Brief History: Benefit Songs

For the 25th anniversary of "We Are the World," the song is being rerecorded and released to benefit Haitian earthquake victims. A look back at the biggest charity-single smashes

Kevin Mazur / WireImage / Getty

Where have all the charity songs gone? In recent years, that staple of the mid-1980s--the all-star benefit tune--has become a pop rarity. But now, 25 years after "We Are the World" raised $63 million for African famine relief, a new generation of musicians has rerecorded the anthem, with proceeds going to victims of Haiti's recent earthquake.

The idea of charity records began with the Beatles. Or, rather, with some Beatles. Following the breakup of the Fab Four, George Harrison helped organize 1971's Concert for Bangladesh, the first star-studded event of its kind. Proceeds from the concert's live triple album went to...

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