If an earthquake had opened up the ground yesterday on Adelaide Street in East Toronto, the loss to the Canadian music scene would have been incalculable. Almost every major star in Canada has produced in the past 25 years was at the Manta Sound studios to record the song Tears Are Not Enough, for the benefit of Ethiopian famine victims.
Some of the performers, collectively known as the Northern Lights, treated it like a Hollywood premiere, waving and smiling back at the crowd as they marched down a cordoned-off lane that led from the parking lot to the low, grey building. Most of the performers wore looks of grim determination,like soldiers selling out to do a job that had to be done.
For the fans who lined up in the cold, it was a rare opportunity for star-gazing, a chance to see, as some girl put it, "some of the most important people in the world - Carole Pope, Neil Young and Bryan Adams."
By 9:30 a.m., the security staff, provided by Concert Productions International, had set up metal barricades in the front of the building to channel the performers through a gate, and to regulate who entered the building . Already there was a group of about 50 people standing about, stomping in the snow to keep warm. By noon, when the stars began arriving, the crowd had risen to more than 100, at what was supposedly a secret location. Some fans had figured out the studio's location from newspaper or radio reports; one girl had even pretended to be Sandy Horne of the Spoons, and phone the promoter, rock manager Bruce Allen, for the address.
Joni Mitchell and Neil Young arrived together and were led through the wall of photographers by the security staff. Mark Holmes of Platinum Blonde was wheeled through the gates in a pearl-grey stretch limo; his girl friend parked his regular car directly behind him. Geddy Lee of Rush rolled up in a plain black truck. Tommy Hunter and Carole Pope pulled up in cabs. And Paul Anka, who had anticipated the crush, had arrived before anyone at 10:15 a.m.
When Anne Murray arrived, one girl called out: "All right, My mom's hero." And Bruce Allen stood on the street directing traffic, generally unrecognized, although a a few girls were curious about the Bryan Adams tour stickers on his jacket and jeans.
One girl, Tracy Abin of Mississauga, had stayed up the previous night to create her banner: "Ethiopia Thanks You."
"I though I should let them know that people appreciated what they were doing." she said, but by early afternoon the banner was in shreds, torn by the crowd repeatedly surging forward to catch glimpses of performers. Abin was looking for a Corey Hart autograph, but settle for one from Tommy Hunter.
Each time a limousine rolled through the gate, the crown surged toward it, and the security staff scrambled, arms outstretched, to keep the girls from the vehicles.
Dave Pratt, middle-aged and dressed in a ski jacket, leaned against the steel barricade, looking out of place among the young girls who were heavy with makeup and anxious to see their favorite stars. When the crush was oppressive as Corey Hart pushed through the press, Pratt reached out a protective arm toward his daughters.
He had risen early and driven his daughters Laura, 13, and Michelle, 15, to the Manta Sound location from their Aurora, Ont. home. Compared to occasions where the three have headed to Toronto at 3 a.m. to line up for concert tickets, standing in yesterday's snow and cold was no hardship.
"I've lost count of how many of these things I've taken the m to." Pratt said. "But you only have them for so long. I enjoy the music. Besides, if you participate with your kids, you know what they are doing."
Laura and Michelle agreed the chance to touch Corey Hart's arm was worth the freezing wait.
A teenager in a long grey overcoat and gloves, black hair spiked upward, curled his lips contemptuously at the teenyboppers' enthusiasm.
"When Corey Hart comes, I've got a bomb in my pocket for him, I've got a grenade," he said. But as singer Dalbello arrived the sneer melted and he pushed against the rail, his arm outstretched. "Hey Dalbello, can I touch your eyebrow?"
Few people recognized the bearded man with glasses and a blue cap who stood waiting for entrance to the building. When a couple of girls approached him asking him who he was, he answered: "Jim Vallance." They looked blankly at him, talked briefly, and wandered away.
Vallance, the Juno-winning songwriter who regularly collaborates with Bryan Adams, was one of the writers of Tears Are Not Enough. Vallance said he and the other performers were under strict instructions from Allen not to talk to the press until today.
But Montreal-born songwriter Baron Longfellow (formerly known as Andy Kim, the writer of such early seventies hits as Sugar, Sugar, Rock Me Gently, Shoot 'Em Up Baby), who flew in from Los Angeles on Saturday night to be part of the recording, wasn't tied to the same code of silence.
"You know, behind the funny hairdos and earrings and everything, musicians are people who are interested in reaching other people , and that's what a project like this enables you to do. Canadians have a reputation as people who are conservative, but something like this proved that we have a lot of soul too."
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