Lionel Richie says not including Madonna on ‘We Are the World’ was a mistake

Lionel Richie participated in one of the most iconic musical events in history when he co-wrote and was featured on the 1985 track “We Are the World” with over 40 legendary artists, but he still has one lingering regret.

Recalling the process of deciding which artists to feature on the track, Richie admits those behind the production made a mistake by not including Madonna, one of the most prominent artists of the 1980s.

Instead, they opted for Cyndi Lauper, another pop icon of the decade.

“It’s probably one of the most interesting questions in the world because we had only a half a line to sing,” Richie told Jimmy Kimmel during a recent appearance on his show. Given the briefness of the line, he said, “we had to have voices that people knew right away.”

The point in choosing Lauper over Madonna, Richie added, was that “you have to have an identifiable voice.”

“And for whatever reason, Cyndi just had that,” he added.

Kimmel pressed Richie on why they didn’t just include both Lauper and Madonna, boldly suggesting that the “All Night Long Singer” made a “mistake” by leaving out the Queen of Pop.

“I’m going to say this now on national and international television, you’re right,” Richie admitted.

Richie and dozens of music legends – including Lauper, Huey Lewis, Smokey Robinson, Bruce Springsteen, Dionne Warwick, Paul Simon and Diana Ross – were featured on USA for Africa’s “We Are the World” single, which he co-wrote with Michael Jackson and was produced by Quincy Jones.

The song and video, that featured the in-studio recording session with all of the artists involved, were released to benefit the people of famine-ridden Africa.

“We Are The World” went on to become one of the top-selling singles of all time and raised over $60 million for the cause.

The making of this historic music moment is chronicled in the new Netflix documentary “The Greatest Night in Pop,” which is available to stream now.

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