We Are the World: When Michael Jackson looked on awkwardly during Huey Lewis's line

15 January 2024, 14:51 | Updated: 19 January 2024, 12:49

Michael Jackson watches Huey Lewis
Michael Jackson watches Huey Lewis. Picture: USA For Africa/YouTube

By Tom Eames

'We Are the World' brought together some of the biggest music stars on the planet in early 1985.

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A few months after the success of Band Aid's 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' in the UK, singer Harry Belafonte was inspired to create an American equivalent.

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie were soon brought in to co-write a new song to raise money for African famine relief efforts. Under the name USA For Africa, 'We Are the World' was recorded by some of the biggest American (mostly) stars on the planet.

This included Jackson and Richie, alongside the likes of Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan and Ray Charles among many others.

The Greatest Night in Pop | Official Trailer | Netflix

With the new Netflix documentary The Greatest Night in Pop on its way, documenting the famous song's creation and recording, it has got fans reminiscing about some of its most memorable moments.

One such moment doing the rounds is the rather hilarious behind-the-scenes clip of Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper and Kim Carnes recording their lines for the song.

Appearing immediately after Jackson in the song, Huey Lewis can be seen - let's just say - not quite hitting the note perfectly.

Meanwhile, Michael can be seen watching on, with a somewhat confused expression on his face.

That Time Michael Jackson Wasn't Feeling Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, and Kim Carnes Singing (Funny)

Thankfully, the song was eventually recorded - though it apparently took all night to complete - and Huey later spoke about how great it was to work with Michael on the track.

“I stood right next to him on the solo lines, because I had the line right after he did," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2009. "We had to share a position there for a couple hours. And we chatted.

"He said lots of nice things about my songs, and he knew our stuff, and he was just sweet, sweet, sweet. You know, Quincy Jones was producing, and they wanted to make one full sweep on the lead vocals, and they kept getting about halfway and somebody would forget the words and they’d stop again.

"And so we never got a chance to rehearse our lines down at the end, as it were. So I sort of stood up for that. I said, ‘Hey, can you go all the way through, at least, so I can rehearse? Stevie Wonder over there has sung his part four times!’ And Michael thought that was really funny, so he said, ‘Yeah.’

"And the very next pass, we did the whole thing, we made it all the way. Clearly it was the good version. And I saw Quincy telling the engineer, ‘Okay, let’s do another,’ and Michael had his headphones off, and Quincy says, ‘All right, let’s do another one!’ And Michael, very concerned, grabs my hand and says, ‘They’re gonna save that last one, aren’t they?!?’ ‘Cause he knew that was the one.

"Obviously, what can be said about the guy? Super talented, and super fabulous, and super sweet at the same time. He was very comfortable. He was just really nice, man. Michael was just a really sweet guy.”

There's also another clip, where Michael can be seen smiling as Huey practiced his line in front of him:

MJ and Huey Lewis - We are the World set

Huey told the Questlove Supreme podcast: "I come walking back into the studio, [Jones] goes, 'Smelly, sing him the line.' He calls Michael [Jackson] 'Smelly.' Michael sings the line. Then I sing it. He goes, 'Good, you got it.'"

Legend has it, that Prince was meant to sing the line directly after Michael, but he ended up turning the offer down, and Huey was handed it instead.