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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Out There!: "Stars" by Hear N' Aid

Not only is 2010 the 25th anniversary of We Are The World and Tears Are Not Enough, but the anniversary of the charity tune to aid Africa from the heavy metal community. Well kind of!! The tune was simply titled "Stars", another 1986 charity single which just might be one of the cheesiest hard rock songs of all time. Do you know even realize that this happened!

During a 48 hour radio telethon at Los-Angeles rock station KLOS in 1985, Dio guitarists Jimmy Bain and Vivian Campbell (who would later join forces with Whitesnake and Def Leppard) noticed there was a total lack of hard rockers present on other charity tunes such as Do They Know It's Christmas? and We Are The World. So with the help of Ronnie James Dio, the three of them wrote a song to unite the hard rockers of the 80's. The name of the smorgasbord of rock legends was Hear N'Aid. How these three guys were able to put it together is still a mystery? They probably has to convince their hard rock pals to show up by promising more booze, drugs, and groupies. It wouldn't even surprise me if half of the rockers on the track were totally stoned while recording. They might even have thought all proceeds from the single would go towards obtaining the best cocaine on the market for them and their bands in the future.

Recorded in May of 1985 at the A&M Studios in Hollywood, Hear N' Aid comprised 40 of the top names in hard rock. Not only did "Stars" feature the pipes of hard rock singers with massive egos but unlike other charity tunes, there would be a guitar solo meltdown in the middle of the track with guitar heroes like Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch, Neil Schon from Journey, Carlos Cavazo from Quiet Riot, Brad Gillis from Night Ranger, Eddie Ojeda from Twisted Sister, Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult, and Vivian Campbell himself. Also, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden laid down the rhythm melodies, while Jimmy Bain handled bass, Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot) and Vinny Appice (Dio) hit the skins, and Claude Snell (Dio) played keyboards.

The solo vocalists were: Eric Bloom (Blue Öyster Cult), Ronnie James Dio (Dio), Don Dokken (Dokken), Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot), Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Dave Meniketti (Y&T), Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt) and Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche)

Backing vocalists included: Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy Osbourne),Dave Alford (Rough Cutt), Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge/King Kobra), Vinny Appice (Dio), Jimmy Bain (Dio), Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot), Mick Brown (Dokken), Vivian Campbell (Dio), Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot), Amir Derakh (Rough Cutt), Buck Dharma (Blue Öyster Cult), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger), Craig Goldy (Giuffria), Chris Hager (Rough Cutt), Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P.), Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.), George Lynch (Dokken), Yngwie Malmsteen, Mick Mars (Mötley Crüe), Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap), Dave Murray (Iron Maiden), Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe), Ted Nugent, Eddie Ojeda (Twisted Sister), Jeff Pilson (Dokken), Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot), Claude Schnell (Dio), Neal Schon (Journey), Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap), Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge), and Matt Thorr (Rough Cutt).

Unfortunately, Ozzy Osbourne was probably face down on a highway with no recollection how he got there, and Tommy Lee was banging ten groupies at a time that day which is why these legends could not participate. (I'm just making this up, although it could be true!)

The song itself is just really cheesy, so naturally I love it! I didn't remember it when it was released in 1986, but thanks to one of the many I Love The 80's shows on VH1 in 2002, I discovered this tune and immediately had to learn more about it. Ronnie Dio and his two guitarists must have snorting cocaine off of a mirror when writing this song. Listen to the lyrics to the chorus, they are simple and retarded. The chorus is simply "We're Stars!" Who is the benefit single for, the starving Africans or the metal stars themselves? I understand that Dio and his boys were relevant, but didn't need to be reminded who they are in order to throw some dollars to the needy. I love the ultimate cheese of this video with all these drunk and coked up rock stars all together singing a tune for charity. Just look at Ted Nugent's face as he sings, it's hilarious!

What is kind of funny is that even though the song was recorded in 1985, due to contractual issues with the various record labels representing the bands on the project, Stars wasn't even released until 1986 when the whole relief thing died down. The impact of the single was lost, maybe that's why I didn't even see the video on MTV back then. And you can only imagine how many hours a day I spent watching MTV! Even so, Dio claimed the album which featured the single along with eight live tracks from other major hard rock acts like KISS, Motorhead, Accept, and the Scorpions raised $1 million for famine relief. Of course there was also merchandise such as T-shirts, buttons, and posters sold. Oh! how I would love to be able to find some of this stuff at a garage sale! I would even buy a shirt at the right price. Dio had written a sequel called Runaway Children for a charity he was involved in to aid families of runaways, and because of a lack of interest, he eventually just recorded it on his 2002 album, Killing The Dragon. Rumors have surfaced that Dio did in fact write yet another sequel to "Stars", and although he is attempting to beat cancer, maybe he can either oversee production of this song for a new generation of metal fans and kids who love playing Guitar Hero. Or maybe Dio can expand on the original and write a better chorus. If We Are The World is being redone, why not Stars? Let's get Gene Simmons, Lemmy, Slash, Joe Perry, Dave Draiman from Disturbed among others and record a much heavier version of "Stars". Even if it's not a hit single, the unintentional comedy would be off the charts.

Ladies and gentlemen... Watch the video below and be prepared to laugh your ass off!!! It's "Stars" by Hear N' Aid.

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