Lewis sang on the charity song "We Are the World" alongside Jackson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and more
Speaking to PEOPLE at the Los Angeles premiere of The Greatest Night in Pop on Monday, which recounts the iconic 1985 recording of "We Are the World," Lewis opened up about his friendship with the King of Pop.
Lewis took part in the charity song with fellow stars like Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper and Jackson, who died in 2009. After they worked together, they always remained friendly.
"There was something there and we exchanged messages once or twice," Lewis, 73, says of Jackson. "He congratulated me on my next record."
Reflecting on what it was like working on the song, Lewis says he was "nervous out of my mind."
“And one thing I do remember, which is interesting, is that they wanted to do the lead vocal in one pass for the most part because there were, I think, five microphones and they wanted to phase one up while you phase the other out so that the room ambiance matched and everything," he says.
He adds, “And so the first run through Lionel sings, ‘There comes a time,' and then somebody messed up about, I guess Stevie Wonder did first time.”
“So they went back and did it again. And then Stevie Wonder kind of messed it up a little bit, playfully,” Lewis explains. “Then they did it a third time. Then they got all the way around to Al Jarreau and he kind of fooled around, messed up. So they start again."
The musician tells PEOPLE that he then asked the sound engineer, "’Hey, Humberto, next time somebody messes up, can you let them go all the way through so I can rehearse my line?’"
"We never got to rehearse on lines in the thing. And Michael was so sweet, he said, ‘That's a good idea,’” adds Lewis.
Elsewhere in the interview, Lewis revealed to PEOPLE that his upcoming Broadway showThe Heart of Rock and Roll — which opens on April 22 — has been his “salvation” following his hearing loss.
“Well, we're very excited. We've been working on it for a long time,” the singer-songwriter tells PEOPLE. “I lost my hearing seven years ago, so I can't sing or perform, but I can do this. And boy, it's been a salvation for me personally, and it's really been gratifying.”
Lewis was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease after he heard a sudden roar that no one else heard while backstage at a private show in Dallas in 2018. The condition affects the inner ear and causes vertigo and hearing loss.
The Greatest Night in Pop is available to stream on Netflix now.
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Read the original article on People.