Hear 'n Aid

Hear 'n Aid was a charity record recorded by a large ensemble of 40 heavy metal musicians, and released in 1986. The project was organized by Ronnie James Dio, Jimmy Bain, and Vivian Campbell, all from the band Dio. Proceeds from the album were used to raise money for famine relief in Africa.[1]

Hear 'n Aid
Hear 'n Aid 1986.jpg
Compilation album by
Various Artists
Released01 January, 1986
Recorded20–21 May 1985
StudioSound City Studios
A&M Records Studios
(Los Angeles, California)
GenreHeavy metal
LabelPolyGram Records
Producer"Stars" Track - Ronnie James Dio, Other Tracks - Various
Singles from Hear 'n Aid
  1. "Stars"
    Released: 1986
Hear 'N Aid
GenresHard rock, heavy metal
Years active1985 (1985)
Associated actsBand Aid
USA for Africa
Northern Lights

The 40 musicians which had been gathered together by Dio recorded the single "Stars" together; the rest of the album was filled out with eight other tracks, several of which were contributed by artists who were on tour and unable to attend and participate in the mass recording session. A music video was released as well, produced during the recording sessions.

Release and receptionEdit

Dio had originally intended the single and album to be released shortly after its recording, but contractual issues with the different artists' record labels delayed the release until January 1, 1986, somewhat diminishing the impact of its release.

The compilation album titled "Hear 'n Aid" or alternatively appearing as "Hear 'n Aid (An All-Star Album For Famine Relief)" was headed by "Stars", and included live tracks by Kiss, Motörhead, Dio, Accept, Rush, Scorpions, Y&T and a studio recording by Jimi Hendrix was released on vinyl and cassette tape formats.

The "Stars" single was released on vinyl in both 7" and 12" versions. The back of the record sleeve for the single had the following description: "On May 20 and 21, 1985, 40 artists from the hard rock music community gathered at A&M Records Studios to participate in the making of a record called "Stars", as part of a very special project known as Hear 'N Aid. The "Stars" single, coupled with the album, a video documentary on the making of the record, and other ancillary products will raise money for famine relief efforts in Africa and around the world. 40 artists and hundreds of volunteers donated their time and talent over four months to make Hear 'N Aid a reality. "Stars" is a plea for unity in the fight against world hunger."[2]

The following CD release info needs verification as Wendy Dio indicated as late as 2011 that it was only ever released on Vinyl and Cassette.[3]

The Hear 'n Aid album was released in CD format in the U.S. in May of 1994. (Mercury/Phonogram 826-044-2 (US, CD Reissue, 5/94). Allmusic references a CD re-release on 13 June 2000 with catalog of PolyGram #4218.[4] Kissmonster references a CD re-release: Japanese import Vertigo PHCR-4218 (Japan, CD Reissue, 11/94)[5]

The project also released a 30 minute Sony home video documentary, Hear 'n Aid: The Sessions which was shot during the recording process and released on VHS and Video8 formats.[6]

The back cover for the video documentary has the following description: "Hear 'N Aid: The Sessions" documents the making of a record, a very special record called "Stars", that will raise money for famine relief. It is a behind-the-scenes journey through the process of rock 'n roll record-making, from the basic tracks through vocal solos an chorus to performances by 11 stellar guitarists that form a single guitar solo. 40 artists from the hard rock music community and hundreds of volunteers donated their time and talent over four months to make Hear 'N Aid a reality. "Stars" is a plea for unity in the fight against world hunger.

The "Stars" single peaked at #26 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1986.[7]

On 31 May 2004, VH1 premiered a five-night documentary special entitled "100 Most Metal Moments" narrated by Dee Snider,[8] and at the conclusion Hear 'n Aid was ranked as the #1 Most Metal Moment. "...the song and video for 'We're Stars' stands as a stirring tribute to all things metal." [9]

The music video for the single "Stars" received moderate airplay on MTV's Heavy Metal Mania [10] and afterward on MTV's replacement program Headbangers Ball.[11] During the period of high popularity of MySpace, Ronnie James Dio's profile[12] contained an entry crediting the project with having raised $1 million within a year. In a 2017 article written for Classic Rock Magazine,[13] Ronnie's wife and manager, Wendy Dio estimated the project's total amount raised to be in excess of $3 million.


In interview video footage taken during the event, Ronnie said that while attending a 48-hour charity Radiothon[14] at the radio station KLOS, Dio members Jimmy Bain and Vivian Campbell noticed that representation from hard rock or heavy metal stars was low. In light of the success of Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and USA for Africa's "We Are the World", they forwarded the idea to Ronnie James Dio, also attending the Radiothon, and together decided to create a similar project exclusively built around artists from the hard rock/heavy metal scene. Together the three co-wrote the song "Stars."

The song "Stars" was recorded on May 20 and 21, 1985 with the first session at Sound City Studios and then moving to A&M Records Studios Studio A for the second session where they had recorded "We Are The World".[15] It was Edited and Mixed at Rumbo Recorders and Mastered at Artisan Sound.

The project included contributions from Ted Nugent, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tommy Aldridge and members of Dio, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Dokken, Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister, Queensrÿche, Blue Öyster Cult, Vanilla Fudge, Y&T, Rough Cutt, Giuffria, Journey, W.A.S.P. and Night Ranger as well as the parody band Spinal Tap. Lead vocals were shared between Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Kevin DuBrow, Eric Bloom, Geoff Tate, Dave Meniketti, Don Dokken, and Paul Shortino. Vivian Campbell, Carlos Cavazo, Buck Dharma, Brad Gillis, Craig Goldy, George Lynch, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Ojeda, and Neal Schon all added guitar solos. Iron Maiden's Dave Murray and Adrian Smith were in the middle of their 'World Slavery Tour' at the time and flew in to attend the main session.

The Non-ProfitEdit

Prior to the album release, and indicative of their business acumen and commitment to the project's success, Ronnie, Jimmy and Vivian established Hear 'n Aid as a full fledged non-profit (presumably to avoid experiencing similar missteps and pitfalls encountered with previous African aid efforts). "Hear ’n Aid had to be a non-profit organisation… We had to set up a board of directors, fourteen people, and all decisions had to be made by the board. My role was getting the licensing." - Wendy Dio[13] The Classic Rock article also indicates the project leadership and participants were well aware that the funds raised from similar events such as Band Aid (band) were squandered due to governmental corruption as well as suffering from general disorganization which led to things such as "food rotting on docks" - Paul Shortino (vocalist for Rough Cutt). The funds raised through the Hear 'n Aid project were instead used to purchase and ship agricultural machinery.

The California Articles of Incorporation for HEAR 'N AID, INC. C1364527 as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit were executed in Los Angeles, California on 10 December 1985 and filed on 4 February 1986.[16] The initial 11 directors included Ronnie's wife - Wendy Dio of Niji Management, Curtis Dean Lorrain c/o Current Productions, Paul Newman of Tasco Video, Martin H. Rogol c/o USA For Africa, Michon C. Stanco of W3 Public Relations, Patricia A. Wicker of Niji Management, Michael T. Brokaw of Kragan & Company, James Stewart Bain of Niji Management, Vivian Patrick Campbell of Niji Management, Ronnie James Dio of Niji Management, and Sharon Weisz of W3 Public Relations. These 11 directors are also credited in the IMDb as having various jobs in the Hear 'n Aid: The Sessions documentary.[17]

  • Wendy Dio - board of directors / consultant
  • Curt Lorraine - transportation coordinator/board of directors
  • Paul Newman - executive producer
  • Marty Rogol - board of directors
  • Michon Stanco - board of directors / production assistant
  • Patty Wicker - board of directors / production assistant
  • Michael Brokaw - board of directors/consultant
  • Jimmy Bain - board of directors
  • Vivian Campbell - board of directors
  • Ronnie James Dio - board of directors
  • Sharon Weisz - board of directors / consultant / talent coordinator

The non-profit containing all 11 original directors was wound up, assets were distributed and was dissolved 21 June 1991.[18]

Track listingEdit

No.TitleWriter(s)Original artistLength
1."Stars"Dio, V. Campbell, BainHear 'n Aid7:15
2."Up to the Limit (Live in Nagoya, Japan; 1985), from the Kaizoku-Ban EP"Hoffmann, Kaufmann, Baltes, Fischer, Dirkschneider, DeaffyAccept5:01
3."On the Road (Live at The Hammersmith Odeon, 1985), from The Birthday Party '85 video"Burston, Kilmister, P. Campbell, GillMotörhead4:55
4."Distant Early Warning (Live in Toronto, 1984), from the *Grace Under Pressure Tour (video)"Lifeson, Lee, PeartRush5:06
5."Heaven's on Fire (Live in Detroit 1984 with Eric Carr on drums), from the Animalize Live Uncensored video"Stanley, ChildKiss4:21
6."Can You See Me"HendrixThe Jimi Hendrix Experience2:27
7."Hungry for Heaven (Live in Philadelphia 1985), never released elsewhere"Dio, BainDio4:43
8."Go for the Throat (Live in 1985) Open Fire (Y&T album)"Meniketti, Alves, Kennemore, HazeY&T4:32
9."The Zoo (Live in 1984), taken from World Wide Live"Schenker, MeineScorpions6:14
Total length:38:09


Chart (1986) Peak
Australian (Kent Music Report) 76[19]


Track 1: "Stars"Edit

Hear 'n Aid

Track 2: "Up To The Limit" (Accept)Edit


Track 3: "On The Road"Edit


Track 4: "Distant Early Warning"Edit


  • Bass and Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Synthesizers, and Bass Pedal Synthesizer - Geddy Lee
  • Electric and Acoustic Guitars, and Bass Pedal Synthesizer - Alex Lifeson
  • Drums, and Percussion - Neil Peart

Track 5: "Heaven's on Fire"Edit


Track 6: "Can You See Me"Edit

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Track 7: "Hungry for Heaven"Edit


Track 8: "Go for the Throat"Edit


Track 9: "The Zoo"Edit


Re-issue and potential sequelEdit

There was a second planned song to benefit a charity that Dio was involved with for years ("Children of the Night"), that benefited runaway children. This was to be a song called "Throw Away Children". However, due to various reasons the project never materialized, and the song ended up appearing on the 2002 Dio album, Killing the Dragon.[citation needed]

On 2 November 2011, Dio's widow Wendy announced that the song "Stars" would be re-released. She told Rolling Stone: “I’m going to re-release [Stars] because it only ever came out on vinyl and cassette. So it’ll come out on DVD and CD, I have loads of outtakes for the video”.[3]

On 30 March 2015, Wendy Dio spoke with Eddie Trunk on his SiriusXM satellite radio show Eddie Trunk Live. "We are in talks right now with a couple of record labels to reissue HEAR 'N AID, with the funds going to [the Ronnie James Dio] Stand Up And Shout [Cancer Fund, the charity founded in memory of the late singer]".[20] "We have so much stuff that was never released before — behind-the-scenes stuff that was shot during the whole time. We have photos galore of everybody that was involved in it, and I think it'll be fantastic. We just have to work on it. It may not come out this year, because I want everything to be perfect, as Ronnie would want it to be, but I am in talks about it, and that will be coming out, definitely."

In April 2015, Wendy Dio confirmed that a modern-day version of Hear 'n Aid was in the works to record a "new song" and released alongside the upcoming reissue of "Stars". She had stated that "legal stuff" was the cause of the reissue delay.[21]


  1. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 416. CN 5585.
  2. ^ Keihänen, Tapio. "Hear 'N Aid 7" single Discography Dionet-00842". Dio.net. Dio net. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b Baltin, Steve. "Ronnie James Dio's Widow Rereleasing Eighties Metal All-Star Project". Rolling Stone.com. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Hear 'n Aid - Various Artists | Release Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  5. ^ "KISSMONSTER - Discography - Various Artists: Hear 'N Aid (1986)". Kissmonster.com. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  6. ^ "Hear 'n Aid: The Sessions". IMDb.com.
  7. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 248. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  8. ^ 100 Most Metal Moments, retrieved 2019-10-10
  9. ^ bravewords.com. "VH1's 100 Most Metal Moments - Full List Revealed". bravewords.com. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  10. ^ "MTV's Heavy Metal Mania". IMDb.com.
  11. ^ "Headbangers Ball". IMDb.com.
  12. ^ "Ronnie James Dio - Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Myspace.
  13. ^ a b Black, Johnny. "The story of Hear 'n Aid, the heavy metal Band Aid". Louder. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  14. ^ "the definition of radiothon". Dictionary.com.
  15. ^ Rock, Johnny Black2017-05-16T14:39:00Z Classic. "The story of Hear 'n Aid, the heavy metal Band Aid". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ "Hear 'n Aid: The Sessions (Video 1986)". IMDb.com.
  18. ^ [2][dead link]
  19. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 136. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  20. ^ "Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund". Diocancerfund.org. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  21. ^ "Modern-day version of Eighties Metal All-Star Project Hear n' Aid to Record new Song for Charity". Blabbermouth.com. April 5, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2015.

External linksEdit