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Lionel Richie Biography: Inside the Life of an Award-Winning American Singer

| How Africa News


Lionel Richie grew up in Tuskegee, Alabama, where he was born in 1949. He was a founding member of the Commodores, a famous R&B act in the 1970s, before breaking out as a solo artist with the No. 1 hit “Truly,” off his self-titled first album. More chart-topping singles followed, including “Hello” and “Dancing on the Ceiling.” He collaborated with Michael Jackson on the famine charity song “We Are the World” in 1985. Louder than Words (1996) and Coming Home (2006) are two of Richie’s latter releases. Tuskegee, his 2012 country album, re-entered the charts, and he was nominated a judge for the 2018 edition of American Idol.

Hit Albums and Songs

‘Lionel Richie’

Lionel Richie released his self-titled solo album in 1982, having already proven his songwriting abilities with the Commodores and by penning the classic ballads “Lady” (for Kenny Rogers) and “Endless Love” (performed with Diana Ross). He won the jackpot with the lead single, “Truly,” which reached No. 1 late in the year, and “You Are” and “My Love” both charted in the top five.

‘Can’t Slow Down’

Richie’s next album, Can’t Slow Down, was released in 1983 and featured the exuberant pop song “All Night Long” as well as the dreamy ballad “Hello,” which had one of the greatest music videos of the time. Richie’s success with this project, which earned him a Grammy for Album of the Year, helped solidify his place as one of music’s biggest artists. He sang “All Night Long” at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California.

‘Dancing on the Ceiling’

Dancing on the Ceiling (1986), Richie’s third solo album, opened with his Academy Award-winning song “Say You, Say Me,” from the 1985 film White Nights. The title track delivered Richie another No. 1 success and spawned another blockbuster video, while the follow-up singles “Love Will Conquer All” and “Ballerina Girl” also charted in the Top 10.

‘We Are the World’

Between his second and third albums, Richie collaborated with Michael Jackson on the charity hit “We Are the World.” With industry heavyweights like Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, and Tina Turner on board, “We Are the World” became one of the biggest successes in history, selling more than 20 million copies.

What is Lionel Richie’s Net Worth?

In 2013, Richie’s net worth was reported to be $200 million. The IRS placed a tax lien on him the same year for unpaid taxes, which the artist claimed would be “handled immediately.”

Career with the Commodores

Richie was a founding member of the Commodores in the late 1960s, playing saxophone and piano and contributing vocals to the R&B group’s growing success in the late 1970s, which coincided with his blossoming songwriter skills. Richie wrote several of the band’s biggest singles, including the ballads “Easy” and “Three Times a Lady,” as well as the funk anthem “Brick House.”

Relationships and Children

In 1975, Richie married his first wife, Brenda Harvey. However, their relationship deteriorated over time, culminating in an ugly episode in 1988 in which she was arrested for hitting him. By 1993, they had divorced. He remarried Diane Alexander two years later, but the marriage ended in divorce in 2003.

In the years between chart hits, the crooner became better known as the father of Nicole Richie, his first wife’s adoptive daughter. Nicole was frequently photographed with her friend Paris Hilton, with whom she co-starred on the reality show The Simple Life. She then married guitarist Joel Madden and gave Lionel his first grandchildren.

Richie and Alexander have two children, son Miles and daughter Sophia, both models.

‘American Idol’ Judge

Richie was revealed as a judge on the 2018 reboot of the singing competition show American Idol, with pop princess Katy Perry and country hunk Luke Bryan, in 2017.

The industry veteran seems eager to get started: “For two days a week, Professor Richie is going to talk about the reality of what it takes to be an artist,” he told The New York Times. “Rather than moaning about how the world has changed since I began, I’m going to tell them what it takes.” Do you believe it’s just singing? No, it isn’t. What is your personal style? What kind of endurance do you have? How many ‘No’s can you take? How many times can you return? That’s a true artist.”

The Richie-Bryan-Perry triad proved a winning mix for the show’s 16th season, and all three returned as judges for seasons 17 and 18.

Tuskegee Boy

Lionel Brockman Richie was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, on June 20, 1949. He was raised at the Tuskegee Institute, where two generations of his family (including his grandpa, who knew Booker T. Washington) worked. The school and surrounding community, he revealed to Esquire, offered a friendly and supportive environment for the young Richie: “I was born and raised in a community where if somebody can’t eat, the whole town goes to feed him,” he said.

Richie considered becoming a priest early on, but music proved to be his true calling.

Later Albums and Return to the Charts with ‘Tuskegee’

Richie’s fourth album, Louder Than Words, was released in 1996 after an extended sabbatical from the studio. Following that, he continued to record at a regular pace, releasing Time (1998), Renaissance (2000), Just for You (2004), Coming Home (2006), and Just Go (2009) to mixed reviews and sales.

Tuskegee (2012), on the other hand, marked the artist’s triumphant comeback to popularity. Richie collaborated mostly with country music stars such as Blake Shelton, Shania Twain, and Willie Nelson on new versions of his greatest hits, driving the album to the top of the Billboard 200.

Tours and Las Vegas Residency

Richie showed no signs of slowing down as he entered his 60s, announcing the two-year All the Hits, All Night Long Tour in 2013.

In 2016, he continued his Lionel Richie – All the Hits residency in Las Vegas, filling in between appearances at other locations with singers like as Mariah Carey.

Awards and Honors

Richie was named one of the year’s Kennedy Center honorees in December 2017, alongside Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J, Norman Lear, and Carmen de Lavallade.

In March of the following year, he was inducted into another select group with a handprint ceremony outside Los Angeles’ TCL Chinese Theatre.

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