GEOFF TATE Looks Back On His Guest Appearance On HEAR 'N AID's 'Stars': 'I Was Scared S**tless'
March 30, 2021
In a recent interview with Dr. Music, former QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate 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", Tate told Dr. Music (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Ronnie was very special. And he actually gave QUEENSRŸCHE its first start touring in Europe — invited us as special guests on his tour. He was an incredibly giving individual — especially when he liked a person or a group or somebody's music, he was very supportive. And we had just finished our first European tour with them, and he called and asked if I'd be part of this project that he was doing. And I, of course, immediately said yes. I always said yes to Ronnie, whenever he wanted something. I had so much respect for him and his wonderful career; he was just a wonderful person.
"Anyway, I flew down to L.A. and walked into A&M Studios, and it was just a zoo — a madhouse," he continued. "It was the most people I'd ever seen crammed in one building — hundreds and hundreds of people in the lobby and outside. It was pandemonium, actually. I got in somehow; I had the credentials — I picked them up at the front desk at the hotel. I got in there, and Ronnie met me at the door. He gave me a big hug and ushered me in. He said, 'Okay, I'm glad you're here. You're just on time. We're ready to have you do your vocal tracks. Are you ready? Or do you wanna warm up? Do you want something to drink?' I walked into the recording studio part, and he showed me the microphone. And there was a chair and a table, and some water glasses. And the lyrics to the song were up there and headphones. And he goes, 'Okay, sit here. We'll do a couple of playbacks so you kind of get used to it and get your headphone volumes.' He goes, 'I'll just be on the other side of the glass.' I look over, and in the control room are all those people [that are featured in the photo on the cover]. I mean, Ted Nugent's in there, and Rob Halford's in there, and Neal Schon is in there, Jonathan Cain… The list goes on and on. Everybody that's basically on the record is standing there. And I am just, like, petrified. This is my third time I've been in the studio in my life. I'm 25 years old, and it was really early on in my career. And I was so scared. And now I have to perform in front of these amazing, accomplished musicians who've done more in their life than I could ever dream of doing. Oh, God. I couldn't even take off my sunglasses. You see every photo of me on that day, and I had my sunglasses on. I couldn't live without 'em. I was hiding in my own scene, inside my own head. And then I hear Ronnie coming over the headphones: 'Geoff, are you there? Are you there?' [Laughs] I really wanted to take those headphones off and run away; I was so nervous. But he talked me through it and got me calmed down. He was the kind of guy that could always sense what was going on around him; he was pretty intuitive. And I think he was probably hip to the fact that I was scared shitless, as they say. But that's the way I felt — just scared shitless.
"But it turned out okay, and everybody was cool," Tate added. "We had a good time. And the record was great. So different and weird and strange, with all those guitar solos. What a way to make a song. But it was cool and different. And I was really proud to be a part of it. And I was really proud that [Ronnie] asked me to do it.
"And honestly, even though it was a monumental experience for me at the time, I didn't really completely appreciate it till much later, and looking back on it and realizing, oh, this was a pretty incredible record. And what it did — it raised so much money and so much awareness from a whole different segment of society, which was really important."
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."