Civil rights activist, politician and all-around inspiration Nelson Mandela passed away today at the age of 95. Those of us who were alive during the ’80s will no doubt recall that both he and the anti-apartheid movement became a focal point for the musical community during that decade. His plight attracted the attention of renowned musical talents like Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel, U2 and more.
As a means of paying tribute to the impact that Nelson Mandela made on the world, please read along as we recall the 5 Most Impactful Songs of the Anti-Apartheid movement.
Artists United Against Apartheid, “Sun City” (1985)
The mid ’80s were, arguably, the last hurrah for the music community’s ability to impact widespread social change. Songs like “We Are The World,” “Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?” and this track were not only tremendously successful at raising awareness of injustices the world over, but were also massively popular on the charts. Little Steven Van Zandt of the E-Street Band organized a myriad of the time’s most influential musical talents —people like U2, Bruce Springsteen and Run-DMC, to name but a few—to record this track, which was meant to deter others in the music community from playing gigs at a casino in a South African territory called Sun City. Though it didn’t move quite as many units as the other songs mentioned above, it raised well over $1MM in donations for anti-apartheid efforts.