Lionel Richie Shares What Frightened Him ‘to Absolute Death’ While Writing ‘We Are The World’
Every so often celebrities have an amazing story to tell about an iconic project that they have created.
“We Are The World” was released in 1985, and now decades later in an appearance on Andy Cohen’s “Watch What Happen’s Live” Lionel Richie has retold one of his most vivid memories about the making of the hit with Michael Jackson.
He said in his April 29 appearance on the show, “Well, there’s only one that comes to mind that scared me to absolute death was — we were in Michael’s room trying to write the lyrics to the whole thing and I kept hearing this sound,” he said while mimicking the breathing sound. “And I kept thinking, ‘What the heck is that?’ Well to my right, lying on the floor, I am eye to eye with his albino python.”
Cohen cut in to ask if the python’s name was Bubbles but quickly remembered that Bubbles was Michael’s pet chimpanzee. Richie reaffirmed that the snake “was not Bubbles” and said, “All I can tell you was I was screaming like the last horror movie in Hollywood, you understand me?” The “All Night Long” singer proceeds to tell what Jackson did next. “Now, here’s the words that got me. He says, ‘Oh my god, Lionel. I found him. I knew he was in here somewhere.’ He lost a snake in his room for the last two weeks. That’s a memory — while we were writing the lyrics.”
Lionel has previously told this story about being frightened by Jackson’s albino python. However, there were other details he added in his 2016 recounting of the moment. Richie was being interviewed by “The Negotiator” star Kevin Spacey for a MusiCares event when he told the story. He said, “I’m at Michael’s house trying to write ‘We Are The World’ and his dog is barking and his mynah bird is yelling ‘Shut up’ [repeatedly at the dog]. I see albums falling over. I look again and see more falling over and there’s an albino python [coming toward me].” Instead of Michael saying he found the python Richie claimed the King of Pop said, “Oh my God, Lionel. There he is, he wants to play with you.”
The award-winning song — three Grammys, one American Music Award — was created to raise money for relief for Ethiopians who were affected by a famine in 1983. Some 35 years after it raised a whopping $43 million, Richie proposed the idea last year of doing a remake of the song in hopes it would provide the same results, but this time for coronavirus relief. There have been no updates on whether such a project will go forward.