Why ‘All for Love’ Was a Logistical ‘Bloodbath’
On Nov. 16, 1993, Bryan Adams, Sting and Rod Stewart released their collaborative single “All for Love.” The song, written for the film The Three Musketeers, became an international hit, but making it was a nightmare.
Two years prior, Adams had found massive success with the “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.” That song, written for the Kevin Costner movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, became a chart-topping hit, earning Adams a Grammy and an Academy Award nomination.
Adams wrote “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” alongside film composer Michael Kamen and record producer Mutt Lange. When Kamen was enlisted to score Disney’s 1993 adaptation of The Three Musketeers, he enlisted Adams and Lange for a song once more, in hopes of repeating their Robin Hood success.
The trio got to work, using a musical motif from Kamen’s score. At one point, Lange asked if the Three Musketeers had a slogan. “All for one and one for all,” the composer explained. “It’s pretty good,” Lange replied, “but I can’t see them dropping their knickers for it in Kansas.”
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The phrase was changed to “All for Love” and Adams – who by this point had become a master of power ballads – built out the tune. As the song was coming together, the Canadian rocker realized the release of “All for Love” would conflict with his next solo single, “Please Forgive Me.” To combat the problem, Kamen suggested Adams recruit two other singers (three voices on a Three Musketeers also felt right).
How Sting and Rod Stewart Ended Up on 'All for Love'
Adams’ first call was to Sting, who was immediately up for the collaboration.
“[Bryan Adams] called me up and said, ‘Would you like to sing on a track?’” the former Police frontman recalled. “And I said, Yeah, sure.’ He said, ‘You haven’t heard it yet.’ I said, ‘I don’t need to hear it. I’d like to sing with you. You’ve got a great voice.’”
Finding a third singer was more difficult. At one point, Luciano Pavarotti of the Three Tenors was approached. Later, Kamen connected with Jon Bon Jovi, who was still riding off the success of “Blaze of Glory” from the Young Guns II soundtrack (coincidentally, both The Three Musketeers and Young Guns II starred Kiefer Sutherland).
The third singer eventually became Rod Stewart, a decision which presented its own set of problems.
'All for Love' Almost Fell Apart
Sting had a bit of a rivalry with the “Maggie May” singer. Depending on who you asked, their relationship was either friendly or contentious. The rockers had exchanged snide comments regarding each other in the past, and even engaged in a prank war.
“We had a plane in America,” Sting recalled in a 1989 interview. “Rod had used it the night before for his gig, we took it over the next day. So I sit down at the table and there, very intricately carved, is, ‘Where’s your fucking sense of humor, you miserable git String?’”
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Stewart had reportedly taken close to an hour carving the massage into the table to Sting, knowing he would see it the next day. In response, the Police frontman chained shut the gate to Stewart’s Beverly Hills.
"We called the police, as you do when you're chained in,” Stewart later recalled. “So we've had a bit of nonsense between each other but we're good mates.”
“Listen, from way back, I am a huge Rod Stewart fan," Sting insisted. “I think he’s a brilliantly talented man. But he and I have had little contretemps over the years. Little messages have been sent from him to me and me to him.”
Beyond his rivalry with Sting, Stewart also proved to be difficult to get in a studio. Kamen noted “it was a question of nailing Rod to the floor long enough to get his vocal.” Stewart eventually laid down his part during a brief session in Los Angeles.
By this point, the deadline to get the song completed was looming. The singer’s respective record labels were arguing over a deal, and it appeared wouldn’t end up making it in The Three Musketeers.
“The deal between Bryan’s end, A&M, Sting’s people, Rod Stewart’s people, and Disney and Polydor and Sony Music and Warner Brothers became one of the biggest bloodbaths I have ever been witness to,” Kamen recalled in The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. “Bryan would call me at four in the morning: ‘It’s off, man.’ And then an hour later: ‘It’s on again.’”
A final agreement was made “by the skin of our teeth” and barely made it into The Three Musketeers.
Stewart Was an Hour Late to Shoot the Video
After a collective exhale, Adams, Sting and Stewart soon met up to shoot the song’s music video. The clip begins with candid footage of Adams and Sting mulling around the soundstage as musicians and crew set up.
“Where is this old tart?” Sting can be heard grumbling. Moments later, Stewart walks in and says, ‘Oh, here he is, String!” The scene was not for show.
Watch the 'All for Love' Music Video
“We met up for the video in New Jersey And Rod was late," Sting recalled. “Rod was an hour late. So he got a nice message from me when he came in.”
"All for Love" became a No. 1 hit in more than 15 countries, including three weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. In the years since its release, Adams has continually mixed the song into his set lists, performing it live more than 800 times. The same can't be said for the other two singers. According to setlist.fm, Stewart has not played “All for Love” in concert since 1996, while Sting has only performed the song two times, both in 1994.
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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff