Dancing on The Ceiling with Lionel Richie

By Carol Anne Szel

Today I saw a quick interview on television with Lionel Richie at an event he was involved with.  The third of only four questions this TV  ‘journalist’ asked was, “So what’s Nicole up to these days?” Really? You get four questions with iconic artist Lionel Richie at a music event and you ask him that?

He grinned and answered something to the effect that now he guesses he’s known as Nicole’s dad.

In fact, Lionel Richie provided a #1 hit each  year in the early 80s. Number one hits.   And as anyone who had even half an ear to the radio waves in the 80s knows, there were plenty more Richie hit singles in the top 10 as well.

This, mind you, after Lionel Richie’s huge success with The Commodore’s, selling more than 75 million albums there after being signed in 1972 by Motown Records and opening up for the Jackson 5 on tour.  “Easy” and “Three Times  A Lady” were only a prelude of what was to come for this prolific artist.

Yet in spite of  his 30 years in the music world, selling over 100 million albums to date,  an Oscar, Golden Globe, and five Grammy’s to his credit, much to his credit Richie has been a sort of gentle giant in the industry.  Not a lot of drama,  rag magazine headline stories, rehabs for one excuse or another as we’ve seen many times of late with other celebrities.  Lionel Richie has seemingly led a life of a musician who does what he does well.

Who doesn’t remember his 1984 song “Hello?”  The video in which we felt each moment in our hearts as the teacher silently fell in love with his art student.   Who, blind, had so known this man that she sculpted his face to every exact nuance.  We felt the love, we heard the words, we saw the story.

1981 saw Richie have his longest stretch with the #1 hit single “Endless Love,” a duet with Diana Ross, which remained at the top spot for 9 weeks.  Then there was the roster of his other #1’s with “Truly” in 1982, “All Night Long” in 1983, “Hello” in 1984, and “Say You Say Me” in 1985.   That same year, in fact, it was Lionel Richie who co-wrote the now legendary call-to-arms song “We Are The World,”  which among praise for his compassion, but also won him the Crystal Award for Humanitarianism.

Still very much in the music mix,  Richie released the album  “Just Go”  in 2009 which landed on the Billboard charts at #24.  Followed by a tour as well last year , Richie is still hot on the trail with his musical prowess.  And, if I was ever fortunate enough to get my four questions with Lionel Richie, it sure would not be about anything BUT his music.


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