W.A.S.P.'s BLACKIE LAWLESS Looks Back On HEAR 'N AID's 'Stars': 'If Anybody Had An Ego In There, They Didn't Show It'

December 16, 2022

W.A.S.P. frontman Blackie Lawless has 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.

Lawless spoke about his experience recording "Stars" during a "VIP Experience" question-and-answer session before W.A.S.P.'s December 11 concert at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Ken Kragen was the guy that produced that, and Ken was also — he passed away, like, two years ago — Ken was the guy that put together 'We Are The World' [with] Michael Jackson and Ray Charles and all those guys. Actually, in the same room at A&M Records where they had done that. Well, as the story went, Ken had a big sign posted on the front door, when you walked in the studio: 'Check your ego at the door.' Well, when we got there, the same sign was on the door. But the odd part about it was once you got in the room, the sign was not necessary at all. Because you're looking around the room at all those faces you recognize, and if anybody had an ego in there, they didn't show it. Because it humbles you when you're in there with that kind of talent. As a matter of fact, Ronnie came out at one point… When we started the group thing when we were in the room, and Ronnie came out after about ten, fifteen minutes, he goes, 'C'mon, guys. Loosen up. You're all so stiff out here.' So that's when I went down and got Kevin DuBrow [QUIET RIOT] on my shoulders and started loosening up. And plus, there was an open bar. And the longer that went on, people got loose."

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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