Lionel Richie says Bob Dylan had a “nervous breakdown” recording “We Are The World”

Bob Dylan was one of the many A-list stars who took part in the 1985 charity single “We Are the World,” but according to Lionel Richie, who co-wrote the song, he didn’t have an easy time nailing down his contribution.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter to promote The Greatest Night In Pop, a documentary about the making of the song, Richie reveals Dylan “was having a nervous breakdown” while recording his part.

“He’s trying to sing it. And we said, ‘No, we don’t want you to sing it, just do it like Bob Dylan,’” Lionel shares. “If you’re thrown in a room with a bunch of singers, you have a tendency to get psyched out, that you want to sound like them.” 

With each artists getting only a small portion to sing, Lionel explains, “We had to make sure that whoever was singing, your voice was identifiable right away.”

“Now, Bob Dylan has an identifiable voice instantly. But he was trying to sing it another way,” he says. “We kept saying, ‘No, just sing it like Bob Dylan.’ But did you see that look on his face? He was like, well, what does that sound like?”

“We Are The World” features huge stars like Bruce SpringsteenBilly Joel and more, but one person who didn’t show up for the recording session was Prince.

“I was hoping he was going to come by,” Lionel says. “But there’s a point when that tape starts rolling, that’s it.” 

In the end, Huey Lewis wound up taking Prince’s part.

“Poor Huey, even to this day, he still hasn’t recovered. He did a great job,” Lionel laughs. 

The Greatest Night in Pop premieres January 19 at the Sundance Film Festival; it hits Netflix on January 29.

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