The Greatest Night In Pop ‘We Are The World’ Is One of the Best Docos Ever Made - Noise11.com
The Greatest Night In Pop

The Greatest Night In Pop

The Greatest Night In Pop ‘We Are The World’ Is One of the Best Docos Ever Made

by Paul Cashmere on February 1, 2024

in News

When you have a spare 90 minutes to kill ‘The Greatest Night In Pop’, a new documentary about the making of ‘We Are The World’ is must see TV.

Netflix is streaming this brand new insight about how one of the biggest charity songs of all-time was recorded in one night using the American Music Awards to pull all of the artists together.

Harry Belafonte came up with the idea. He took it to artist manager and music industry powerbroker Ken Kragen who took it to Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson to write a song. Belafonte wanted to create an American fundraiser based on the template Bob Geldof and Midge Ure used one year earlier for ‘Do They Know Its Christmas’.

With Kragen’s contacts, stars started to fall into place but there were a few diversions. Initially Stevie Wonder was contacted to write the song but took too long to respond. They also tried to recruit Prince but his head was so far up his arse he didn’t get involved.

It was decided that the best time to record the song would be after the American Music Awards when the biggest acts in the country were all in Hollywood at the same time for the event. After the Awards, the 50+ artists involved went directly to A&M Studios and the song was completed by 8am the following morning.

The doco shows a clearly confused Bob Dylan not really knowing how to perform with an entire room of people with incredible and unique voices but Quincy Jones coached him.

If Prince was there, the part he would have had was the lead vocal line Huey Lewis does on the record.

There were magic moments, like when Stevie Wonder needs to go to the toilet and Ray Charles took his arm and led him there in a real life “the blind leading the blind” moment. Another great moment is when after the session, Diana Ross asked Daryl Hall for an autograph and started a “chain reaction” (pardon the pun) of the artists all asking the other artists to sign their sheet music.

Vocal lines were allocated based on whose voice was the best instrument for the line, not popularity of the artist.

Since its release, “We Are the World” has raised over $63 million (equivalent to $168 million today) for humanitarian causes

We Are The World credits:

Conductor
• Quincy Jones

Soloists (in order of appearance)
• Lionel Richie
• Stevie Wonder
• Paul Simon
• Kenny Rogers
• James Ingram
• Tina Turner
• Billy Joel
• Michael Jackson
• Diana Ross
• Dionne Warwick
• Willie Nelson
• Al Jarreau
• Bruce Springsteen
• Kenny Loggins
• Steve Perry
• Daryl Hall
• Huey Lewis
• Cyndi Lauper
• Kim Carnes
• Bob Dylan
• Ray Charles

Chorus (alphabetically)
• Dan Aykroyd
• Harry Belafonte
• Lindsey Buckingham
• Mario Cipollina (of Huey Lewis and the News)
• Johnny Colla (of Huey Lewis and the News)
• Sheila E.
• Bob Geldof
• Bill Gibson (of Huey Lewis and the News)
• Chris Hayes (of Huey Lewis and the News)
• Sean Hopper (of Huey Lewis and the News)
• Jackie Jackson
• La Toya Jackson
• Marlon Jackson
• Randy Jackson
• Tito Jackson
• Waylon Jennings
• Bette Midler
• John Oates
• Jeffrey Osborne
• Anita Pointer (of the Pointer Sisters)
• June Pointer (of the Pointer Sisters)
• Ruth Pointer (of the Pointer Sisters)
• Smokey Robinson

Instrument players
• John Barnes – keyboards, programming, arrangement
• David Paich – synthesizers
• Michael Boddicker – synthesizers, programming
• Ian Underwood – synthesizers, programming
• Steve Porcaro – synthesizers, programming
• Paulinho da Costa – percussion
• Louis Johnson – synth bass
• Michael Omartian – keyboards
• Greg Phillinganes – keyboards
• John Robinson – drums

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