American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer and actor Lionel Richie was born 20, June 1949 in Tuskegee, Alabama. From 1968, he was a member of the musical group Commodores signed to Motown Records. Richie made his solo debut in 1982 with the album Lionel Richie and number-one hit “Truly”. As a student in Tuskegee, Richie formed a succession of R&B groups in the mid-1960s.
In 1968 he became a singer and saxophonist with the Commodores who became established as a popular soul group. Their first several albums had a danceable, funky sound, as in such tracks as “Machine Gun” and “Brick House.” Over time, Richie wrote and sang more romantic, easy-listening ballads such as “Easy,” “Three Times a Lady,” “Still,” and the tragic breakup ballad “Sail On.” By the late 1970s he had begun to accept songwriting commissions from other artists. He composed “Lady” for Kenny Rogers, which hit #1 in 1980, and produced Rogers’s album Share Your Love the following year. Richie and Rogers maintained a strong friendship in later years. Latin jazz composer and salsa romantica pioneer La Palabra enjoyed international success with his cover of “Lady,” which was played at Latin dance clubs. Also in 1981 Richie sang the theme song for the film Endless Love, a duet with Diana Ross. Issued as a single, the song topped the UK and US pop music charts, and became one of Motown’s biggest hits. Its success encouraged Richie to branch out into a full-fledged solo career in 1982.
He was replaced as lead singer for The Commodores by Skyler Jett in 1983. His debut album, Lionel Richie, produced another chart-topping single, “Truly,” which continued the style of his ballads with the Commodores. Richie’s 1982 self-titled debut contained three hit singles: the U.S. #1 song “Truly”,”You Are” and “My Love.”His 1983 follow-up album, Can’t Slow Down won two Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, propelling him into the first rank of international superstars. The album contained the #1 hit “All Night Long”. Several more Top 10 hits followed, the most successful of which was the ballad “Hello” (1984), Richie had three more Top Ten hits in 1984, “Stuck on You” (#3), “Running with the Night” and “Penny Lover” in 1985 Richie wrote and performed, “Say You, Say Me,” for the film White Nights, winning an Oscar for his efforts as well as reaching on the U.S. charts. He also collaborated with Michael Jackson on the charity single “We Are the World” by USA for Africa, In 1986, Richie released Dancing on the Ceiling, which produced the hits “Say You, Say Me”, “Dancing on the Ceiling” , “Ballerina Girl” and “Se La”
Richie remains popular to this day and in 2004, he appeared on Top Gear as the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” where he was interviewed by host Jeremy Clarkson and During his lap, the Suzuki Liana he was driving lost a wheel due to hard cornering. In November 2005, he performed with Kenny Rogers on a CMT Crossroads special. Richie was also the headliner at a 2000 Fourth of July tribute concert with Fantasia Barrino at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. On May 7, 2006, Richie performed on the main stage (Acura Stage) at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Richie released his eighth studio album entitled “Coming Home” on September 12, 2006. The first single of the album was “I Call It Love” and was premiered in July 2006, becoming his biggest hit in the U.S. in ten years. The album was an incredible success for Richie in the United States, peaking at #6. His adopted daughter Nicole Richie stars in the music video for this track.
On December 9, 2006, Richie hosted and performed live on the British television show An Audience with Lionel Richie. Two months later, he performed “Hello” on the 49th Grammy Awards show. On November 25, 2007, he made a surprise appearance on the Australian Idol grand finale performing “All Night Long (All Night)” at the Sydney Opera House. Richie donated to Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign. On May 2, 2008, he became the 21st recipient of the George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award at UCLA’s annual Spring Sing and Recently, he announced that he would like to get The Commodores back together soon, “or in the next 10 years no one will care.” On December 31, 2008, Richie performed in Times Square for the New Year’s Eve celebration and ball drop. He also performed on the 2009 season finale for American Idol with Danny Gokey. On July 7, 2009, Richie performed “Jesus is Love” at Michael Jackson’s memorial service and the album, Just Go was released in spring 2009.