The Story of... 'Hello' by Lionel Richie

22 April 2021, 16:07

The Story of... 'Hello' by Lionel Richie
The Story of... 'Hello' by Lionel Richie. Picture: Motown/YouTube

By Tom Eames

Lionel Richie's most famous song 'Hello' is also one of the greatest ballads of all time.

It's impossible not to think of Lionel's clay head when hearing those opening bars, but what inspired the song and what happened to the girl in the music video?

Read more: Lionel Richie's 10 greatest ever songs

Here's all the important and interesting facts about the classic love song:

  1. Who wrote 'Hello' by Lionel Richie?

    Lionel Richie and wife Brenda Harvey in 1984
    Lionel Richie and wife Brenda Harvey in 1984. Picture: Getty

    Lionel Richie wrote the ballad, and included it on his 1984 album Can't Slow Down.

    He also co-produced it with his longtime Motown colleague James Anthony Carmichael.

    He had actually written it for his first solo album, but decided to leave it off.

    Thankfully, his then-wife Brenda loved the song, and convinced him to include it on his second album.

  2. What inspired 'Hello'?

    When Lionel was young, he often saw beautiful women walk past him, but was far too shy to talk to them.

    He explained that he thought to himself, 'Hello, is it me you're looking for'.

    Years later, he started to write a song using the same phrase, but gave up after suffering from writer's block.

    QUIZ: How well do you know Lionel Richie's classic lyrics?

    “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.

    “I thought it was so corny, but he said it’d be a hit – and it was.”

    However, his record producer liked the line enough, and urged him to finish it.

  3. Its music video became rather iconic

    Lionel Richie - Hello (Official Music Video)

    In the video, Lionel Richie plays a teacher, Mr Reynolds, who falls in love with a blind pottery student, Laura.

    During the video, he finds that she has made a 'perfect' clay model of his head.

    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."

    Read more: Lionel Richie brings back 'Hello' clay head in hilarious new Doritos advert

    Sadly, the video was voted the 'worst music video of all time' in a poll of 8,000 music fans by UK TV music channel The Box.

    Giraldi, who also directed Michael Jackson's 'Beat It', defended it, by saying: "I came up with the idea of a blind girl and Lionel as a teacher. 'Hello' is one of the top videos ever."

    Giraldi added that Lionel didn't think the bust looked like him enough, until Giraldi pointed out that the girl making it was supposed to be blind.

  4. Who played the blind girl and where is she now?

    Laura Carrington in 1985
    Laura Carrington in 1985. Picture: Getty

    The girl who played the blind student was a 26-year-old fully sighted actress named Laura Carrington.

    She also played Dr Simone Ravelle Hardy on General Hospital in the late 1980s, but has largely been inactive in the acting world since the early 1990s.

    She has been married for over 25 years to renowned photographer Anthony Barboza.

    They have three children: Danica Barboza, Alexio Barboza and Lien Barboza.

  5. How did it perform in the charts?

    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 old Lionel. The singer says that he hears the line "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" constantly, not just on the phone, but anywhere he goes, even when he met Prince Charles.

  6. Lionel Richie was accused of copying the song

    In 1984, the songwriter Marjorie White sued Lionel Richie, claiming that 'Hello' was based on her 1978 song, 'I'm Not Ready To Go'.

    However, he won the court case.