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‘We Are The World’ vocal arranger thinks Prince was “afraid” of Michael Jackson

The vocal arranger for the charity single ‘We Are The World’ has suggested that he thinks Prince was “afraid” of Michael Jackson.

The iconic 1985 charity single was once again thrown into discussion recently following the release of the new Netflix documentary, The Greatest Night In Pop – which takes a look into the making of the star-studded track.

Made to help raise funds for people struggling in Africa, the track has gone on to be a centre of speculation regarding the long-running feud between pop icons Prince and Michael Jackson.

The pair battled for supremacy in the charts during the ‘80s and made no secret of their rivalry. In 2016 a recording from 1988 resurfaced, in which Jackson revealed he disliked the comparisons of him to Prince, and labelled the ‘Purple Rain’ singer as “one of the rudest people I have ever met”.

Additionally, part of the conflict arose after Prince turned down the opportunity to collaborate with Jackson on his hit 1987 album ‘Bad’ – namely due to his reluctance to sing the line “Your butt is mine” on the title track (via Express).

The feud between the two was speculated to be the reason why Prince did not take up the offer to play on ‘We Are The World’, despite already being in the same city at the time for the American Music Awards.

Now, Tom Bahler, who Quincy Jones tasked with arranging the vocals on the record, has weighed in on the discussion and suggested that Prince may have turned down the opportunity because he was “afraid” of Jackson.

“I had a feeling Prince had a problem with men. With him, everything was with women. It made him feel good,” Bahler told Rolling Stone‘s Music Now podcast.

He also said he thinks the disagreement about the lyric in ‘Bad’ was “one of his excuses” to not work with Jackson. “I think if anything, he was afraid of Michael,” he said. “This is pure conjecture on my part. Michael was not afraid of him. Michael wasn’t afraid of anybody. He loved everybody.”

As highlighted by MusicRadar, Bahler’s relationship with Jackson can be traced back to 1979, when Jackson released Bahler’s ‘She’s Out Of My Life’ as a single from his ‘Off The Wall’ album.

As well as speculation that Prince did not appear on ‘We Are The World’ because of his dislike of Jackson, alternate theories have also suggested that the artist didn’t take part in the recording because he wanted to play the guitar on the track instead – a decision which Quincy Jones allegedly turned down.

The Greatest Night In Pop is available on Netflix now.

In other Michael Jackson news, last month it was revealed that the upcoming biopic on the singer is set to arrive on April 18, 2025.

The film will be titled Michael, and it will star the musician’s nephew Jaafar Jackson, 27, in the title role. Given the connection to the Jackson estate, it is unclear whether the film will explore the most controversial aspects of his life, including the allegations of child sexual abuse.

As for Prince, it was recently confirmed that Prince‘s ‘Purple Rain’ is set to become a stage musical featuring some of the pop icon’s famous tracks.

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