You don’t get to Eddie Murphy’s station in life—revered stand-up comic, Hollywood leading man, and occasional crooner—without having a firm understanding of your priorities. But even Murphy has his share of regrets and what if’s, including missing out on recording the star-studded charity single, “We Are the World.”
Filming a live segment of The Jimmy Kimmel Show in Brooklyn (Murphy’s home borough), Murphy gave an extended interview covering everything from how long it took to realize his latest project, Dolemite Is My Name (15 years), which iconic sketches he’ll do when he returns to host SNL in December (definitely “Gumby” and “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood”) and his early passion for ventriloquism (he apparently still has a Paul Mooney dummy).
He also addressed some long-circulated rumors, including that he turned down a chance to appear on “We Are the World,” the 1985 Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie-penned charity song that brought together producer Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, and Ray Charles, among others. (The exchange starts at 11:28 below.)
“Well, I didn’t turn it down. I was doing something else,” Murphy said. “I was in Stevie Wonder’s studio and I was working on some music. He was like, ‘Hey, come over. We’re doing this thing.’ And I was like, ‘Hey man, I’m recording the song, ‘Party All the Time.’”
“Then I realized afterwards what it was and I felt like an idiot,” he continued.
“We Are the World” went on to sell more than 20 million copies and raised $63 million (equivalent to $144 million in today’s dollars) for long and short-term relief efforts in Africa.
The Rick James-produced “Party All the Time,” meanwhile, hit #2 on the Billboard charts the year it came out and chronicles Murphy, millionaire and megastar, un-ironically lamenting the intense socializing habits of his beloved.
I buy you champagne and roses put diamonds on your finger
(Diamonds on your finger)
Still, you hang out all night
What am I to do?
I tell you what Mr. Murphy, one song may have given to charity, but the other song (and accompanying video) remains a strange and actual blessing.