Bon Jovi teamed up with exiled Iranian singer Andy Madadian to record a cover of Ben E. King's classic "Stand By Me" as "a message of worldwide solidarity" to the protesters who massed in the streets after the disputed June 12 election. Hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was returned to office over his reformist opponent, in an election protesters believe was rigged by the nation's theocratic regime.
But the video comes more than two weeks after the controversial election, and several days after the regime's brutal crackdown appears to have ended protests. Ahmadinejad's re-election was officially affirmed by Iranian officials last week, according to the Washington Post.
Don Was, who produced the song, told billboard.com that he and Madadian came up with the idea after wondering "if there was something we could do just to send out a little message of solidarity, remembering the 60's believing music can change things."
Madadian, who is known as the "Persian Elvis" and has lived in exile in the U.S. since Iran's 1979 revolution, was going into an L.A. studio with Was to record a song inspired by his countrymen when they ran into Bon Jovi and his band. Was says that the incidental meeting between the two quickly turned Madadian's solo effort into a duet.
"They asked what we were doing, I told them, and Jon said, 'Look, man, if you do it right now we'll do it with you,'" said Was. "So we did."
Madadian and Bon Jovi sang the first verse in Farsi, the Persian language widely spoken in Iran. They were backed by Richie Sambora on guitar, Patrick Leonard on keyboards, Jeff Rothchild on drums and Was on bass.
A video of the session, which ends with Bon Jovi and Madadian standing side by side holding a sign in Farsi that translates into "We are one" quickly went viral, spreading on social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and others. The page has been viewed 76,926 times.
"It wasn't intended to be on the Billboard charts, wasn't meant to be a hit record or even pressed on a CD. It's intended to be downloaded and shared by the Iranian people," Was said. "The whole idea was to get it into Iran and tell them...to carry on, that the world is watching and we're with you."