Lionel Richie regrets not asking Madonna to sing with Cyndi Lauper on 'We Are the World'

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Richie said he chose Lauper over Madonna at the time, but now realizes he made a mistake in not having both women on the 1985 star-studded track.

<p>Crollalanza/Shutterstock; Images Press/Getty Images</p>

Crollalanza/Shutterstock; Images Press/Getty Images

The population of celebrity voices on the star-studded 1985 charity track "We Are the World" could've included one more queen of pop music on the final version, but organizer Lionel Richie has revealed he regrets not asking Madonna to lend her voice to the iconic song.

Richie told talk show host Jimmy Kimmel during a recent interview that he made a major mistake in not enlisting Madonna's vocal prowess for the song, which included solos on the Michael Jackson-penned single, ranging from Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, and Bette Midler to Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and Cyndi Lauper on a song whose proceeds benefitted famine relief in Africa.

"Why did it have to be Cyndi Lauper or Madonna?" Kimmel asked Richie of a scene from his new documentary The Greatest Night in Pop, which sees the performer discussing both pop stars' potential involvement with the song.

"We had only a half a line to sing. Let me say this now: half a line. We had to have voices that people knew right away," Richie explained. "We didn't know whether Cyndi was coming. At the [American Music Awards that year] I said, 'Are you coming?' and she said, 'I spoke to my boyfriend and he says he doesn't think it's a hit,' and I said, 'Don't miss this session.' She showed up and killed it. The point was, you have to have an identifiable voice, for whatever reason it was just, Cyndi had that."

EW has reached out to representatives for Madonna for comment.

Kimmel pushed back on Richie's decision, asking, "You couldn't have both of them? You guys made a mistake," to which Richie responded: "I'm going to say this now on national and international television: You're right!"

"We Are the World" went on to become one of the best-selling singles of all time, and Richie further recalled that Eddie Murphy "missed it" after he declined participation.

Kimmel also asked Richie why he included Dan Aykroyd among the song's singers.

"We needed a vibe," the American Idol judge said. "It's just cool."

Watch Richie talk with Kimmel above.

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