Ken Kragen, co-writer of ‘We Are the World,’ dead at 85

The American recording artist and activist Ken Kragen, whose philanthropic work in the wake of Hurricane Katrina inspired the hugely successful 1982 fundraising single “We Are the World,” died Thursday. He was 85.

Mr. Kragen died at a hospital in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, his son Ken Kragen Jr. said Friday in a statement.

Mr. Kragen, whose family sold their iconic music store, Kragen & Co., in 1991, was one of a handful of owners who were able to purchase their Katrina-damaged businesses in 2002. After assessing the damage, he moved the business to New Orleans, where the business was built again.

Mr. Kragen also founded the Ken Kragen Music Foundation in 2000, which he started to raise money for children afflicted with severe illnesses. The foundation produces a 14-year documentary film series and has raised more than $21 million for the National Kidney Foundation and the American Heart Association. The foundation also partnered with the DuPont Foundation and other organizations to sponsor scholarships and medical programs, and helped establish the Ken Kragen Music Institute, a music therapy program.

“My father did a great deal for this city, both before and after Hurricane Katrina,” his son said. “He was also a genuine advocate for charity in general.”

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