Lionel Richie

Dublin Core


Lionel Richie


Macon County, Tuskegee, Music, Alabama Music Hall of Fame


Lionel Richie (June 20, 1949- )

Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. was born on June 20, 1949 in Tuskegee, Alabama. He grew up on the campus of the Tuskegee Institute where many members of his family had worked for two generations. While in college at Tuskegee, Richie joined the Commodores, the most successful group on the Motown label during the late 1970s. Richie was the group’s saxophonist, sometime vocalist, and wrote songs like “Easy,” “Three Times a Lady,” and “Still”; the last two became number one pop hits. In 1980, Richie wrote and produced “Lady” for country-pop singer Kenny Rogers, which became a number one hit across the board. The next year, his duet “Endless Love” with Diana Ross topped the charts for nine weeks, becoming the most successful single in Motown history. By the end of 1981, Richie decided to pursue a solo career.

His first solo album "Lionel Richie" was released in 1982 and was an immediate success. His first solo, “Truly,” became a number one hit. His next album, "Can’t Slow Down", produced five top ten singles including “All Night Long” and “Hello.” The album sold over ten million copies and won the 1984 Grammy for Album of the Year. Richie was doing so well he was invited to perform at the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1985, he worked with Michael Jackson to co-write “We Are the World” to help raise money for famine relief in Africa. By the end of the year, he released another hit single, “Say You, Say Me,” preceding his next album "Dancing on the Ceiling," which sold four million copies.

Exhausted from two decades of recording and performing, Richie stepped back from making music in 1987. He also took time to care for his father. In 1992, he returned to music to release a compilation album including solo hits, Commodore tracks, and three new songs including the number one hit “Do It to Me.” Richie did not record again until 1996 following the loss of his father and the breakup of his marriage. The album, "Louder Than Words", was Richie’s attempt to update his sound; it reached the top 30 and went gold but did not produce any major singles. His 1998 album returned to his signature sound but did not do well. "Renaissance," released in the U.S. in 2001, did much better and went platinum in the U.K. Three years later, following a second divorce, he released "Just for You" which was also successful in the U.K. His 2006 album "Coming Home" included collaborations with an all-star cast and reached the Top 10 in pop and R&B. His album "Just Go", in 2009, featured collaborations with Stargate, Akon, and others. The album "Tuskegee", released in 2012, featured country versions of his past hits including “Easy,” “Hello,” and “Dancing on the Ceiling” and reached the top of the U. S. and country charts.

Richie has won three Grammys, six American Music Awards, and a 1986 Oscar for Best Original Song. He has also been awarded two American Black Achievement Awards from Ebony magazine. He was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1997.

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Joy Caitlin Monroe, University of North Alabama


Huey, Steve. “Lionel Richie Biography.” All Music. (2016)

“Lionel Richie.” Alabama Music Hall of Fame. (2016)


Alabama Cultural Resource Survey