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Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer. Beginning in 1968, he was a member of the funk and soul band, the Commodores, before launching a solo career in 1982. He also co-wrote the 1985 charity single, “We Are the World” with Michael Jackson, which sold over 20 million copies. Richie has sold over 90 million records worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time.
Lionel Richie was born and raised in Tuskegee, Alabama. He is the son of Lionel Brockman Sr. and Alberta R. Foster. Richie attended Joliet Township High School’s East Campus, where he was a star tennis player. After graduating, he accepted a tennis scholarship to attend Tuskegee Institute, a historically black University. There, he began obtaining more of an interest in music and became a member Kappa Kappa Psi, a national honor fraternity for band members, and Alpha Phi Alpha. However, he dropped out after his sophomore year and considered studying divinity to become a priest at the Episcopal Church. Ultimately, Lionel Richie decided to pursue music.
As a student at Tuskegee, Lionel Richie formed a succession of R&B groups in the mid-1960s before he became a singer and saxophonist with the Commodores. They signed with Atlantic Records in 1968, and became established as a popular soul group. By the late 1970s, Richie had begun to accept songwriting commissions from other artists such as “Lady” for Kenny Rodgers, which was a number one hit in 1980. His initial success with the Commodores and his independent work is what helped pave the way for Lionel Richie to begin a successful solo career.
Lionel Richie (1982) - As a debut album, Lionel Richie was a major success both critically and commercially. The album included the hit singles “Truly”, “You Are”, and “My Love”, which peaked at number one, four, and five on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively. At its peak, the album reached the number one spot on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and number three on the Billboard 200. Additionally, the album went certified platinum four times in both the United States and Canada.
Can’t Slow Down (1983) - The second album from Lionel Richie included a delicate combination of R&B, pop, and dance music. The album included five singles that all reached the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. The songs “All Night Long (All Night)” and “Hello” were the two most popular songs, and both hit the number one spot. At its peak, the album reached number one on both Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and the Billboard 200. Additionally, Can’t Slow Down achieved certified diamond status by the RIAA, and even won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1985.
Dancing on the Ceiling (1986) - The album was released to mostly positive reviews and great sales, peaking at number one on the Billboard 200. The release of Dancing on the Ceiling also marks the beginning of a ten-year hiatus for Lionel Richie, where he did not release albums with new music. The album went certified platinum four times by the RIAA in the United States, and three times platinum by Music Canada.
Louder than Words (1996) - Louder than Words features R&B tracks that Richie is best known for, with the addition of new jack swing. However, the album did not do nearly as well commercially as his previous works: Louder than Words debuted at number 33 on the Billboard 200, and only peaked at number 28.
Time (1998) - This album marks the fifth studio album released by Lionel Richie via Mercury Records, which made its debut on June 23, 1998. The album was a complete commercial disappointment, and sold far fewer copes than any of his previous works.
Renaissance (2000) - The album, which featured a combination of pop, dance-pop, and R&B did a bit better than his previous two albums, which were commercial disappointments. At its peak, though, Renaissance only hit the number 62 spot on the Billboard 200, but did much better internationally, hitting top ten positions in countries such as Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, the album went certified platinum in both Germany and the United Kingdom.
Just for You (2004) The album features Richie in collaboration with singers and musicians from different backgrounds, such as Lenny Kravitz and Daniel Bedingfield. The album received decent reviews, and was often cited for its well-crafted and consistent sound quality, but still not as strong as Richie’s other works. At its peak, the album only reached number 47 on the Billboard 200, but received top 10 positions in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, where it also received gold certification by the BPI.
Coming Home (2006) - This album debuted at number six on the Billboard 200, making it his biggest hit album since 1986’s Dancing on the Ceiling. Much praise from critics came from Richie’s decision to create the album closer to his classic R&B roots. The song “I Call It Love” was the most popular song, and the music video even featured Richie’s daughter. Besides it debuts at number six on the Billboard 200, Coming Home also peaked a number three on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and went certified gold in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Just Go (2009) - Features on the album included Phillip “Taj” Jackson on “Forever”, “Through My Eyes”, and “Thinking of You”, Akon on “Just Go”, The-Dream on “I’m Not Okay” and Ne-Yo on “I’m in Love”. At its peak, Just Go reached the number 24 spot on the Billboard 200, the number nine spot on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and obtained silver certification in the United Kingdom.
Tuskegee (2012)The album consists of entirely reinterpretations of previously released songs by Richie, each performed with a different guest artist, including: Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Jennifer Nettles, Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, Billy Currington, Kenny Rodgers, Willie Nelson, and Jimmy Buffet. Commerically and critically, the album was an unexpected hit, and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, and eventually peaked at the number one position.
The single “Endless Love” featuring Shania Twain was the fan favorited song on the album. Unlike Richie’s previous albums, Tuskegee has a much deeper connection to country music, while also incorporating Richie’s well-known R&B vibes. Additionally, the album peaked at number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums and went certified platinum in the United States and Canada.
Although Lionel Richie is not currently on tour, he is set to begin an extensive series of shows at Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater in Las Vegas, NV. Beginning on August 15, Lionel Richie will be performing multiple times per week until October 20. Be sure to grab tickets before they sell out!
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