Thursday Throwback – Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie is no stranger to fans of the old school. The Tuskegee University graduate rose to fame as the lead singer for the group The Commodores in the early 1970s.  Although songwriting credits for funk hits like “Brick House” and “Machine Gun” are attributed to the entire band, Richie found his niche writing ballads such as “Easy” and “Three Times A Lady”, and in 1980 he wrote the hit “Lady” for singer Kenny Rogers.  So it was no surprise that when Richie released his self-titled debut solo album, his first single “Truly” would top the charts.  His follow-up single “You Are” made it to number four.  It was his second album in 1983 that gave Richie superstar status.  Can’t Slow Down sold over 15 million copies worldwide, supported by the singles “All Night Long,” “Hello,” “Running With The Night,” “Penny Lover” and “Stuck On You,” the latter making it to number 24 on the Hot Country Singles chart. (The song “Love Will Find A Way” wasn’t a chart topper but it’s an album cut that definitely deserves an honorable mention.) Can’t Slow Down spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard charts, remained in the top 10 the entire year of 1984 and stayed in the top 200 for over three years.

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In 1985 the album earned two Grammy Awards and six American Music Awards.  (Anyone remember Richie’s signature line “Outrageous!” at the AMAs?)  During this time he also collaborated with Michael Jackson on the single “We Are The World.”  In 1986 he released the album Dancing On The Ceiling, which included the single of the same name and the ballad “Say You, Say Me.” These days, Richie continues to perform mostly overseas, is an avid breast cancer awareness activist and has a new album set for release in the spring entitled Tuskegee. The album features Richie performing his hits in collaboration with various country artists, among them, Willie Nelson, Shania Twain, and former Hootie and The Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker.

–Montrose Cunningham

Montrose Cunningham is an independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado residing in Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughter; sometimes both at the same time. Purchase his latest release “Inertia” at www.MontroseMusic.com and on visit him online at Facebook.

 



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