Lionel Richie Biography
Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. (born June 20, 1949) is an American R&B singer, songwriter, composer, producer and occasional actor.
His fame began when he was the frontman for the Commodores, a nationally popular Motown band during the 1970s. They had several hits such as "Easy," "Three Times A Lady," and "Brick House." Richie left the Commodores in 1981 for a solo career, becoming one of the most successful artists of the Eighties with five number 1 hits and thirteen consecutive Top 10 hits in the U.S.
He released his self-titled debut in 1982. The album hit #3 on the music charts and sold over 4 million copies. His 1983 follow up album, Can't Slow Down, sold over twice as many copies and won the Grammy Award for the Album of the Year in 1984. His third album, Dancing on the Ceiling, which was released in 1986, spawned such hits as "Say You, Say Me," "Dancing on the Ceiling," and "Se La," but it also signified the end of his large commercial success.
His albums in the 1990s such as Louder Than Words and Time all failed to achieve the previous decade's commercial success. Some of his recent work such as the album Renaissance has returned to his older style, achieving success in Europe, but little in the United States.
Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Lionel Richie grew up on the campus of Tuskegee Institute. His grandfather's house was across the street from the home of the president of the Institute. His family moved to Illinois where he graduated from high school in Joliet. A star tennis player in Joliet, he accepted a tennis scholarship back at Tuskegee Institute.
Back as a student in Tuskegee, he formed a succession of R&B groups in the mid-'60s. In 1968 he became the lead singer and saxophonist with the Commodores. They signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1968 for one record before moving on to Motown Records, being schooled as support act to the Jackson Five. The Commodores became established as one of America's most popular soul groups of the '70s, and Richie was responsible for writing and singing many of their biggest hits. They specialized primarily in romantic, easy-listening ballads such as "Three Times A Lady" and "Still".
About 1984, Lionel and his wife Brenda Richie informally adopted the three-year-old daughter of people associated with Lionel's band. They raised her as their daughter, Nicole Richie. Around 1990, they went through the legal formalities of adopting her. Brenda and Lionel divorced after a 16-year marriage, and then Lionel immediately married Diane Alexander. Lionel and Diane have two children together, but they are no longer married.
In 1986, he released Dancing On The Ceiling, another widely popular album that produced a run of US and UK hits. The title track, which revived the lively dance sound of "All Night Long", was accompanied by another striking video, a feature that played an increasingly important role in Richie's solo career. The critical consensus was that this album represented nothing more than a consolidation of his previous work, though Richie's collaboration with the country group Alabama on "Deep River Woman" did break new ground.
Since then, his ever-more relaxed schedule has kept his recording and live work to a minimum. He broke the silence in 1996 with Louder Than Words, on which he resisted any change of style or the musical fashion-hopping of the past decade. Instead, he stayed with his chosen path of well-crafted soul music, which in the intervening years has become known as Urban R&B.
The albums Time" (1998), "Renaissance" (2000), and "Just For You" (2004) failed to generate any hit singles in the US and were considered sales disappointments compared to Richie's previous efforts. However, "Renaissance" and "Just For You" reached both the Top 10 in the UK, producing a total of six Top 40 singles in that country.
In 2002 Richie's song "Running With the Night" was featured on the Rockstar North video game "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City".
In November 2005, Lionel Richie performed with Kenny Rogers on a CMT Crossroads special. The show gave an informative insight into their friendship both in and out of the music world. Richie was also the headliner at a 2006 Fourth of July tribute concert with Fantasia Barrino at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 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 US biggest hit 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.
For a further discography of Lionel Richie, please go to Lionel Richie discography
Richie helped to raise over $3.1 million for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. He was the featured performer at the Foundation's Soirée Bouquet, the annual spring gala.
Richie told the crowd that his grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 80s, but survived until she was 104 years old. He stated that she was his enduring symbol of hope and his reason for becoming a breast cancer activist.