DON DOKKEN Looks Back On HEAR 'N AID's 'Stars': 'I Couldn't Tell Who's Who Singing'

August 20, 2020

In a recent interview with "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz", Don Dokken looked back on his involvement with "Stars", the 1985 charity single for famine relief released under the HEAR 'N AID banner.

On May 20 and May 21, 1985, 40 artists from the metal community gathered at A&M Records Studios in Hollywood, California to participate in the making of a record called "Stars" as a part of a very special fundraising project spearheaded by Ronnie James Dio known as HEAR 'N AID. The "Stars" single and a video documentary on the making of the record was used to raise money for famine relief efforts in Africa and around the world. These 40 artists — including members of MÖTLEY CRÜE, JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, QUIET RIOT, TWISTED SISTER, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT and even SPINAL TAP — along with hundreds of other volunteers, donated their time and talent over four months to make HEAR 'N AID a reality. "Stars" was a plea for unity in the fight against world hunger.

Speaking about his experience recording "Stars", Dokken told "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz": "Yeah, that was wonderful. 'Cause we had toured with DIODOKKEN and DIO did a tour together. So Ronnie and I became very good friends on that tour. I didn't think that I had anything in common with Ronnie, but it turned out, on the tour, we had a lot in common. Every time I'd get in a hotel in the morning, he'd be reading the sports page. He was into football, baseball and basketball. Ronnie was a very learned man and well educated, and we'd talk about stuff like that. And he was just a really great guy.'

Regarding his vocal performance on "Stars", Don said: "At least you can recognize me, right? That was the problem on that album. No offense to all those singers, but I couldn't tell who's who singing. I said, 'Ronnie, can I just be me and just sing like me and not try to sound like you?' 'Cause it was his song. But everybody always says, yeah, you can hear my vocal lines; you can tell it's me. That was a big plus, 'cause I didn't wanna sound like the other singers; I just wanted to sound like myself."

Due to contract differences with the labels, the "Stars" song and album weren't released until New Year's Day, 1986, and were only ever made available on vinyl and cassette. But Ronnie's wife and manager Wendy Dio has said in recent years that she is continuing her efforts to correct that.

Wendy previously revealed that one of the reasons the HEAR 'N AID reissue was taking so long to come out was the "legal stuff" that needed to be taken care of. "You can always get the bands to do something, but it's the legal licensing of talking with the record labels they're on and the management and so on, to get something off the ground," she said. "So we're hoping to do that."

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