In a recent interview with "Rock & Roll Happy Hour With Mark And Mike", legendary drummer Vinny Appice 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", Appice told "Rock & Roll Happy Hour With Mark And Mike" (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "HEAR 'N AID actually was — I think it was Viv [Vivian Campbell, DIO guitarist] and Jimmy's [Bain, DIO bassist] idea, and they wrote the song. They didn't write the lyrics and melodies, but Jimmy and Viv wrote the music. So Ronnie liked the idea. So he said, 'All right. Let's lay it down.' So we went to Sound City [studio] and laid it down. And I played with Frankie Banali [QUIET RIOT] — live, two drummers. We didn't punch him in — he didn't do it at a different time; we did it together. There's two drummers on that. So we just stayed out of each other's way, especially me; I can get in the way real easy, playing fills. So we kept looking at each other, and we played it really well. So that was born, that was started. And then, obviously, Wendy's office — Wendy Dio [Ronnie's wife and manager] — contacted everybody in the world. And it was a hang, but it started to be out of control. You've got four or five guitar players coming down — main guitar players — and you can't have people just hanging around; there's no room in the control room. But it was just a big party. But it was a great hang. Ronnie loved everybody. And then it was vocal time. Same thing. All these vocalists came in. That we had to allow more time, because it took longer. But that was a trip, man. We got everybody. But the most popular rock stars that [were] there were the guys from SPINAL TAP — Nigel [Tufnel] and Derek [Smalls]. They were there, and we were all, like, 'Oh, man. Look. You guys are great.' Everybody saw that movie. It was so cool. So they were the biggest guys there."
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 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."