The R&B artist and rocker were among the many A-listers who joined forces to record the hit charity single "We Are the World" in 1985
Ever since the iconic singer/drummer, 66, and pop-rock star. 70, met while recording the 1985 collaborative charity single “We Are the World,” which is the subject of Netflix’s The Greatest Night in Pop documentary, the two have remained friends.
At the film’s premiere held at The Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles on Monday, Sheila E. spoke to PEOPLE about meeting Lauper that night and the love she has for her friend of nearly four decades.
The musician explains that the two rockers became friendly when they joined forces, along with stars like Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson and others, to record “We Are the World,” and formed their own collaborative relationship out of the experience.
“It was a beautiful night,” she says. “And after that I started working, doing some shows with her, and I recorded on a couple of albums.”
Their friendship remained strong for years, as Sheila E. even played percussion on “Stay” off Lauper’s 2003 album of jazz standards At Last.
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“She works hard,” the former Prince collaborator lauds the Grammy winner. “She's just amazing.”
Beyond their working partnership, the R&B legend says there’s much to admire about the “True Colors” singer. “She’s crazy,” she says. “I love her energy. She's insane. She goes for it.”
Related: Cyndi Lauper's Life in Photos
Although the two musicians connected while working on what became one of the highest-selling singles of all time, Sheila E. admits that it’s been a while since they reflected on it together. “You just keep moving on,” the “A Love Bizarre” singer says before jokingly adding, “Not unless we probably all got drunk and go, ‘You remember that?’
Both the Grammy-nominated artist and the Tony winner appear in The Greatest Night in Pop, which hit streaming on Netflix on Monday.
The film unearths unseen footage and features new interviews about the single night that songwriters Richie, 74, and the late Jackson had to wrangle dozens of A-listers into one studio to record their song in support of famine relief in Africa.
From anecdotes about how Stevie Wonder encouraged Bob Dylan to perform his solo to how Diana Ross told Daryl Hall she was his biggest fan, the Bao Nguyen-directed documentary is full of revelations about how the classic hit came together.
Sheila E. is among the musicians who shares an untold story, as she explains that she realized she was only invited because the event organizers wanted her on-again-off-again boyfriend and collaborator Prince to participate.
“I was looking forward to singing one of the verses, but they kept asking, ‘Well, do you think you can get Prince here?’ I’m like, ‘Wow, this is weird,’” she recalls in the doc. “And I just started feeling like, ‘I feel like I’m being used, to be here, because they want Prince to show up and the longer they keep me, maybe Prince will show up.’ I already knew he wasn’t gonna come, ‘cause there was too many people and he would feel uncomfortable. I told Lionel, I said, ‘I’m gonna go.’ They never intended on having me sing a verse, which was a little bit… heartbreaking.”
Upon the documentary's release, cameraman Ken Woo who was a part of the project told PEOPLE what a thrilling experience it was to document. “If you’ve ever been in a symphony and you’re sitting close to the orchestra, you feel all that vibration and that energy and that music like a wave over you,” he said. “That’s what it was like in the studio when they sang it the very first time. It just blew everybody away — my jaw dropped.”
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