Lionel Richie Biography, Age, Early Life, Education, career, family, wife, Personal life, Filmography, Tours, Discography, Awards, honors, Net Worth & more

Lionel Richie Biography

Born on June 20, 1949, in the United States, Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. is a singer, songwriter, record producer, and television personality. He first gained notoriety in the 1970s as a songwriter and co-lead vocalist of the Motown group Commodores; before leaving the group, he co-wrote and recorded the smash singles “Easy,” “Sail On,” “Three Times a Lady,” and “Still.” He co-wrote and produced Kenny Rogers’ 1980 number-one single “Lady” for the US Billboard Hot 100.

Richie co-wrote and produced the duet “Endless Love” with Diana Ross in 1981; it remains one of the 20 all-time best-selling singles and was both artists’ biggest career smash. With the release of the album Lionel Richie in 1982, which sold over four million copies and produced the hits “You Are,” “My Love,” and the top-charting “Truly,” he formally began his solo career.

The number one singles “All Night Long (All Night)” and “Hello” were produced by Richie’s second album, Can’t Slow Down (1983), which peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 list and went on to sell over 20 million copies globally. The 1985 charity single “We Are the World,” which Michael Jackson and he co-wrote, went on to sell over 20 million copies. The number one song “Say You, Say Me” (from the 1985 movie White Nights) and the No. 2 smash title track came from his third album, Dancing on the Ceiling (1986).


Richie took a vacation from music from 1986 to 1996; he has subsequently put out seven studio albums. Beginning with its sixteenth season (2018 to the present), he joined American Idol to act as a judge.

Richie established himself as one of the most popular balladeers of the 1980s throughout his solo career. He has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, ranking him among the best-selling artists of all time. He has received four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year for “We Are the World” and “Can’t Slow Down,” respectively. “Endless Love” was nominated for an Academy Award, whilst “Say You, Say Me” took home the prize for Best Original Song at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.

The Johnny Mercer Award, the highest accolade bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, was given to Richie in 2016.He was given the American Music Awards Icon Award and the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by the Library of Congress in 2022. In 2022, he was also admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame.


Lionel Richie Early life

Richie was born on June 20, 1949, in Tuskegee, Alabama. He was the son of Alberta R. Foster (1917-2001), a teacher, and Lionel Brockman Richie (1915-1990), a U.S. Army systems analyst. Adelaide Mary Brown, his grandmother, was a classically trained pianist. He made an appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC on March 4, 2011, where viewers learned that his maternal great-grandfather served as the national president of a pioneering Black American fraternal organization. J. Louis Brown was notably:

Founder and Supreme Grand Archon of the Knights of Wise males, a fraternal group for black males in the years following the Civil War. It was founded in Nashville in 1879, and like many others at the time, it provided fraternal insurance and funeral benefits.

On the Tuskegee Institute campus, Richie grew up.[16] Booker T. Washington gave his grandparents the family house as a gift. He received his diploma from the East Campus of Joliet Township High School in Illinois. He obtained a tennis scholarship to study at Tuskegee Institute, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in economics with a minor in accounting. He was a top tennis player in Joliet.

Richie thought about going to divinity school to become a priest in the Episcopal Church, where he had been baptized, but ultimately determined he was not “priest material” and instead to pursue his musical career regardless of his lack of musical literacy. He belongs to the band members’ national honor society Kappa Kappa Psi and is an active life member of the fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha.

Lionel Richie Career

Midway through the 1960s, Richie founded a string of R&B bands while attending Tuskegee. He joined the Commodores as a saxophonist and singer in 1968. They first agreed to a one-record recording deal with Atlantic Records in 1968 before switching to Motown Records, initially as The Jackson 5’s opening act. The Commodores soon established themselves as a well-liked soul group. On their first few albums, songs like “Machine Gun” and “Brick House” featured a groovy, danceable feel. Richie began to write and perform more sultry, mellow ballads over time, including “Easy,” “Three Times a Lady,” “Still,” and the breakup song “Sail On.”

With “Happy People,” a song he co-wrote with Jeffrey Bowen and Donald Baldwin, Richie experienced his first significant commercial success as a songwriter in 1974. The Temptations recorded the song, which was originally meant to be a Commodores track and became their No. 1 R&B single. Richie started taking songwriting jobs from other musicians in the late 1970s. He collaborated on the song “Lady” with Kenny Rogers, which peaked at No. 1 in 1980. The following year, he produced Share Your Love, an album by Rogers. In later years, Richie and Rogers remained close friends.

La Palabra, a pioneer of salsa romantica and Latin jazz, had international fame with a cover of “Lady” that was performed in Latin dance venues. Also in 1981, Richie and Diana Ross performed the song that served as the movie Endless Love’s theme song. The song, which was released as a single, became one of Motown’s biggest hits and reached the top of the mainstream music charts in the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. Richie decided to launch a full-fledged solo career in 1982 as a result of its success. In 1983, Skyler Jett took his place as the Commodores’ lead singer.

Solo career

Richie’s 1982 debut solo album, Lionel Richie, had three top-charting singles: “Truly,” which peaked at number one in the United States and carried on the ballad-style of his work with the Commodores, as well as the top-five songs “You Are” and “My Love.” This established Richie’s career as one of the most popular balladeers of the 1980s. Over 4 million copies of the album were sold, and it peaked at No. 3 on the charts.

Can’t Slow Down, his 1983 follow-up album, sold over twice as many copies and earned him two Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, catapulting him into the top tier of global superstars. The album featured the smash single “All Night Long,” a dance song with Caribbean influences that was promoted by a vibrant music video directed by Michael Nesmith, a former Monkee. He sang “All Night Long” at the XXIII Olympic Games’ closing ceremony in Los Angeles in 1984.

More Top 10 successes followed, with “Hello” (1984), a romantic love song that demonstrated how far he had come from his R&B roots, becoming the most popular of them all. In addition to writing and producing “Missing You” for his former labelmate and duet partner Diana Ross (No. 10 Pop, No. 1 R&B), Richie scored three other top ten successes in 1984: “Stuck on You” (No. 3), “Running with the Night” (No. 7) and “Penny Lover” (No. 8). He composed “Say You, Say Me” and sang it for the 1985 movie White Nights.

According to Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 list, the song was the second most popular song of 1986, trailing only the charity single “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne and Friends. The song received an Academy Award and peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. charts, where it remained for four weeks. Additionally, he and Michael Jackson worked together on the number-one charity track “We Are the World” by USA for Africa.

The song was the second-most popular song of 1986, behind only the charity single “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne and Friends, according to Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 list. The song won an Academy Award and spent four weeks at the top of the U.S. charts, where it reached. The number-one charity song “We Are the World” by USA for Africa was also co-written by him and Michael Jackson.

Since then, his recording and live activities have been kept to a minimal due to his ever-more-lax schedule. With the release of Louder Than Words in 1996, he finally broke the quiet. On this album, he refused to adopt any new musical trends or depart from his well-crafted soul music, which has now come to be regarded as modern R&B.

Richie’s albums from the late 1990s, such as Louder Than Words and Time, fell short of his earlier work’s economic success. His more recent albums, including Renaissance and Just for You, which reverted to his more traditional sound, were successful in Europe but received just passing attention here.

Later career

A Fourth of July tribute event featuring Richie and Fantasia Barrino was held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006. Richie took the place of Antoine “Fats” Domino, who had been unwell, on the main stage (Acura Stage) of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 7, 2006. On September 12, 2006, Richie released his eighth studio album, “Coming Home.” The album’s lead track, “I Call It Love,” which debuted in July 2006 and went on to become his biggest hit in the United States in the previous 10 years. Richie’s record achieved popularity in the US, reaching No. 6 on the charts.

At UCLA’s annual Spring Sing on May 2, 2008, Richie became the 21st winner of the George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award. “Forget about surviving 30 or so years in the music business, Lionel Richie survived 27 years of Nicole Richie,” Richie said in accepting the honor.

Richie declared in May 2009 that he wanted The Commodores to reunite as soon as possible. In 2009, the album Just Go was made available. Richie sang “Jesus is Love” during Michael Jackson’s memorial service on July 7, 2009.

Richie visited Australia again in 2011 and performed live there as well as on a tour of New Zealand and Australia in the months of March and April. Richie and Guy Sebastian collaborated to record his number-one single “All Night Long” in 1983 in order to raise money for the relief efforts for the Australian floods and the New Zealand earthquake.

Richie’s ninth studio album, Tuskegee, which was released on March 26, 2012, included 13 of his hit songs done as duets with country musicians. His first number-one album on the Billboard 200 list since Dancing on the Ceiling, the album propelled him back to the top, and it was certified platinum within six weeks of its release.

Between 100,000 and 120,000 spectators watched Richie perform on June 28, 2015, at the Glastonbury Festival in England. A reissued compilation CD of his work as a solo performer and with the Commodores followed his “triumphant” performance, which the BBC dubbed. Richie’s participation as a judge on the new season of American Idol was revealed by ABC in September 2017. Richie served as a judge on the revival for four seasons and was slated to return in 2022 for his fifth.

During the 2017 Commencement Concert at Berklee College of Music in May 2017, graduating students gave a medley of Richie’s oeuvre as a tribute. Additionally, Richie received an honorary doctorate in music. Richie received the Kennedy Center Honors on December 3, 2017. Richie was said to have acquired the rights to make a Curtis Mayfield biopic in October 2017.

Richie revealed a 33-date summer tour of North America on March 25, 2019. His ‘Hello Tour’ began in May at the KAABOO Festival in Arlington and continued through August.

Richie received an invitation to perform as the main attraction at Windsor Castle’s Coronation Concert in May 2023 to commemorate Charles III and Camilla’s coronation. Richie serves as the Prince’s Trust’s first global ambassador and chairman of the global ambassador group.

Popularity in the Arab world

Richie is a well-known performer in several Arab nations, including Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Libya. According to a 2006 article by John Berman for ABC News, “Grown Iraqi men get misty-eyed at the mere mention of his name. They declare, “I love Lionel Richie.” They are capable of singing a full Lionel Richie song. According to Berman, Richie claimed that he was informed that Iraqi citizens were listening to “All Night Long” on the night before American tanks attacked Baghdad. Richie has expressed his desire to perform in Baghdad and his opposition to the war.

Lionel Richie Personal life

Richie wed Brenda Harvey, his college love, on October 18, 1975. The two-year-old Nicole Camille Escovedo (now Nicole Richie), who was the niece of the drummer Sheila E and a member of Lionel’s band, was adopted formally by the couple in 1983. Nicole was legally adopted by the Richies when she was nine years old and was nurtured as their daughter.

When Harvey discovered Richie at Diane Alexander’s Beverly Hills apartment in June 1988, she was detained and charged with violence, trespassing, resisting arrest, vandalism, trespassing, and disturbing the peace.[43] On August 9, 1993, Richie and Harvey divorced after over 18 years of marriage. On December 21, 1995, Richie tied the knot with Diane Alexander.Miles Brockman, a son, was born on May 27, 1994, and Sofia Richie, a daughter, was born on August 24, 1998. In 2004, the marriage was over.

Richie had persistent throat issues and underwent four surgeries in four years before traditional physicians warned him he would ruin his singing career. He then went to a holistic physician, who said that Richie’s pre-bedtime diet was merely to blame for his acid reflux.

When Nicole Richie became pregnant with a girl in 2008 while dating Good Charlotte lead singer Joel Madden, Richie became a grandfather. The couple had Richie’s second grandchild in 2009.

For the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Richie assisted in raising more than $3.1 million. Richie informed the audience that although his grandmother was given a breast cancer diagnosis when she was in her 80s, she overcame it and lived to be 103 years old. She served as his lifelong symbol of hope, according to him, and inspired him to become a breast cancer campaigner.

Lionel Richie Awards and honors

Richie has received four Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year for “We Are the World” in 1985, which he co-wrote with Michael Jackson, Album of the Year for “Can’t Slow Down” in 1984, Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) in 1984, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Truly” in 1982.

The first recipient of an RIAA diamond album award was Richie.

Richie has had two Golden Globe nominations and one Golden Globe victory. He was up for Best Original Song in 1982 for the movie Endless Love. For the song “Say You, Say Me,” which appeared in the movie White Nights, he was nominated for and eventually won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1986. The Academy Award for Best Original tune went to this tune as well.

Lionel Richie Tours


  • Running With the Night Tour (1984)
  • The Outrageous Tour (1986–1987)
  • In Concert (1998–2001)
  • The One World Tour (2004)
  • Coming Home Tour (2007)
  • Just Go Tour (2009)
  • Tuskegee Tour (2012)
  • All the Hits, All Night Long (2013–2016)
  • All the Hits Tour (with Mariah Carey) (2017)
  • Hello! Hits Tour (2019)
  • Sing a Song All Night Long Tour (with Earth, Wind & Fire) (2023)

Lionel Richie Discography

Solo albums

  • Lionel Richie (1982)
  • Can’t Slow Down (1983)
  • Dancing on the Ceiling (1986)
  • Louder Than Words (1996)
  • Time (1998)
  • Renaissance (2000)
  • Just for You (2004)
  • Coming Home (2006)
  • Just Go (2009)
  • Tuskegee (2012)

With Commodores

  • Machine Gun (1974)
  • Caught in the Act (1975)
  • Movin’ On (1975)
  • Hot on the Tracks (1976)
  • Commodores (1977)
  • Natural High (1978)
  • Midnight Magic (1979)
  • Heroes (1980)
  • In the Pocket (1981)

Lionel Richie Filmography


Year Title Role Notes
2007 The Simpsons Himself (voice) Episode “He Loves to Fly and He D’ohs”
2011 Who Do You Think You Are? Himself Episode: “Lionel Richie
2012 Sport Relief 2012 Barman Sketch: “Mo Farah and Misery Bear
2014 Oprah’s Master Class Himself Episode: “Lionel Richie
2018–present American Idol Himself Judge, Season 16–present
2019 American Housewife Himself Episode: “American Idol
2020 Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time Himself Episode: “Match 1
2022 Jeopardy! Himself Contestant; One episode


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Scott Joplin The Minstrel Singers Credited as The Commodores
1978 Thank God It’s Friday Himself with The Commodores
1991 Madonna: Truth or Dare Himself Documentary
1996 The Preacher’s Wife Britsloe
1998 Pariah Lavender Mob
2019 The Black Godfather Himself Documentary
2022 Studio 666 Himself

Who is Lionel Richie?

On June 20, 1949, Lionel Richie Jr. was born in Tuskegee, Alabama. On the Tuskegee Institute’s campus, he was raised. He excelled as a tennis player while he was a student at Illinois’ Joliet Township High School. He attended Tuskegee Institute on a tennis scholarship and earned a B.S. in economics there. In the middle of the 1960s, while attending Tuskegee, Richie created a number of R&B ensembles. Richie briefly studied at Auburn University for his masters degree.

Does Lionel Richie have a medical condition?

Your voice also defines you as an artist. One medical professional eventually identified the underlying problem, which was identified as diet-induced acid reflux, which was harming Lionel’s throat. When stomach acid flows back up towards the throat, the condition results in the heartburn sensation.

What nationality is Lionel Richie?

Over 100 million recordings have been sold by American singer-songwriter and record producer Lionel Brockman Richie. Richie was raised on the Tuskegee Institute campus after being born in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Does Lionel Richie have any biological children?

Famous artist Lionel Richie serves as a judge on “American Idol.” Sofia, Miles, and Nicole are his three kids. Elliot Grainge and his youngest daughter Sofia Richie are set to wed.

What happened to Lionel Richies voice?

Richie revealed his mysterious throat condition from the 1990s, which forced him to have four throat surgeries, in 2020.

Does Lionel Richie have two wives?

After nearly 18 years of marriage, Lionel and Harvey were divorced in 1993. In 1995, he wed Diane Alexander; however, they were divorced in 2003. He has been seeing Lisa Parigi, who is 40 years younger than the musical giant, for the past few years.

How much is Lionel worth?

The well-known American singer-songwriter “Lionel Richie” has a $220 million fortune.

Is Lionel Richie a Millionaire?

American singer-songwriter Lionel Richie has a $200 million fortune.

How many houses and cars does Lionel Richie have?

In 1999, Lionel invested $6 million in a magnificent 13,000-square-foot Beverly Hills house. The house has a view of the fourth-hole green at the illustrious Los Angeles Country Club. This home is currently worth between $40 and $60 million.

How much does Lionel Richie make per year?

According to reports, Richie makes roughly $18 million a year. During his first season as a judge on “American Idol” in 2019, he made $10 million.



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