Most of you reading this are probably too young to remember, but back in the 1980s rock stars loved getting together to record songs for charity. They didn’t love it as much as cocaine, but celebrity supergroups where probably a close second. The two most well-known of these were Band-Aid, a supergroup organized by Bob Geldof that raised money to fight hunger in Africa with “Do They Know It’s Christmas;” a song that portrayed the continent as a Mad Maxian hellspcape, and USA For Africa, which was led by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and also raised millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa with the (noticeably less bleak) song “We Are the World.” Each of these projects raised millions of dollars for their respective causes and had the added bonus of inspiring Vivian Campbell and Jimmie Bain of Dio to approach Ronnie James Dio with an idea for a heavy metal and hard rock version of these groups.
The three went to work writing a song that would eventually be called simply “Stars,” and on May 20th and 21st assembled a murderer’s row of heavy weight singers and guitarists to record the song at A & M Studios in Hollywood, California under the name Hear ‘n Aid. Among the participants were Dio himself, Rob Halford, Chris Holmes and Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.), Yngwie Malmsteen, Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot), Ted Nugent, Don Dokken (Dokken), Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe), and Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche). Dio intended for the song to be released as a single shortly after it was recorded, but some legal malarkey with the record labels involved held the release up until New Years Day of 1986 when “Stars” finally saw the light of day. Dio and company also released a making-off documentary to and a full album featuring some additional songs by artists like Accept, Rush, and Motörhead to accompany the song. “Stars” peaked at #26 at the UK Singles chart in 1986, and, according to Ronnie James Dio, it raised $1 million that first year.
Now, nearly 30 years after the initial release of “Stars,” Dio’s widow Wendy has announced her intention to release the original song with loads of bonus material. On a recent interview with SiriusXM’s Eddie Trunk she said, “We are in talks right now with a couple of record labels to reissue Hear ‘n Aid, with the funds going to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund. She went on to say, “We have so much stuff that was never released before — behind-the-scenes stuff that was shot during the whole time. We have photos galore of everybody that was involved in it, and I think it’ll be fantastic. We just have to work on it. It may not come out this year, because I want everything to be perfect, as Ronnie would want it to be, but I am in talks about it, and that will be coming out, definitely.”
Additionally, Wendy stated that a new Hear ‘n Aid track will be recorded for charity, although she didn’t reveal the names of anyone involved. Just that the line-up would consist of current and classic artists and proceeds would go to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund and it probably wouldn’t be out this year due again to legal bullcrap with some record labels. Below you’ll find the video for the original version of “Stars.” Yeah it’s cheesy, but it’s also a lot of fun and it was for a good cause. Keep your eyes peeled for more news regarding the new incarnation of Hear ‘n Aid.