They "checked their egos at the door" only to later check out too soon. One of the biggest recording events of all time, "We Are The World" set the bar for so-called charity records - this time, for famine relief in Africa. Singers on the record included Michael Jackson, Waylon Jennings, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and roughly 35 other superstars of the day. It was produced by Quincy Jones. The historic secret recording session took place at A&M Studios immediately after the January 28, 1985 taping of the American Music Awards. The single was released on March 7, 1985, and ultimately sold over 20 million copies - one of the most successful records of all time.
List Photo: Zoran Veselinovic/via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0
Died February 13, 2002
Part of the chorus, but left the session early reportedly upset after Stevie Wonder wanted to have one of the lines sung in Swahili.
Courtesy Of The Music's Over
Waylon Jennings was a hugely influential country singer, songwriter and musician who was one of the pioneers of the genre’s "outlaw" movement of the ’70s. Jennings learned to play the guitar and formed his own band before he even hit his teen years. One of Jennings’ first jobs in music was as a disc jockey at a local Texas radio station. It was there that he met an up-and-coming rockabilly singer named Buddy Holly. Before long, Jennings was playing bass in Holly’s band. On February 3, 1959, Jennings career path suffered a tragic setback when Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Ritchie Valens all perished in a plane crash while they were on tour of the Midwest. The accident, which has been memorialized as "the day the music died," almost claimed Jennings’ life as well. At the last minute Jennings gave up his seat to Richardson who hadn’t been feeling well. As the musicians were boarding the plane, Holly quipped to Jennings, "I hope your ‘ol bus freezes up." Jennings’ retort, "Well, I hope your ‘ol plane crashes" haunted him for the rest of his life. Jennings took a hiatus from performing and moved to Arizona where he went back to DJ’ing. By the mid ’60s, he was making music again. As he began building a following, Jennings met resistance from the Nashville music community for in part, not using the usual session players for his records. Jennings was adamant that he would only use his traveling band in the studio. And the rock edge to his music fell outside what was perceived as the "Nashville Sound," a more slick country-pop. This "outlaw" movement began to take hold as fellow country men like Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson who preferred to hang on to country’s honky tonk roots. Over the course of his career, Jennings released a series of top-selling and influential country records. That list includes Honky Tonk Heroes, Waylon Live, Are You Ready For The Country Lonesome, On’ry and Mean, Good Hearted Woman, and Dreaming My Dreams. His collaborations with the likes of Nelson, Jessi Colter, the Highwaymen and the Outlaws were critically and commercially acclaimed as well. Jennings stayed active through the ’90s even as his health began to fail due to diabetes. On February 13, 2002, the disease claimed Waylon Jennings’ life. He was 64.
#308 on The Best Singers of All Timesee more on Waylon Jennings
Died June 10, 2004
Sang the final full chorus with Dob Dylan
Courtesy Of The Music's Over
Ray Charles was one of America’s greatest voices. He was called "the only true genius in the business" by none other than Frank Sinatra. The son of a share cropper, Charles lost his sight at the age of five. While attending a school for the deaf and blind, Charles was taught classical piano, but after his mother died, he left the school and changed his focus to the music he loved and would forever be associated with. By the time he was 17, he was making records for Swing Time Records, scoring his first R&B hit, "Confession Blues" in 1949. In 1951, Ahmet Ertegun signed him to Atlantic Records, starting him down the road that would eventually lead him to the status of American icon. Ray Charles died of liver cancer on June 10, 2004.
#41 on The Best Rock Vocalists
#22 on The Best Singers of All Timesee more on Ray Charles
#8 on Famous People Named Junesee more on June Pointer
Died June 25, 2009
Co-wrote the song with Lionel Richie. At the time, he was arguably the biggest "star" on the record since came out not long after the release of his highly success Thriller album.
Courtesy Of The Music's Over
Michael Jackson was arguably the most iconic and influential performer popular music has ever known. Coming from working class beginnings in Gary, Indiana, Jackson and his brothers began entertaining audiences along the chitlin’ circuit as the Jackson Five. Young Michael was just six years old at the time. Within just a few years, the group was topping the music charts with songs like "ABC" and "I’ll Be There," while becoming a brand within itself thanks to many television appearances including a cartoon based on their likenesses. In 1978, now out on his own, Jackson played the part of the Scarecrow in the The Wiz, a musical adaptation of the Wizard Of Oz. It was while working on the film that Jackson met music producer, Quincy Jones who agreed to produce Off The Wall, his breakthrough album. In 1982, Thriller was released, and the world changed. With a slew of pop hits and the dynamic music videos that accompanied them, Jackson was tailor made for the young MTV. Jackson’s fame and record sales skyrocketed. Thriller went on to become one of the greatest selling albums of all times. On March 25, 1983 Jackson performed on a television special celebrating the 25th anniversary of Motown Records. During his performance of "Billie Jean," Jackson shocked and amazed nearly 50 million viewers with his "moonwalk" dance move, a moment that has been likened to the Beatles’ and Elvis Presley’s appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. In the coming years, other notable Michael Jackson milestones included the release of Bad and Dangerous; his writing of, and performance in the superstar-studded charity anthem "We Are The World;" and a mind-blowing half-time performance at the 1993 Super Bowl. It was the first time a single entertainer had ever done the entire half-time show. In early 2009, after several years of legal and financial troubles, Michael Jackson began to put together plans for a comeback. Unfortunately, during the morning hours of June 25, Jackson reportedly collapsed in the home he was renting. After paramedics arrived and tried to revive him, Jackson apparently fell into a coma and was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead after going into cardiac arrest.
#24 on The Best Rock Vocalistssee more on Michael Jackson