Music

Five Little Known Facts About Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long”

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kearthevents Britt Bickel
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Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On this day (Nov. 12th) in 1983, Lionel Richie started a four-week run at the top of the charts with his feel-good party hit “All Night Long.”

At the time, the song became Motown’s biggest hit to date and has since remained a classic hit for Richie. To celebrate the song reaching No. 1 on the Billboard charts, we’re taking a closer look behind the song at some fun facts you may not have known about it before.

1. Richie wrote the song himself.

According to Songfacts.com, Richie explained to CNN that the song took him two months to finish because he couldn’t find the right ending to the song. In the interview he explained “I had everything, the verses, the middle part, all the stuff. I just did not have all night long. It took me forever to find it. And finally one night, the heavens opened up and came through.”

2. The song features multiple languages in the lyrics.

Richie wanted to have a multicultural vibe to the song inspired by his Caribbean vacations, so he included various languages in the lyrics. The line “We’re going to party karamu, fiesta, forever,” the word “Karamu” is Swahili for a party accompanied by a feast and “Fiesta” is Spanish for party. In a separate lyric, he references “Liming,” which is a Caribbean term for getting together.

In the breakdown of the song towards the end, Richie includes African dialect, which he told Q magazine, he made up on the spot. When writing the song, he says he called the UN to ask for an African phrase or words to include, but was informed there are thousands of different dialects, and a word in one dialect could mean something completely different in another.

With that news, Richie said he made up the line “Tambo liteh sette mo-jah! Yo! Jambo jambo” on the spot, noting that “Jambo” means ‘hello’ in Swahili.

3. It was Richie’s first video on MTV.

The accompanying music video for the song was Richie’s first to be played on MTV. He explains that it wasn’t until Michael Jackson helped break down the door for many black artists to get featured on the music channel that he was played on MTV.

The music video itself featured many diverse people all coming together and doing various dances from around the world, as well as ’80s crazes like the Robot and the Worm. The video was produced by former Monkee and early music video pioneer, Michael Nesmith.

4. Notable performances

Shortly after the song’s release, Richie brought the party to countries all over the world by closing the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles with a performance of the song (watch it here). Other notable performances of the song include at the closing for the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2006 in Oslo, Norway and at the grand finale of American Idol in 2009.

5. The song’s popular culture status

There’s no doubt that Richie’s catchy dance hit has made an impact on popular culture. The song has been featured in car commercials for Oldsmobile and Cadillac, and has been parodied in episodes of The Simpsons and South Park.

Last year, the song had somewhat of a viral resurgence when YouTube users Rhett and Link posted a video of their Karaoke stunt singing the song around Los Angeles landmarks for 11 hours and 9 minutes (watch the 4 minute cut here).

Now that you know a little more behind the song, re-watch the video Richie’s “All Night Long” below!


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