The Greatest Night in Pop


That’s the name of the new documentary on Netflix. It tells the story of how the song We Are The World happened on a late night in 1985. Lionel Richie hosted the American Music Awards that night and after the show he and 45 other pop stars headed over to a secret recording session down the street. It was the only night they could do it because everybody was already in town, except Bruce Springsteen who played the last show of his tour and jumped on a plane from Philly to L.A.

Lionel and Michael Jackson wrote the song that week and with the help of a handful of people and Quincy Jones producing, somehow, they did it. They got everybody in a room in a big circle. Everybody looking at each other. Many had never met. Figured out the best key they sang in and who to pair them up with for the lines. It must have been like herding cats.

The artists checked their egos and settled in to do whatever they had to. The cause was righteous. People were starving to death in Africa and they believed they could help. It had already been a long night at the AMA’s so most everybody was a little tired, but ready to roll.

Michael Jackson was the first in the studio practicing his solo. The artists started filing in one by one. Springsteen, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Steve Perry, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Logins, Diana Ross, Dione Warwick, Willie Nelson, Cyndi Lauper, Ray Charles, Hall and Oates, and many others to help sing the chorus. Even Dan Aykroyd was there. It was like a crazy dream.

Prince didn’t make it that night so Huey Lewis was asked to sing his line. Imagine trying to pull something like this off today. It just couldn’t be done. But it happened on that night in 1985 and you can watch it all unfold on the Netflix documentary “The Greatest Night in Pop.”