Written by the man himself, this was Lionel Richie's fourth solo single - the first being a duet with Diana Ross. "All Night Long..." is basically a fun track. Released on the Motown Label in both 7-inch and 12-inch formats, co-produced with James Carmichael and backed by "Wandering Stranger," it topped the Hot 100 for four weeks. The radio edit runs to 4 minutes 16 seconds; the album version to 6 minutes 25 seconds. The song also sold well internationally, and was performed by Richie at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Lionel Richie told CNN: "What I try to write about are real events. There will always be an easy like Sunday morning. There will always be an endless love. There will always be an all night long."
Richie said to CNN that it took him about two months write this song. He explained: "I just couldn't find the ending - I couldn't find all night long to save my life. 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."
Richie told The Epoch Times that he got the vibe for this song from his vacations in the Caribbean. He explained: "I'm one of those guys that - I don't look for something new. I look for what people do everyday. And I noticed that, anytime I would come on vacation, everybody who can rap is on vacation doing a calypso dance. Everybody who's singing Opera, they conform to some form of calypso or some form of reggae. So when I went back to do 'All Night Long' it was very simple. All I had to do was find that beat that everybody dances to when they go on vacation."
There is a very multicultural vibe to this song, as Richie mentions joyful words in different languages. "Karamu" is a Swahili word for a party accompanied by a feast; "Liming" is a Caribbean term for getting together, and "Fiesta" is Spanish for party.
Richie explained to Q the lyric, "Tambo liteh sette mo-jah! Yo! Jambo jambo:" "I called the UN and said 'I need something African for the breakdown in this song I'm writing.' They informed me that there are thousands of different African dialects. I couldn't believe it. One region doesn't have any idea what the other is taking about. So, 'Tambo liteh sette mo-jah!'? I made it up on the spot. Now I think that 'Jambo' might have a meaning in Swahili (it does- "hello"), but you gotta be careful because it might mean 'welcome' in one dialect and you might get your head cut off for saying it in another."
A young Richard Marx, before he found fame with his own hits such as "Right Here Waiting
," supplied backing vocals on this track. He told Songfacts
the "jambo" section was a moving target. "It kept changing," he said. "He kept getting different notes from people saying, 'That's actually not what that means. Change this vowel.' So, we had to do it a couple of times on different days."
Lionel Richie was an early mentor to Richard Marx, who also lent his vocals to several of Richie's other recordings, including "Running With The Night
" and "You Are." Said Marx, "Working with him in the studio was always just fun. He makes everything fun. He has got an incredible energy about him - positive energy. I can't say enough about him."
This song became an anthem for the Iraqi people during the 2003 invasion. Richie told Q magazine July 2009: "Recently I met the commander of the 190 Brigade. He said his troops put speakers on their Humvees and played 'Dancing On The Ceiling.' they arrived to hear 'All Night Long.' The fall of Baghdad was played out to my songs, which is a bit frightening."
This was the first Lionel Richie video to make an impact on MTV. "When MTV started, it wanted nothing to do with black artists," he said in the book I Want My MTV. "But then I gave them 'All Night Long' after Michael (Jackson) had broken down the door. And from then on I was on MTV."
Lionel Richie's wife had a Jamaican gynecologist. In order to ensure that he was pronouncing the Caribbean words that he uses on this song correctly, Richie called the gynecologist, who replied, "I'm right in the middle of an appointment, can we talk later?"
The party atmosphere on this song was replicated by Richard Perry when he produced the 1985 DeBarge hit "Rhythm Of The Night
." Perry had the group make the celebratory sounds in the studio.
Richie was met with incredulity when he revealed that he was releasing this Calypso-flavored song. He told Entertainment Weekly in 2014: "Even my own record company said to me, 'Are you out of your mind?' And I said, 'Guys, I've traveled the world. This is the rhythm that the whole world dances to on vacation.'"
Richie performed this song at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Among the dancers was a young Cuba Gooding Jr., making his first appearance as an entertainer.
For this performance, Richie wrote a different set of lyrics, which begin:
Hello to you all, these many who are here
Come and join me in this special cheer
In 2014, this song's lyrics were used in a commercial for Bud Light Lime-a-Ritas. The spot featured a man speaking the song, beginning with, "Well my friends the time has come, to raise the roof and have some fun."
When Richie was honored with the Person of the Year award at the Grammys in 2016, he sang this along with John Legend, Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, Luke Bryan and Tyrese, who each performed one of his hits before Richie took the stage.
In a 2018 commercial for TD Ameritrade that aired in the Super Bowl pregame, Richie learns about their after-hours trading platform, and is asked what it means to him. "I can trade... all evening long," he replies. Then, "all night, through its entirety" and "the time from sunset to sunrise."