In a recent interview with RockSverige, IRON MAIDEN guitarist Adrian Smith 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", Smith told RockSverige: "Well, I knew [then-DIO bassist] Jimmy Bain a bit from just hanging around in L.A. a bit, and he asked us to do it, and it was a charity, so we couldn't say no. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to it. There were all these shredders there, and in those days, everyone was trying to outdo each other and play faster and play louder, and I just wasn't interested in it. I did it because Jimmy asked and it was for charity.
"Dave [Murray, IRON MAIDEN guitarist] and I went there, and I said to Dave, 'I don't really wanna try and compete with these shredders,'" Adrian continued. "Vivian Campbell and Yngwie Malmsteen [were there], and I was, like, 'Jesus!' So I said, 'Let's do something melodic.' We just played a melodic line on this chorus and Ronnie was standing there, and he was, like, really surprised. He said, 'Thank god. I was dreading for you coming in and playing, like, a hundred notes per second over everyone else. I'm glad you did something musical.'
"I loved Ronnie. He was a lovely guy. It was one of those ones… it was like a scene out of a movie about rock music. [It] was all full of groupies in the control room. There must've been about 30 people in the control room while we were trying to work, which I hated. I just kind of gritted my teeth and got on with it. It was, like, chicks, people smoking joints… it was real old school. [Laughs] I actually said to Jimmy, 'It's a really good song you've got here.' And he said, 'Yeah, I know. We should've put it on our [DIO] album.' And he sort of regretted it a little bit that they didn't put it on their latest album, but it went out for charity."
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."