the all-night recording session, the rewards were greater than any royalties they might have sacrificed. They had come hoping to help a cause, and in the process discovered their own community. Afterward, most of the musicians quickly resumed the projects they had so suddenly interrupted. Tina Turner flew to New York the next day to start rehearsing for her Saturday Night Live performance later that week. Hall and Oates returned East to prepare for their own four-month road trip and Dionne Warwick jetted to Las Vegas where she performed that night at the Golden Nugget. For some, the sense of purpose felt at the all-night session wouldn’t fade with the dawn. Harry Belafonte, self-effacing initiator of the project, boarded a plane the following day for Washington, D.C. There, one day later, he was arrested while picketing outside the South African embassy.

  • Contributors: Jonathan Cooper, Lisa Russell, Mary Shaughnessy.