We Are The World mastermind Ken Kragen dies at 8512/15/2021
We Are The World mastermind Ken Kragen dies at 85: Music manager raised $64M for Africa by gathering Michael Jackson and Diana Ross for blockbuster song
- Kragen died of natural causes at age 85 at his home in Brentwood, California
- The family shared that the music manager passed on Tuesday
- The producer was best known for being the mastermind on We Are The World
- We Are The World was a hit song from the Eighties that raised $64M for Africa
- It was an unusual collaboration with many of the very top stars of the day
- Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote the catchy tune about helping others
- And it went on to become a massive success and winning Grammys
- Ken also put together the event Hands Across America the following year
- That stunt got people to hold hands from New York to California in one day
- The event raised $34M for the hungry and the homeless in the United States
- Ken also worked as a personal music manager to some very big acts
- He had a hand in shaping country acts Trisha Yearwood and Kenny Rogers
- And he also worked with top disco acts the Bee Gees and Olivia Newton-John
The music world has lost a bright beacon this week.
Ken Kragen died of natural causes at age 85 at his home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, California on Tuesday, his family shared in a statement.
The personal manager was best known for organizing the hugely successful We Are The World song with Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie as writers and Quincy Jones as a producer. The chart-topping tune helped raise $64million for aid in Africa.
The music manager also worked with top acts of the Seventies and Eighties including the Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John and Kenny Rogers.
Sad loss: The music world has lost a bright beacon this week. Ken Kragen died of natural causes at age 85 at his home in Brentwood, California on Tuesday, his family shared. Seen here in 2018 in Beverly Hills
He is also known for putting together the event Hands Across American where people held hands all the way from California to New York to help raise $34million to fight hunger and homelessness in the United States.
‘To have been married to someone of such character and loving goodness is the honor of my life,’ his wife Cathy Worthington said in a statement.
They were wed for 43 years.
‘While I am of course immensely proud of everything he has accomplished professionally, he has also been the best dad to me that I could ever ask for,’ his daughter Emma Kragen said in a statement.
A triumph: Ken was best known for organizing the hugely successful We Are The World song with Michael Jackson and Diana Ross
A good one: The producer of the song was Quincy Jones from an idea by actor Harry Belafonte. The tune raised $64 million for aid in Africa
We Are the World was released in 1985.
It went on to raise $64million for USA For Africa and won many Grammy Awards.
The song was packed with some of the biggest vocal talents of the day and fans were amazed that so many super stars dropped everything to work together in one room.
The star included Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.
It all began when Carmen Jones actor Harry Belafonte called Ken and asked him if he could help organize a concert that would generate funds to aid the needy in Africa.
Kragen said yes and phoned his famous pals.
Early days: Ken was born in Alameda, California and went on to attend University of California, Berkeley and then Harvard Business School. Seen in 1985
Taht’s entertainment! Ken also dipped his toe into television with The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour for CBS, which he executive produced. Here Steve Martin is seen with their brothers
In less than one month the manager got Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie to write the catchy tune as Quincy Jones served as producer.
They then reached out to many of their singer friends and the event snowballed.
The song – which had the lyrics ‘There comes a time when we heed a certain call when the world must come together as one there are people dying – Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life’ – was a hit on the music charts for months.
The following year he had another massive hit with Hands Across America. The national event involved six million people as they held hands from the East to West coasts.
The stunt raised $34 million for US residents.
A music manager first: Ken worked with country music star Trisha Yearwood, left, as well as crooner Kenny Rogers
A siren still: Olivia Newton-John, seen at the 2018 G’Day USA Black Tie Gala at InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown, was one of his clients
The biggest thing in disco: The supergroup Bee Gees also worked with Ken; seen in 1977
Ken was born in Alameda, California and went on to attend University of California, Berkeley and then Harvard Business School.
He made a career for himself as a personal music manager and soon worked with top talent such as country music stars Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt, Dottie West, and Kenny Rogers.
He then turned his eye to disco acts The Bee-Gees and Olivia Newton-John.
Smart moves: Kragen moved into public speaker toward the end of his career and even headed classes at universities like USC and Harvard Business School. Ken was on the charity board for Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and Community in School. Seen in 2012
Ken also dipped his toe into television with The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour for CBS, which he executive produced.
And later he worked with Kenny Rogers and The First Edition on their show Rollin On The River.
And at one point Ken worked with actor Burt Reynolds or Smoky And The Bandit fame.
Kragen moved into public speaker toward the end of his career and even headed classes at universities like USC and Harvard Business School.
Ken was on the charity board for Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and Community in School.
Source: Read Full Article