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Thursday, July 11, 2024

Who cried for the children? They did

 Hear’n Aid: when rockers proved they care as much as pop stars 

In 1986, the heavy metal music community united for a noble cause through the Hear 'n Aid project. This initiative, led by Ronnie James Dio, aimed to raise money for famine relief in Africa. It was inspired by the successful charity efforts of Band Aid and USA for Africa, and sought to leverage the popularity and influence of the heavy metal genre to make a positive impact.

Reasons for the Project

The mid-1980s saw a significant rise in global awareness of the severe famine in Ethiopia, prompting numerous charity events and projects to provide aid. The most notable among these were Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and USA for Africa's "We Are the World." These projects were highly successful, raising millions of dollars for famine relief. However, the heavy metal community, despite its vast following, had not yet contributed to this wave of charitable efforts. Hear 'n Aid was conceived to fill this gap, demonstrating that the metal genre and its fans could also play a crucial role in addressing global issues.

Ronnie James Dio and Key Participants

Ronnie James Dio, a legendary figure in heavy metal known for his powerful voice and dynamic stage presence, spearheaded the Hear 'n Aid project. Dio was moved by the suffering in Africa and inspired by the efforts of his peers in other musical genres. He envisioned a similar initiative within the metal community, leveraging its unique style and fan base to raise funds and awareness.

Dio was joined by Jimmy Bain, his bandmate from Dio, and Vivian Campbell, who was also a member of the Dio band at the time. Together, they recruited a veritable who's who of the heavy metal world. This included prominent musicians such as Rob Halford of Judas Priest, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden, and Ted Nugent. Other notable participants were Geoff Tate from Queensrÿche, Kevin DuBrow from Quiet Riot, and members of bands like Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister, and Blue Öyster Cult.

Each participant brought their unique talent to the project, contributing vocals, guitar solos, and other instrumental work to create a powerful and cohesive track.

 The Music and Formats

The Hear 'n Aid project produced a charity single titled "Stars," which was released in both 7-inch and 12-inch versions. The single featured an all-star lineup of heavy metal musicians and was a monumental collaboration in the genre's history. The 7-inch version of "Stars" provided a more accessible format for fans, while the 12-inch version included additional content for collectors and enthusiasts.

In addition to the single, the project released a full-length charity album titled "Hear 'n Aid." The album not only featured the "Stars" track but also included contributions from various metal bands who donated songs to support the cause. The accompanying VHS video provided fans with a behind-the-scenes look at the recording process, showcasing the collaboration and camaraderie among the musicians involved.

#### Sales and Impact

"Stars" and the Hear 'n Aid album achieved considerable success, particularly within the heavy metal community. The single and album sales generated significant funds for famine relief, proving that heavy metal fans were as compassionate and charitable as any other music audience.

Although exact sales figures are hard to pinpoint, estimates suggest that the project raised over a million dollars for the cause. This money was directed towards alleviating the suffering in Africa, providing food, medical supplies, and other essential aid.

Track Listing of the Hear 'n Aid Album

The Hear 'n Aid album featured a diverse collection of tracks donated by various artists. The track listing is as follows:

1. **"Stars"** - Hear 'n Aid

2. **"Up to the Limit"** - Accept

3. **"On the Road"** - Motorhead

4. **"Distant Early Warning"** - Rush

5. **"Heaven's on Fire"** - Kiss

6. **"Can You See Me"** - Jimi Hendrix

7. **"Hungry for Heaven"** - Dio

8. **"The Zoo"** - Scorpions

9. **"Go for the Throat"** - Y&T

The Hear 'n Aid project stands as a testament to the power of music to bring people together for a common cause. Spearheaded by Ronnie James Dio and supported by a host of heavy metal icons, it demonstrated that the genre could be a force for good. Through their efforts, they not only raised substantial funds for famine relief but also showcased the generosity and solidarity of the metal community. The project remains a significant and memorable moment in the history of heavy metal music.

Hear the full album version on YouTube:

Watch the making of promo video:

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