Lionel Richie also known as Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. has deep honeyed tones that have festooned the radio frequencies of millions of soul and R&B music stations and his soulful voice has been frequently heard as well as his videos seen on multiple music TV channels around the globe.
Throughout his growing up years he had several musical influences; Gospel music on the college campus, R&B music in the community, and the radio which was Country music. So one can understand where all the influences came from, also his grandmother was a classical piano instructor at the Tuskegee University.
He thus grew up in a house and in a neighbourhood where Bach and the classicals were just present every day in his home and yet he was born and raised in Alabama, so Country and R and B music was very much a part of his everyday listening. He wrote songs in his college campus and didn’t just write for the Commodores. He also would write songs with somebody in mind, who he thought could sing it and he thought about Sinatra! When his co-producer James Carmichael learned that he had this secret stash of songs, he said to Lionel, “Let’s go back and see what you’ve written for other people.’ And when Lionel said that he wanted to give this to Sinatra, Carmichael remarked, “No you won’t, you’re going to give this to The Commodores”. They were a rhythm and blues group popular throughout the 1970s and ’80s and one of the most successful acts signed to Motown records. They produced numerous chart-topping and award-winning records. In 1967, Richie and several other Tuskegee Institute freshmen formed The Commodores. The original lineup was Milan Williams (keyboards), William King (trumpet), Walter “Clyde” Orange (drums), Ronald LaPread (bass), Thomas McClary (guitar), and Richie (saxophone, keyboards, vocals). They actually, and unbelievably, chose their name by selecting a word randomly in a dictionary.
Upon achieving popularity throughout Alabama, the Commodores travelled to New York in 1969. Performing before a standing room-only audience led the owner to book them for two more weeks.
By 1971 the Commodores were the openers for the Jackson 5 which brought them a record deal with Motown Records the following year. In 1974 they released their first three hits, In 1975 they joined the Rolling Stones on their US tour and in 1976 they released two more #1 hits, followed by Top 10 Hits which earned the group the American Music Award and became the biggest-selling record produced by Motown.
In 1979 the Commodores released the country-style Top 5 hit that led to other artists to request that Richie write music for them.
So it was that Lionel Ritchie wrote and produced Kenny Rogers’s #1 hit “Lady” in 1980.
In 1979 the Commodores released their last #1hit with Richie in the band. By that point the Commodores were the best-selling Motown act of the 1970s.
In 1981 Richie recorded the #1 single with Diana Ross, and left the Commodores by year’s end to pursue a solo career. Richie, the lead vocalist rose to superstardom as one of the most successful male soloists of the 1980s. In 1985 he co-wrote the timeless and famous charity hit “We Are The World” with Michael Jackson.
He said, “I didn’t know I was a writer. I thought you had to be able to read and write music and understand theory before you could write songs like that and then as I got into Motown, I realized probably half of the great writers there couldn’t read or write music. Once I got that permission, if you will, it set me free from the standpoint of technically trying to write the notes down. And we met James Carmichael, who was a master arranger at Motown, and it was just very easy to translate that to the record. The beautiful thing about it was, I think by not knowing so much theory, it set me free from the rules. I didn’t know there was an R&B chart, and a classical chart and a pop chart. When I was writing I thought I was competing against the ‘music business.’ Motown didn’t have a pop department and an R&B department — we just had Motown.”
“We went thought an incredible period, a period in the music business where we did 20 years of hit music back to back. For 20 years we had just no problem, here’s the next record. Then there was a period where corporate America discovered the music business, and they started buying up all of the record companies, and putting them under one tent. When we went thought that period and Motown was sold, it became PolyGram, and then Polydor and then Mercury and it went through Universal. It was going through so many different name changes. Just imagine, I had the same promotional team for 20 years. Were they ready to go with the next single? Of course! It was basically simultaneous release around the world.That’s just how it worked. Then we went through a period where we blurred the lines a lot. And now we’re back to regional releases so you’ll have a hit in London, maybe it’s a hit in Germany.”
His famous songs, ‘Hello’, ‘Truly’, and ‘Say You, Say Me’ have been conferred with the ‘evergreen’ status and have promoted him to celebrity status. He initially forged a successful career with the ‘Commodores’ and then went on to have a successful solo career both as a very famous song writer and later as a singer. .
Four times Grammy Award-recipient, Richie is considered one of the most successful singer-songwriters of the 20th century, with most of his songs peaking on important music charts performed by multiple singers! After a long and successful spell with the ‘Commodores’, he began writing and producing country hits and ended up becoming one of the most popular and successful balladeers of the 1980s.
Lionel Brockman was a well-known actor in Alabama, and Richie, Jr. was born on June 20, 1949, and raised in the Alabama town of Tuskegee. He grew up on the campus of Tuskegee Institute, which he attended and received his graduation from the Joliet Township High School, East Campus, in Joliet, Illinois. A standout, star tennis player in Joliet, he earned all-state honours and accepted a tennis scholarship to attend Tuskegee Institute, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and for sometime he also attended Auburn College.
This American singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and actor, became a vocalist, keyboard player and saxophonist for the Commodores in 1967, he was a founding member with other freshmen of the Tuskegee Institute. As a student in Tuskegee, Richie formed a succession of R&B groups in the mid-1960s. In 1967-68, he became a 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 initially as a support act to The Jackson 5. The Commodores then became established as a popular soul group.
By the late 1970s, Richie had begun to accept songwriting commissions from other artists. He composed “Lady” for Kenny Rogers, which hit #1 in 1980, and produced Kenny Rogers’ album the following year. Richie and Rogers maintained a strong friendship and gave many performances together in later years.
Latin jazz composer and salsa pioneer La Palabra enjoyed international success with his cover of “Lady”. Also in 1981 Richie sang the theme song in a film , a duet with Diana Ross. Issued as a single, the song topped the Canada, Brazil, Australia, Japan, New Zealand 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.
The Commodores became established as a popular soul group; their first several albums had a danceable, sound. Over time, Richie wrote and sang more soft, easy-listening ballads. That personal preference was most likely the reason for his split from the group which was more intent on encashing their hard earned reputation for uptempo R& B Numbers.
Lionel Richie launched a solo career in 1982 and his 1982 debut solo album, Lionel Richie, contained three hit singles: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, propelling him into the first rank of international superstars. He also co-wrote the 1985 charity single “We Are the World” with Michael Jackson, which sold over 20 million copies.
Over the course of his career, Richie has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time! He won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for “Can’t Slow Down”, and his other Grammy Awards include Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) in 1985 and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Truly” in 1983. Richie has also been nominated for two Golden Globe awards and won one. In 1982 he was nominated for Best Original Song. In 1986 he won the Golden Globe award for Best Original Song for “Say You, Say Me”. The song also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. In 2016, Richie received the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s highest honor, the Johnny Mercer Award.
This singer-songwriter, record producer and actor who has sold nearly 100 million records worldwide, is single-handedly known for his solo-career success, not banking on the earlier significant success he had, while recording as the lead singer with the ‘Commodores’. In his music career, he has collaborated with a number of musicians and singers including Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Enrique Iglesias, and Kenny Chesney. Apart from his career in the music industry, he has also appeared in films such as ‘Pariah’ and the documentary series, ‘Who Do You Think You Are?
Richie also considered studying divinity to become a priest in the Episcopal Church, but he ultimately decided to continue his musical career (Thank God!!!!). He is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, a national honor fraternity for band members, and an active life member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
The song, “All Night Long” a Caribbean-flavoured dance number was promoted by a music video. In 1984, Richie performed it at the closing ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
He had many Top 10 hits after this, the most well known one was of course the romantic ballad (and my personal favourite Lionel Richie number) “Hello” (1984), an out and out sentimental melody that was far removed from his original R&B roots. He made his return to recording and performing following the release of his first greatest-hits collection, in 1992. In 1996 with Louder Than Words, he resisted any change of style or the musical fashion-hopping of the past decade, sticking instead with his chosen path of well-crafted soul music, which in the intervening years has become known as contemporary R&B.
Some of his recent albums, such as Renaissance, have returned to his earlier style and achieved success in Europe.
Richie was the headliner at a 2006 Fourth of July tribute concert 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, replacing Antoine “Fats” Domino, who had fallen ill. Richie released his eighth studio album in 2006. The first single of the album was premiered in July 2006, becoming his biggest hit in the US in ten years peaking at #6. By 2006 end, Richie hosted and performed live on the British television show “An Audience with Lionel Richie”. Two months later, he performed “Hello” live on the 49th Grammy Awards show.
On May 2, 2008, Richie was the 21st recipient of the Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award at UCLA’s annual Spring Sing. In accepting the award, Richie said: “Forget about surviving 30 some odd years in the music business, Lionel Richie survived 27 years of Nicole Richie.” 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.
In May 2009, he announced that he would like to get The Commodores back together soon. Richie performed “Jesus is Love” at Michael Jackson’s memorial service.
On October 2, 2010, Richie performed at the AFL Grand Final Replay in Australia, both at the pre-game entertainment to a sell-out crowd and also post-match at AAMI Park.
Richie returned to Australia in 2011 where he and guest artist Guy Sebastian toured Australia and New Zealand with concert dates throughout March and April. Richie and Guy Sebastian have recorded Richie’s 1983 #1 single “All Night Long” together, to raise money for Australian floods and New Zealand earthquake relief. Richie had handpicked Sebastian to support him in Australia.
On March 26, 2012, Richie released his tenth studio album, Tuskegee. It features 13 of his hit songs performed as duets with country stars including Jennifer Nettles, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Darius Rucker, Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington, Little Big Town, Shania Twain, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, and Jimmy Buffett. After years of mediocre sales in the US., the album returned him to the top of the Billboard 200 chart, his first #1 album there for more than 25 years, and achieved Platinum status within six weeks of its release.
On June 7, 2013, Richie announced on NBC’s The Today Show that he would launch “All the Hits All Night Long”, his first North American tour in over a decade. The tour began on in Hollywood, Florida, and ended in Los Angeles, California.
On June 28, 2015, Richie played to an audience of between 100,000 and 120,000 people at the Glastonbury Festival, England. His show was described as “triumphant” by the BBC and was followed by his return to the top of the UK albums chart with a reissued compilation album of his work as both a solo artist and with the Commodores. In 2017, ABC announced that Richie would be a judge for the revival of American Idol.
In May 2017, Lionel Richie was honoured at Berklee College of Music during the 2017 Commencement Concert where graduating students performed a medley of his discography. Richie was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music. In 2017, Lionel Richie received the Kennedy Center Honors.
On March 25, 2019, Richie announced a 33-date tour across North America for the summer. His ‘Hello Tour’ kicked off on May 10 at Arlington’s KAABOO Festival and ran through August. In
recent years, Richie has become a popular musician in various Arab states, and has performed in Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Libya. John Berman for ABC News reported in 2006 that “Iraqis get misty-eyed by the mere mention of his name. ‘I love Lionel Richie,’ they say. They can sing an entire Lionel Richie song.” Berman wrote that Richie said he was told that Iraqi civilians were playing “All Night Long” the night U.S. tanks invaded Baghdad. Richie was against the war and has said he would like to perform in Baghdad someday.
Richie was the first person to receive an RIAA diamond album award.
In 1985, he collaborated with superstar Michael Jackson for the charity single hit “We are the World”.
From 2002 to 2005, Richie’s song ‘Running with the
Night’ was featured on the video game, ‘Grand Theft Auto’. During this time, he was also seen in the British series, ‘Top Gear’ and on a ‘CMT Crossroads’ episode.
In 2006, he performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and also released his studio album. The album went on to become one of the biggest hits of the decade. The same year, he hosted and performed in the series, ‘An Audience with Lionel Richie’.
From 2007 to 2009, he was seen on ‘Australian Idol’, performed at the Times Square for the New Year’s Eve celebration. In 2009, he was seen performing at Michael Jackson’s memorial service.
In 2010, he performed at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington DC and he also performed at the AFL Grand Final Replay. Two years later, he released his tenth studio album, ‘Tuskegee’, which also features the hit singles of other recording artists.
In 2013, he announced that he would launch the ‘All the Nights All Night Long’ tour, on ‘The Today Show’ on NBC.
He was inducted into the ‘Songwriters Hall of Fame’, in 1994 and won the Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2008.
He was also awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Lionel Richie went into Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles way before the current star Adele was even born, and stamped his name on the song title “Hello,” whether he wants to admit the ownership or not.
The song became his second #1 from “Can’t Slow Down,” which was his second solo album since leaving The Commodores.
It won the 1984 Grammy for “Album of the Year” and is still the biggest-selling album in the history of Motown Records.
But the song wasn’t just a magnet for ridiculous album sales and every major music award in 1984. It also became the source of a copyright infringement lawsuit, and spawned a music video that had everyone confused, including Richie himself.
And today, “Hello” is the gift that just keeps on giving!
There aren’t that many singers who start off in a successful group and become bigger stars once they become solo artists. Lionel Richie beat the odds and became one of the most successful solo artists of all time.
He has had a very successful solo career and managed to have hits in every decade since he became a solo artist.
He was so big at a point that his popularity could have rivalled such acts as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Prince, George Michael, Bruce Springsteen as well as other acts in the 80’s.
Richie was determined to have the music world notice him among the other musical heavyweights who were out at the time.
He was inducted into the ‘Songwriters Hall of Fame’, in 1994.
From early fame with the Commodores to finding his own voice, Richie remains a master at crossing genres and embracing unique collaborations!
The entire recording of the program on AIR Delhi FM Gold is available on this link: https://usaupload.com/6t1k/AIR_Delhi_FM_Gold_22-05-16_1120.mp3
1. All night long:
“All Night Long (All Night)” is from the 1983 album, “Can’t Slow Down”, which was his second solo album after separating from the Commodores, “Lionel Richie” was his first . It charted #2 in UK & #1 in US.
In this song, Lionel Richie invites us to a spectacular party where there’s going to be music, and dance. Richie wrote the song and released it as the lead single from his second solo album, “Can’t Slow Down”. It went to #1 in America, as did “Truly” from his very first eponymous album.
It took him about two months to write this song, which as he told The Epoch Times he got the vibe for from his vacations in the Caribbean. He explained: “I’m one of those guys that 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 this song, it was very simple. All I had to do was find that beat that everybody dances to when they go on a 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 of course, Spanish for party.
“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 as I didn’t have a translator. 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.”
Richard Marx, before he found lasting fame with his own hits, supplied backing vocals on this track as he did with Lionel Richie’s first album. You can even see him in the official video of ” Dancing on the ceiling” 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,
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 of sorts for the Iraqi people during the 2003 invasion. Richie told, “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.”
Amazingly Richie was actually met with incredulity when he revealed that he was releasing this Calypso-flavoured song. He told, “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 Cuba Gooding Jr., making his first appearance as an entertainer.
The song was released on the Motown Label, co-produced with James Carmichael. It topped the Hot 100 for four weeks.
When Richie was honoured 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.
The song, Lionel Richie’s third #1 song outside of his band, the Commodores, on November 12, 1983, became one of the many hits from the mega-platinum album, “Can’t Slow Down” and completed its climb to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 on its way to becoming one of the anthems of his career.
Lionel’s second solo album, Can’t Slow Down, was an absolute sales juggernaut, certified ten-times platinum in America in just over two years, by the end of 1985. By some distance the bestselling album of Richie’s stellar career, its estimated worldwide sales are now over 20 million!!!
Recorded at Ocean Way Studios on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles in the spring of 1983, the track featured such celebrated players as Greg Phillinganes on synthesisers, Paulinho da Costa on percussion, and a team of backing vocalists that included a then-unknown Richard Marx.
As for the Jamaican-style chant that had Richie and the chorus singing “Tom bo li de say di moi ya, yeah, jambo, jumbo,” what did it mean? This writer asked Lionel that very question in an interview for British pop weekly Record Mirror at the time of the single’s success. “If you go back and try to find out what it means,” he said, “it’s like most of Bob Marley’s chants, you know what they mean – you know what I’m saying? It’s an old Jamaican chant.”
It’s almost impossible to listen to the song and not have a beaming smile on one’s face while the feet tap along. Lionel wrote the song combining soulful Commodores style music with Caribbean influences.
Looking for some African phrases to complement the global-inspired beat, Richie said he called up a friend who worked at the United Nations. The singer-songwriter was informed that there are “101 African dialects” and that it would take weeks to get just a few words. “Jambo” means “hello” in Swahili, a language spoken throughout East and Southeast Africa.
The classic party-filled video was a huge hit in both US & UK. The beats are so infectious that when the orchestra started playing this song during the closing ceremony of the 1984 LA Olympics, all the athletes and people on the field spontaneously started dancing and the people in the stands were totally mesmerized. The orchestra, obviously caught up on the feeling of the power of music and “unity in diversity” and continued to play the chorus. Finally the officials decided it would become difficult to control the crowd so it shut down the music. But for those few minutes, Lionel Richie gave the athletes, the crowd, and even those of us watching the event on TV, the joy of celebrating it together.
They say that the pen is mightier than the sword; I guess music is too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqAvFx3NxUM
“Lady” is a song which is arguable the biggest hit by Kenny Rogers and charted at #12 in UK & #1 in US. Lionel Richie gave him the lyrics as his own group, The Commodores refused to play a soft, slow, soulful, romantic ballad.
Lionel Richie performed “Lady” himself on his 1998 album, “Time“, and he and Kenny Rogers performed the song as a duet on Lionel Richie’s 2012 release, “Tuskegee“. Lionel Richie had originally pitched this song to the Commodores and they turned it down. Then later, it was given to Kenny Rogers to record and it became the biggest selling hit single for him as a solo artist.
Kenny Rogers once told an interviewer, “The idea was that Lionel would come from R&B and I’d come from country, and we’d meet somewhere in pop.”
The success of “Lady” also was a big boost to Richie’s career. The production work on the song was his first, outside the Commodores and foreshadowed his success as a solo act during the 1980s. Rogers was also a featured vocalist on “We Are the World”, co-written by Richie with Michael Jackson.
“Lady,” according to music historian Fred Bronson, would prove to be an important record for both Richie and Rogers. It became the first record of the 1980s to chart on all four of Billboard magazine’s singles charts.
It reached #1 on three of those charts in late 1980. On the Hot 100, “Lady” reached the summit in November and stayed at the top for a massive six-week stint (the longest run of the year). “Lady”, also peaked at #42 on the Top Soul Singles chart. Billboard ranked it at the #3 song for 1981. The song “Lady” continues to enthrall with the smooth combination of Kenny’s velvety voice. It is listed at #60 on Billboard’s All-Time Top 100.
In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone, Richie recalled the genesis of his first collaboration with Rogers, which resulted in not only a breakthrough hit but also a lasting friendship between the two as well.
“I’m not used to pitching songs, but I had this song called, ‘Baby,’” Richie said. “I land in Vegas, and all I prepared is the first verse, the way I would normally do it for the Commodores.” Richie had originally pitched this song to the Commodores, but they turned it down.
Rogers’ former manager, Garth Shaw, then picked up the story and told Rogers, “there’s some songwriter out here, and he wants to play you a song.”
Rogers immediately flew to Las Vegas to meet Richie and hear the demo & Richie started playing this on an out-of-tune piano in the dressing room. Kenny was enamored instantly but asked for one word to be changed: so “Baby” became “Lady”
This song is credited with jumpstarting Richie’s solo career because it proved that he was in fact a capable musician outside of the Commodores. In fact it has been said that out of all the mega-hits which Lionel was part of, this one proved to be the most profitable to him personally. This soulful ballad remained at the summit for six weeks, hardly a surprise to anyone who understands and likes good music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz1jrlX27kE
3. Dancing on the Ceiling:
“Dancing On The Ceiling” is from the 1986 album of the same name.
It charted at #7in UK & #2 in US.
Not to be confused with the slower 1930 Rodgers/Hart composition of the same name, the title track of Richie’s 3rd solo album is a show opener, and one that sets the mood for the rest of the concert, which in keeping with the major body of his work, is usually a fun song which has an up-tempo rock, pop and R&B sound. It could have easily been considered a novelty song because of its title, but it’s still a greatly uplifting song that will have one dancing. The synthesizer is addictive and the guitar riff gives the song the rock edge. The contagious song does a great job vocally considering the type of song it is, for Lionel uses really soulful vocals for a pop song.
The song lyrics are literally about dancing on the ceiling.
Richie co-wrote the song with Mike Frenchnik and Carlos Rios, and spared no expense; the video is said to have cost a staggering $400,000! It was one of the most memorable clips of the ’80s, using the rotating room effect made famous in the 1951 movie where Fred Astaire danced on the ceiling. The film was directed by Stanley Donen, and he was enlisted to do the same effect on Richie’s video, which retained its wow factor 35 years later, taking it to another level by having a number of people rotating in the room at the same time, rather than just one. In 2010, the movie Inception used more complex variations on the same effect.
Everything from the gravity-defying trick photography techniques to the catchy tune accompanying the storyline (a surprise party for Lionel), along with the camaraderie of the people plus memorable cameos by Cheech Marin and Rodney Dangerfield made for a once in a generation (if not once in a lifetime experience). The rotating room (also referred to as a gimbel machine in a DVD bonus feature on the making of this video in Lionel Richie’s video collection) was also used in High School Musical 3 on the Zac Efron solo musical number “Scream” (not to be confused with the Michael and Janet Jackson song). In Zac’s case, he performed alone (as did Fred Astaire) and the effect was meant to be the greatest vision ever seen captured on film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovo6zwv6DX4
4. Stuck on you…
“Stuck On You” is a ballad from Richie’s Grammy Award winning 1983 album, “Can’t Slow Down”.
It is actually Lionel Richie’s Country Music debut song. Richie is one of the most soulful musicians in the industry and his songs can genuinely melt hearts with a choice of music that can pierce into one’s very soul. Nevertheless, he started his career as a R&B and soul and pop artist and is considered as one of the most successful singers outside the country scene until he decided to penetrate the world of country. Some rolled their eyes while some were happy and welcomed Lionel wholeheartedly. Some of his country music singles were accepted and even topped the country charts.
“Stuck On You” happens to be one of Lionel’s best country songs ever penned. It might be pop country, but it’s still country and it’s still embraced by the country music lovers worldwide. In fact, it placed #24 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart: a testimony to the fact that Lionel’s decision to create country sounds was worth the risk. This particular song of Lionel was his debut single as a country musician as it embraced the country music theme.
Like most of Richie’s singles “Stuck On You”, made a strong showing on the R&B chart, placing at #8. But the song was also marketed to country radio and even landed on the Country chart, reaching #24 and giving Richie his first appearance there. On the cover of the single, Richie is even shown wearing a cowboy hat.
Richie was by then popular on MTV (which initially had ignored his first video as he was black), but he didn’t make a video for this song.
The song has been used in various commercials over the years. In 2022, it featured in a Pringles commercial. The spot also aired during the 2022 Super Bowl.
It all started in 1967-68, when a group of pledges to the Alpha Pi Alpha fraternity at Tuskegee University with little to no training experience, entered into a talent contest where they had to play music and sing impromptu. The initiated brothers watched them intently knowing they would fail. The group not only won the contest hands down, but went on to produce several platinum albums and win several Grammys as well.This group later became known as the Commodores but there is more to the story. The lead singer of the Commodores constantly had diferences with the band because they wanted to play up-tempo music that was fast and snappy, and he wanted to sing slow, soft ballads. The differences would eventually lead to him splitting from the band and going solo. That lead singer’s name was Lionel Richie and the rest as they say is history. Amazing song indeed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PozM4bs-g7s
5. Say you, say me
“Say You, Say Me” is from the 1985, “White Nights” soundtrack
It charted: #8 in UK & #1 in US.
At the time, anyone making a big movie in Hollywood in the 80s, always wanted a Lionel Richie song for it. One would do whatever it took. Lionel Richie at times couldn’t figure out a way to work one’s movie’s title into the song., but whatever it was, he was ready to roll it out. Richie’s song couldn’t be on the soundtrack album either but even that didn’t matter as he still got the song, and a music video could be created where Richie sincerely emoted over scenes from the movie that had been made. And that could be the selling point.
Just two years earlier, he’d released “Can’t Slow Down”, an album that was a smash hit, winning the Album Of The Year Grammy, and propelled two singles to #1. After that, Richie had co-written the massive all-star charity single, “We Are The World” with Michael Jackson.
Richie’s next record was going to be a big deal, whatever form it took. So the producers of “White Nights”, the Taylor Hackford movie about the Russian- ballet dancer of USSR, did everything possible to get Richie to write a song for their movie.
So Hackford personally asked Richie to write the title theme for “White Nights”, and he showed Richie a print of the film. Richie liked the movie, and he agreed to do it, but he couldn’t figure out how to write a song called “White Nights.” Instead, Richie came up with a ballad called “Say You, Say Me,” and the film’s producers were happy to take it. But there was another hitch. Richie was signed to Motown, and Motown didn’t want the next Lionel Richie single to show up on a soundtrack album that would come out on a competing record label.
So Motown withheld, “Say You, Say Me” from the “White Nights” soundtrack album. Without Richie’s song, the “White Nights” soundtrack is a truly strange time capsule that features a heavy vocoder Lou Reed song. Motown’s refusal to cooperate definitely hurt the “White Nights” soundtrack.
It’s weird to think that anyone who heard “Say You, Say Me” , had figured out that it would be an automatic smash, and one that would be worthy of all that trouble as it’s a weird song, a true relic of its moment. In some ways, “Say You, Say Me” is a pure autopilot Lionel Richie ballad. In others, it’s a bizarre song with nonsensical lyrics and a mid-song dance-pop break that has nothing to do with the rest of the track. Maybe those bits of weirdness are why “Say You, Say Me” hasn’t resonated in the way that a song like “Hello” has. But those bits of weirdness are also the most likable parts of the song.
On the most basic level, “Say You, Say Me” is just Lionel Richie in his elements. It’s got strings and vague ballad lyrics and a big chorus. It’s Lionel Richie doing Lionel Richie things.
Richie recorded the song with many of the same session-musician aces who played on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, including Toto’s Steve Lukather.
Of course, “Say You, Say Me” turned out to be massive, thus justifying all the work that the movie producers put into securing the track. “Say You, Say Me” held down the #1 spot for four weeks, and it won a Golden Globe and an Oscar. At the Academy Awards that year, Richie defeated two different #1 hits, and he also defeated himself. Richie was nominated twice in the same category — for “Say You, Say Me” and for “Miss Celie’s Blues” from The Color Purple, which he’d co-written with Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton.
“Say You, Say Me” won the Oscar, and Richie accepted the award from Singin’ In The Rain stars Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor. Years later, Huey Lewis said that he figured out that he’d lost the Oscar when he saw that Richie had an aisle seat.
Richie was planning on calling his next album “Say You, Say Me”, but he spent too long reworking it, and it didn’t come out until August of 1986. “Say You, Say Me” wasn’t a current song anymore by then, so Richie called it Dancing On The Ceiling. Including “Say You, Say Me,” four of the album’s singles went into the top 10, though none of the other songs made it to #1. The title track got as high as #2. Dancing On The Ceiling sold 4 million copies.
“Say You, Say Me”, the soft R&B ballad, with an upbeat dance bridge, turned out to be the final #1 hit of this legacy artist.
And although Motown refused to let Atlantic Records include this on the movie’s soundtrack album because they didn’t want Richie’s first release since his 1983’s “Can’t Slow Down” to be from a different label, Richie included the song on his next album, “Dancing On The Ceiling” (he was going to call it “Say You, Say Me”, but too much time passed between the single going to #1 in 1985 and the album’s release in 1986), the single topped the Hot 100.
This earned Richie an Oscar for Best Original Song, beating out another #1 single from the movie performed by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin. It also won a Golden Globe in the same category.
In 2012, Richie released the album Tuskegee, which featured country interpretations of his hits. Jason Aldean joined him on a version of this tune.
This was also played on The Simpsons in the 2007 episode “He Loves to Fly and He D’ohs” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCP5rawjPKA
6. Running with the night….
“Running With The Night”, the up-tempo ballad, is from the 1983 album, “Can’t Slow Down” which charted at #9 in UK and #7 in US.
Notwithstanding the nexus between Bill Haley and Chuck Berry going back to the 1950s, Michael Jackson is generally credited with the fusion of black music and contemporary rock. But he was far from the only artist to do so, and shortly after the release of Jackson’s “Thriller” album, Lionel Richie unleashed, “Can’t Slow Down”, the multi-platinum album which features the uptempo smash hit, “Running With The Night.”
Richie co-wrote this with the lyricist Cynthia Weil, and co-produced it with James Anthony Carmichael; the blistering guitar solo is played by Steve Lukather of Toto and Jeff Porcaro provides the drums. The guitar solo by Lukather was recorded in only one take, unbeknownst to him! Basically Lukather told Richie and producer Carmichael to just play it so that he could warm up to it. They played it without telling Lukather they were recording it already. When Luke said, “ok I think I got it. I’m ready, let’s do this”, Richie told him: “it’s done! What you just did is perfect!” Lukather’s session was complete within 15min.
This song has a very urban vibe with a pop, rock and dance sound to it and the lyrics are purposely vague, yet sound poetic. You would have to pay attention to the lyrics and come up with your very own interpretation leaving the listener to fill in the details while the couple keeps on roaming around. Steve Lukather from Toto plays the guitar solo which is a blistering guitar riff that is almost comparable to Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s, “Beat It.” The baseline is impeccable and has a thumping beat that will get one moving around. Richie’s vocals are spot n once again which blends perfectly with the music. He does some runs towards the end of the song that are absolutely flawless.
When Richard Marx moved from Chicago to Los Angeles early in his career, and was amassing rejection letters for his demos, Lionel Richie gave him a shot, and had him sing backup on this track (and a few others as well in his initial albums). Before he hit it big as a solo artist, Marx lent his vocals to several other Richie recordings, including “All Night Long (All Night).”
The second single from the “Can’t Slow Down” album, this was sandwiched between two US #1 hits: the first single “All Night Long (All Night)” and the third, “Hello.” This run of hits spanned six months, with “All Night Long” hitting the top in November 1983, “Running With The Night” peaking at #7 in February 1984, and “Hello” going to #1 in May 1984.
Richie’s “Hello” video, is his most memorable one from this era, but “Running With The Night” also had a very ambitious video, directed by Bob Giraldi. It finds Richie crashing a wedding and livening up the party with a group dance number, which was all the rage in videos at the time. Richie is not known for his dancing, but he executes some basic choreography in the clip.
Richie sang this in Jan 1985 to open the American Music Awards, where he won five trophies. He also hosted the show, meaning he had to show up in the morning for rehearsals. After the broadcast, his night was far from over. He and 44 other singers headed to A&M Recording Studios to record “We Are The World,” which he wrote with Michael Jackson. The session didn’t end until the next morning, capping a very productive and exhausting day for Richie. From 2002 to 2005, Richie’s song ‘Running with the Night’ was featured on the famous video game, ‘Grand Theft Auto’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXJ5IHwBLrA
7. Penny lover
“Penny Lover” is a mid-tempo ballad from the 1983 album, “Can’t Slow Down”
It is the title of the 5th and final single released from Lionel Richie’s multi-platinum and Grammy Award-winning album and was written by Richie and his then-wife, Brenda Harvey Richie, making the single his first solo #1 (on the Adult Contemporary chart) to credit a co-writer.
It was formerly known as Lfranco.
As with all the other singles taken from this album, “Penny Lover” was a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was another of his unfailingly effective universal-appeal ballads where Richie reminisces about how he met his lover from Penny Street, which was just a few blocks away from The Tuskegee campus, where they were all students and hopes she’ll never leave him.
The music video was helmed by director Bob Giraldi, who had also directed “Running with the Night” and “Hello”.
This song was part of the 1985 Rob Reiner movie, “The Sure Thing”, starring John Cusack. A wonderful song that sounds fresh decades after it was first released by Lionel Richie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9zX1V2WYhE
“You Are” song by Lionel Richie appears on his self-titled debut solo album, “Lionel Richie”.
His first solo single was “Truly,” which held to the theme and also went to #1. “You Are” came next, and while it broke his run of chart-toppers, reaching the top 5 on three major Billboard music charts, it had a more upbeat arrangement than many of his slower ballads, including a horn section. It also picked up the tempo, giving him a song with some energy that would be heard in the following year.
Richard Marx sang backup on this track. His first job in music was singing on the Lionel Richie album, and he proved himself on this track, which required some deft background vocals.
Before achieving popularity for his own music, singer Richard Marx was a studio musician who can be heard singing backing vocals on “You Are” as well as other songs from Richie’s debut album.
Richie re-worked the song as a duet with country singer Blake Shelton for Richie’s 2012 Tuskegee album.
This is very much a song, with a lyric filled with metaphor. We learn that the lady mentioned is (metaphorically) both the sun and the rain, which makes his life this foolish game.
Richie made a video for this song, but MTV ignored it as the network didn’t give black artists significant airtime until Michael Jackson broke through in 1983. Later that year, Richie was welcomed on MTV with his video for “All Night Long (All Night).” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXMDWfLclNY
9. Love will conquer all..
“Love Will Conquer All” a pop soul song is from the 1986 album
“Dancing On The Ceiling”, (which Lionel Richie originally wanted to call “Say you, say me”)
The song’s composers were Lionel Richie, along with Greg Phillinganes, and Cynthia Weil and
featured Marva King on the backing vocals.
“Love Will Conquer All”, single spent two weeks at #1 and peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Love Will Conquer All”, also went to #2 for two weeks on the soul chart.
The performers were;
Lionel Richie (vocals),
Marva King ( backing vocals)
Paul Leim (Drums)
Nathan East (e-bass, Elektrischer Bass)
Greg Phillinganes (synthesizer)
Michael Boddicker (synthesizer)
Paulinho da Costa (percussion)
David Cochrane (guitar).
The video features a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
“Love Will Conquer All”, a soulful ballad is the third single from the popular “Dancing on the Ceiling” album. This song has a pop and soul sound and the music has a wonderful baseline. Although Richie and Marva King sing throughout the song, it isn’t billed as a duet, but it may as well be, as they have phenomenal vocal harmonies throughout the tune. King’s addition to the song makes it work. Richie’s baritone vocals and King’s soprano vocals flow nicely to create a sound harmonic with the music to create this flawless gem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i45qDsId1E
“Hello”, by Lionel Richie is from the 1983 album,
“Can’t Slow Down” which charted at #1 in both UK & US.
It was Lionel Richie the world was always looking for!
It’s not only his most famous song but also one of the greatest ballads of all time as this unstoppable Motown ballad made its transatlantic conquest on March 24, 1984, before topping the American pop chart on May 12 that year. The Lionel Richie ballad “Hello,” written by the former Commodores lead singer with James Anthony Carmichael, enjoyed a six-week run at the UK summit before starting a two-week run atop the Hot 100. The song also enjoyed a three-week reign on the Billboard R&B chart. Not bad for a composition which he had decided not to use on his first, self-titled solo album. Lionel was also thinking of passing it up for the second, “Can’t Slow Down”.
He also co-produced it with his Motown colleague James Anthony Carmichael.
After debuting in the UK at #25 and then climbing to #5, “Hello” raced to #1. Richie thus consolidated his position as Motown’s hottest star of the mid-1980s. But he wasn’t the label’s only artist with an international hit at the time. Rockwell, the son of Motown founder Berry Gordy, was also in the UK charts which featured vocals by both Michael and Jermaine Jackson.
For all the enduring success enjoyed by Lionel Richie around the world over more than 40 years, “Hello” remains his only solo UK chart-topping single. “Can’t Slow Down”, is also his only #1 studio album. But he did achieve another British bestseller in 1992, with the “Back To Front” compilation. Then in July 2015, his “Definitive Collection” with the Commodores raced to the top in the wake of Lionel’s Glastonbury Festival performance, nearly 12 years after it first charted.
“Hello” was the seventh-bestselling single of the UK chart year, and “Can’t Slow Down” the #1 album. The ballad also topped the charts in Holland, Switzerland, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere. In the US, it took over at the Hot 100 peak from Phil Collins.
Lionel said, “My co-producer came over to my house while I was at the piano, and I sang, ‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for?’ when he walked in. He said, ‘Finish it,’ even though it wasn’t a song,” Lionel told radio station Z955. He said it’d be a hit – and it was.”
During the video, he finds that the sculptress has made a clay model of his head so while making the video, Lionel told director Bob Giraldi that the story about a blind woman had no connection to the song. However, Giraldi replied: “You’re not creating the story, I am.”
‘Hello’ is one of the top videos ever. The song was promoted with video which included dialogues but Giraldi, who also directed Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” stands by it. He’s quoted in the book “I Want My MTV”, as saying, “I came up with the idea of a blind girl. ‘Hello’ is one of the top videos ever.” Giraldi adds that Richie was concerned that the bust didn’t look like him, until Giraldi pointed out that the girl making it was supposed to be blind.
The girl who played the blind sculptress in the video was a 26-year-old fully sighted actress named Laura Carrington, who is actually referred to in the video by the same name. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHONNcZbwDY
The song is one of Lionel Richie’s most successful songs, topping the charts in 9 countries including the UK and US.
However, the song’s success has been a bit of a burden on poor Lionel.
If you ever meet Richie please resist the urge to say, “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” The singer says that he hears this line constantly – not just on the phone, but pretty much anywhere he goes even when he met Prince Charles! How corny and how predictable but also utterly understandable.
Recorded at Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, this was the second #1 song from Richie’s second solo album after leaving the Commodores. “Can’t Slow Down” won the Grammy for Album of the Year, and is the biggest-selling album in the history of Motown Records.
When you think of Motown, you probably think of Michael Jackson but Lionel Richie was also one of their biggest stars, and “Hello” was one of their biggest hits, especially in Britain. It was Motown’s first ever UK million selling single.
Richie played the piano himself on this track. Other musicians who played on it include Darrell Jones and Tim May on guitars, Paul Leim on drums, and Joe Chemay on bass.
So folks, this was my presentation of Lionel Richie, one of my really favourite singer and songwriters and one of the most celebrated ones of my time. Stay safe and happy. The harsh summer will surely give way to the welcome rains.