Lionel Richie

  • R&B, pop ballad and soul singer, musician, songwriter born in 1949 from Tuskegee Alabama.
  • Richie grew up on the campus of Tuskegee Institute where his parents worked. He became interested in R&B music as a youth. He was an accomplished tennis player, and received a tennis scholarship at Tuskegee Institute, where he formed several R&B groups in the mid 60s. One of the groups was called The Mystics, and in 1968, they merged with another Tuskegee group called The Jays. They changed their name, randomly choosing The Commodores from a dictionary.
  • Richie dropped out of college after his sophmore year to focus on a music career with The Commodores. They signed a recording contract and released a record in 1968, but they did not record again until they signed with Motown Records. With Richie in the group, The Commodores released 9 albums from 1974 to 1981, becoming one of the biggest R&B and soft rock acts in music. Singles that reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 were Three Times A Lady and Still, both songs written by Richie.  Other mega hits were Easy, Lady (You Bring Me Up), and everyone’s funk favorite, Brick House.
  • In 1981, Richie wrote and sang a duet with Diana Ross, Endless Love, the theme song to the film of the same name. It was the second biggest selling song of the year, and stayed #1 on the Billboard 100 chart for 9 weeks. After its success, Richie decided to launch a solo career.
  • His debut solo album, the self titled Lionel Richie, was released in 1982. It was a huge hit, selling over 4 million copies in the U.S., with the song Truly topping the charts. His second album was his biggest seller – Can’t Slow Down from 1983 was certified diamond (10x platinum). It hit #1 on the album chart, and remained in the top 10 for 59 consecutive weeks. It won 2 Grammy awards, including Album of the Year in 1985. All 5 singles made it into the top 10, with All Night Long and Hello both reaching #1 on the Hot 100 chart, and Penny Lover and Stuck On You reaching #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
  • In 1985, he wrote and performed Say You, Say Me for the soundtrack to the film White Nights. The song won an Oscar and topped the Hot 100 chart for 4 weeks. Also that year, he co-wrote the charity single We Are The World with Michael Jackson – the song became the seventh best selling single of all time, with sales of over 20 million copies. The song won the Grammy for Song of the Year.
  • His third solo album was Dancing On The Ceiling, released in 1986. It continued his streak of success, certified 4x platinum. In addition to Say You, Say Me, 3 other top 10 hits were on the record – Dancing On The Ceiling, Love Will Conquer All and Ballerina Girl. 
  • After this success, he began to relax his schedule. He did not release another studio album until 1996. He released 6 studio albums from 1996 to 2009. These records were only modestly successful. A compilation album from 1992, Back To Front, contained 3 new original songs – Do It To Me and My Destiny were top 10 songs on the Adult Contemporary chart.
  • Richie’s most recent album, Tuscagee, was released in 2012. It consists entirely of new versions of old Richie songs, with country music guest artists performing the songs. Contributors included Blake Shelton, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw and Shania Twain. It was an unexpected success, topping the Billboard album chart and ultimately selling over 1 million copies – 26 years after his previous platinum album.
  • In 2017, Richie received a Kennedy Center Honors award for lifetime contribution to American culture.
  • If you are into 80s easy listening ballads, then you are into Lionel Richie. Other than Michael Jackson, it’s hard to name another artist who had such a successful run in the 80s. Lots of classics to choose from – let’s go with his video for All Night Long – probably my favorite from his solo years. Watching this video is a real flashback to the 80s.  

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