Under the leadership of sometime Bruce Springsteen guitarist “Little Steven” Van Zandt, “Sun City” mobilized 54 music stars — Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Keith Richards and Ringo Starr, among others — to speak out against South African apartheid. Sun City was a casino resort about two hours from Johannesburg. Because of apartheid, Bantustan (the state in which the casino resided) was separate from the nation’s laws and therefore allowed to feature gambling and topless shows. The resort was a wildly popular destination and venue for many musicians. Van Zandt, however, thought support of Sun City was in essence an acceptance of apartheid. After the record was released in 1985, the participating artists — all of whom agreed never to perform at Sun City — presented the first copy to the U.N. Dan Schechter, one of the original conspirators of the Artists United Against Apartheid, wrote in the Huffington Post in February 2010 that the record influenced Congress’ decision to pass antiapartheid legislation that called for a trade embargo against South Africa.
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