Lionel Richie (1949) American singer and song writer
In his youth, Lionel Richie (June 20, 1949) planned to be an Episcopal priest. But he started to write songs for a band called the Mystics and then had to sing them himself. The band was renamed the Commodores in 1969, which was signed by Motown three years later. At the record company, the near presence of fellow musicians Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson made a huge impression on young Lionel and his band. Their influence made him call it "the University of Motown".
Lionel Richie's sweet ballads earned the Commodores massive hits in the late seventies: Easy, Sail On, Still and of course Three Times A Lady (1978), their first number one in their home country, the US. The band became Motown's most successful act. From 1978 to 1986, Richie would write a number one hit each year. He got Kenny Rogers to top spot with Lady and got together with Diana Ross in a duet called Endless Love, the title track of the Brooke Shields movie.
He split from the Commodores in 1982 and produced his debut solo album under his own name. His second, Can't Slow Down, was more successful with well-known songs like All Night Long, Hello, Stuck on You and Penny Lover, selling over twenty million copies in the end.
Richie joined Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones to write and record the Live Aid theme We Are The World. USA for Africa earned a huge amount of money for famine relief in the poor continent. The former Commodore won a 1986 Academy Award for Best Original Song with Say You, Say Me, the White Nights theme song.
His third album called Dancing on the Ceiling hit the six million mark worldwide. During his World Tour, he was considered one of the biggest stars in pop at the time.
He had to take a break when he had problems with his voice, his wife and then on top of all, his father died. He remarried and got two children. Then he signed a new deal with Mercury/Universal in 1996, claiming: "time was a healing record". Louder Than Words and Time were his next two albums, not really appreciated by a large audience.
With his most recent album Renaissance, he, quite appropriately, tries to revive his career. A summer tour with Tina Turner and performances to over 100,000 people in London’s Hyde Park and 70,000 fans at Wembley Stadium earned him renewed credits.