A quiet day at the Kragen & Co. management offices in Los Angeles home base of the celebrated U.S.A. for Africa charity project turned into a flurry of activity last Wednesday with the arrival of some jarring news.
Someone had leaked a copy of "We Are The World" the song recorded by 45 American pop superstars to raise money for Ethiopian famine victims to the ABC radio network, and the radio moguls had rushed the song onto its satellite and out to its affiliates two days before it was supposed to break.
CBC Records, which is distributing the record and turning the net profits over to U.S.A. for Africa, accused the Kragen office of letting the record out. Some of Kragen's people said the same about CBS. A few skeptical eyebrows were raised in the direction of record producer Quincy Jones.
But in the end, Ken Kragen, manager of Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers, and organizer of the U.S.A. for Africa session, decided he didn't mind.
"This just shows what a hot piece of property this is," Kragen said.
And he hopes the record stays hot to the tune of $50 million to help alleviate hunger in Africa and in the U.S.
Chances are it will. Last December, British pop performers collaborated under the name Band Aid to record a single called "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and raised more than $9 million. But though "We Are The World" will be in stores Monday, Kragen isn't stopping with a single song.
Within the next month, a collection of U.S.A. for Africa merchandise will be released to the public to generate additional funds T-shirts and sweatshirts, posters, a picture-book from the 10-hour recording session, staged January 28 after the American Music Awards ceremony, and a 60-minute videocassette on the making of the record.
That's not to mention a U.S.A. for Africa album, due out in April, which will have "We Are The World" and previously unreleased tracks from Bruce Springsteen (a moving rendition of Jimmy Cliff's "Trapped"), Prince, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Perry, Lionel Richie and a Canadian all-star group spearheaded by Bryan Adams and producer David Foster.
Pop Artists Sing For Famine Victims
Detroit Free Press