Baker Street Gerry Rafferty
Lionel Richie is one of the world's most successful artists, but do you know all of his life story?
Lionel Brockman Richie Jr was born on June 20, 1949, in Tuskegee, Alabama. He has said before in interview: "By growing up in Alabama I had a melting pot of the whole pie: R&B, gospel, country." His mother was the principle of an elementary school and his father worked for an ammunition plant. Richie was a star tennis player, and flirted with joining the priesthood, until realising music was his calling. He became lead singer for The Commodores in 1968.
The Commodores originated while its members were at university at the Tuskegee Institute. They chose their name by randomly opening the dictionary and later joked they lucked out as they could have been called 'The Commodes'. After winning the university's annual freshman talent contest they signed for one record with Atlantic Records before moving to Motown and finding fame supporting the Jackson 5. Richie wrote and sang on their romantic classics such as Easy, Three Times A Lady and Still.
On October 18th 1975, Richie married his college sweetheart Brenda Harvey. In 1983 they would informally adopt the daughter of one of Richie's band members. The band member, Peter Michael Escovedo, could not support the child financially. Nicole Camille Escovedo would become known as Nicole Richie.
In 1981 Richie sang the theme song for the film Endless Love, a duet with Diana Ross. Its success encouraged Richie to branch out on his own and in 1982 he left The Commodores to release his self-titled debut album. The record spawned the number one single Truly, the album hit number 3 on the charts and sold 4 million copies. Lionel Richie had officially arrived.
Richie's 1983 followup Can't Slow Down sold over 8 million copies and won two Grammy awards for the man himself. It produced the anthemic, Caribbean-flavoured song All Night Long which went to number one, and Richie performed at the closing ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Games in Los Angeles. More success followed with the internationally famous Hello. It looked like everything was on an upwards roll for the singer...
Shortly after winning an Oscar for White Nights theme song Say You, Say Me in 1985, and during the release of his last huge hit album Dancing On The Ceiling (1986), Richie began an affair with Diane Alexander. In 1988, whilst Richie and Alexander were enjoying a dalliance in a hotel room, there came a sharp knock on the door. 'Room Service!' Upon opening the door a crack, it was broken in, and Richie was shocked to find it was his wife Brenda Harvey. Harvey assaulted both Richie and Alexander.
Richie would take a short break from pop music in 1987, exhausted from his work schedule and wanting to care for his ailing father back home in Alabama. His father died in 1990, and Richie made his return to record making with his greatest hits collection Back to Front in 1992. He would finally marry Alexander, after his divorce from Harvey, in 1995.
Since the 90s Richie has released many albums featuring his signature sound of smooth R'n'B, although none have matched the commercial success of his 1980s heyday. However, he continues to wow and impress his fans the world over. Rumour has it he is incomparably popular in the Arab world, with All Night Long being heard blared from the windows of Baghdad as the US tanks invaded in 2003. Most recently, he rocked the whole of Glastonbury Festival 2015, performing to 120,000 fans.