The mid-’80s was the high point of the mass cause-singing artist, from “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” from BandAid. in the United States for “We Are the World” from Africa, to “Sun City” from Artists United Against Apartheid. And in 1986, the world of hard rock and heavy metal entered this humanitarian space with Hear ‘N Aid, a philanthropic project orchestrated by Ronnie James Dio and Dio band members Vivian Campbell and Jimmy Bain.
The result was the single “Stars”, which featured members of Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, WASP, Twisted Sister, Spinal Tap, Night Ranger and more rocking out for a cause alongside Dio and Co.
Also on board? Dokken members George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Don Dokken, who recently recalled his experiences with Hear ‘n Aid in an interview with sound louder.
Regarding how he and his bandmates got involved in the project, Dokken said the offer came through a phone call from Dio. “I had known Ronnie forever, our bands had played together many times, and he explained the idea and the fact that the record was for a good cause,” Dokken recalled. “When Ronnie James Dio asks for your help, you go, so myself, George and Jeff signed up immediately. Michael Jackson had done ‘We Are the World’ before, but no one from our world was invited to be a part of it, so it was cool that we got to do our part too.
As for the memorable white suit he wore at the taping? He explained, “I knew Rob Halford and Geoff Tate and all the metal guys would show up in their black leather jackets, so I wore a white suit to the session to stand out. There’s a documentary about the making of the record and at one point you can hear Ronnie Dio jokingly say to me, “Hey Don, QG the magazine called you…”, which reflected a bit of the relaxed and good-natured spirit of the time.
Dokken went on to say that he “knew everyone there, and honestly, I didn’t like some of those people that much, so I hadn’t planned on hanging around all day watching everyone get drunk. , take coke and talk shit : I asked Ronnie my timeslot, and I remember I was booked to sing at 4pm, so I arrived at 3pm, nailed my lines I stayed for the photo call with all the other musicians and then went home I know there was a real party afterwards with about 200 people packed into a bar on the other side of the street that could hold maybe 80 people, but at that time our lives in Dokken were spent partying, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.”
Overall, Dokken recalled the sessions as a great experience. “It was cool to be on the Hear ‘n Aid taping,” he said. “I remember some people were shocked that guys in hard rock and heavy metal bands cared about everyone but ourselves, like we were all freaks with nothing but drugs, girls and money in mind. That says more about these people than about us. It’s a moment in hard rock history that we can all be proud of.”