It was 33 years ago today (October 16th, 1985) that “Little” Steven Van Zandt enlisted like-minded performers into a studio to cut the track “Sun City.” The song, which featured contributions from Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Lou Reed, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, and many others in an attack on apartheid, has been credited with helping bring down the all-white minority government of South Africa.
Among the notables appearing on the track and in the video were Joey Ramone, Run-DMC, the Temptations' David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, Pat Benatar, Ruben Blades, Ringo Starr, Zak Starkey, Darlene Love, Bobby Womack, Kurtis Blow, Bonnie Raitt, Hall & Oates, Jimmy Cliff, Nona Hendryx, Peter Wolf, George Clinton, and many more.
Steve Van Zandt said that he never had any idea the track would have such an effect on people: “At the time, all I was trying to do was politicize other artists, politicize whatever public I could reach. I was just trying to get people into the frame of mind of being involved with issues on a daily basis.”
The single of “Sun City” only topped out at Number 38 on the charts, but went on to receive massive airplay on MTV. The album, Sun City: Artists United Against Apartheid reached Number 31 on the charts.