Lionel Richie Biography

Lionel Richie, a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor, has captivated audiences around the world with his honeyed tones and soulful music. From his early days with the ‘Commodores’ to his highly successful solo career, Richie has become one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century. With iconic songs like ‘Hello’ and ‘Truly’, he has achieved ‘evergreen’ status and sold nearly 100 million records worldwide. In addition to his musical achievements, Richie has also made appearances in films and documentaries, showcasing his versatility as an artist. Collaborating with renowned musicians and singers, he has left an indelible mark on the music industry.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Lionel Brockman Richie Jr.
  • Age: 74 Years, 74 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Brenda Harvey-Richie, Diana Alexander Richie
    • Father: Lionel Richie Sr.
    • Mother: Alberta
    • Children: Miles Brockman Richie, Nicole Richie, Sofia Richie
  • Born Country: United States
  • Height: 5’11” (180 cm), 5’11” Males
  • Ancestry: British American
  • Notable Alumni: Tuskegee University
  • U.S. State: Alabama, African-American From Alabama
  • Education: Auburn University, Tuskegee University

Childhood & Early Life

Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. was born to Alberta R. (Foster) and Lionel Brockman Richie in Tuskegee, Alabama. He studied at Joliet Township High School and was a very good tennis player during school. He was then offered a tennis scholarship to study at the Tuskegee Institute, which he accepted. He majored in Economics and graduated from the university. When he was a student at the university, he took an interest in a number of upcoming R&B groups in the 1960s. Post completing his graduation degree, he attended Auburn University for a brief period of time.


In 1968, he was signed on as a singer and saxophonist with the ‘Commodores’. The same year, he signed a record contract with Atlantic Records for one record and then moved on to Motown Records. In 1974, the band ‘Commodores’ released their debut studio album, ‘Machine Gun’, which was an album of funk music. Three years later, they released the self-titled album, ‘Commodores’, which became extremely popular and is listed as one of their top 5 albums to date.

He sang the theme song for the film, ‘Endless Love’ along with Diana Ross in 1981. The song went on to become a huge hit in the UK, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. It is also considered one of Motown Records’ greatest hits.

He began his solo career in 1982 with a self-titled album. One of the singles from the album, ‘Truly’ peaked at the No. 1 position on the music charts in the US. He released his next solo venture, ‘Can’t Slow Down’ in 1983, under the label of Motown Records. The album sold twice as much as his first album and also went on to win a couple of Grammy Awards.

The next year, Lionel Richie was seen performing ‘All Night Long’, one of his greatest singles at the closing ceremony of the Olympics Games in Los Angeles. Through 1984, he had a string of hit singles including, ‘Stuck on You’, ‘Running with the Night’, ‘Penny Lover’ and ‘Hello’. The next year, he wrote and performed a song titled ‘Say You, Say Me’ for the film, ‘White Nights’, for which he won an Academy Award.

In 1985, he collaborated with superstar Michael Jackson for the charity single hit, ‘We Are the World’. The next year, he released one of his most successful albums yet, ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’, which produced a range of hits including ‘Ballerina Girl’, ‘Se La’ and ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’. He went on a hiatus for a few years only to return with his greatest-hits collection, ‘Back to Front’, in 1992. Four years later, he released his fourth studio album, ‘Louder Than Words’, which had disappointing sales.

‘Time’, his fifth studio album, released in 1998, also failed to make it big and had very low sales compared to his previous ventures. From 2002 to 2005, Richie’s song ‘Running with the Night’ was featured in the video game, ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’. During this time, he was also seen in the British series, ‘Top Gear’ and on a ‘CMT Crossroads’ episode.

In 2006, he performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and also released his studio album, ‘Coming Home’. The album went on to become one of the biggest hits of the decade. The same year, he hosted and performed in the series, ‘An Audience with Lionel Richie’. From 2007 to 2009, he was seen on ‘Australian Idol’, performed at Times Square for the New Year’s Eve celebration, and also went on to release the album, ‘Just Go’. In 2009, he was seen performing at Michael Jackson’s memorial service.

In 2010, he performed at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington DC and he also performed at the AFL Grand Final Replay. Two years later, he released his tenth studio album, ‘Tuskegee’, which also features the hit singles of other recording artists. In 2013, he announced the launch of the ‘All the Nights All Night Long’ tour, on ‘The Today Show’ on NBC. The following year, he appeared in the Episode: “Lionel Richie” of the primetime television program ‘Oprah’s Master Class.’ In 2018, he joined the singing competition television series ‘American Idol’ as a judge. He also appeared in television shows like ‘American Housewife,’ ‘Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time,’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ He starred in the 2022 American horror comedy film ‘Studio 666’ directed by BJ McDonnell. The film received a mixed response from critics and earned a 56% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes. The following year, he was invited to perform the headlining act for the Coronation Concert to celebrate the Coronation of Charles III and Camilla.

Major Works

‘Commodores’, the self-titled album released in 1977 with his group, the ‘Commodores’ spent a total of eight weeks on popular music charts and is also listed as one of the Top 5 albums of the band. The album features the popular sex anthem, ‘Brick House’, which peaked at the no. 5 position on the US R&B chart and helped catapult the band into the R&B spotlight.

His solo venture, ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’, which was released in 1986, is considered one of the most successful solo ventures of his till date. It was featured at the no.1 position on the Billboard Hot 200 and sold nearly 4 million copies. Following the release of this album, he withdrew from the music industry for nearly 6 years, returning with another super hit album, ‘Back to Front’.

Awards & Achievements

In 1985, he won a Grammy Award for ‘Can’t Slow Down’ under the category, ‘Album of the Year’. He also won another Grammy Award for ‘Song of the Year’. He was inducted into the ‘Songwriters Hall of Fame’, in 1994. He won the George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2008. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Personal Life & Legacy

He married Brenda Harvey on October 18, 1975. While he was still married to her, he began an affair with Diane Alexander. He separated from Harvey after she found out about his misdeeds and thereafter she brutally attacked him and Alexander. While he was still married to Harvey, the couple adopted Nicole Richie when she was 9 years old. He officially married Diane Alexander on December 21, 1995. The couple has a son, Miles Brockman, and a daughter, Sofia. The couple divorced in 2004. He is an avid breast cancer activist with the ‘Breast Cancer Research Foundation’ for which he raised nearly $3.1 million.


This famous American singer-songwriter’s music is hugely popular in the Middle East. His song, ‘All Night Long’ was played on the night of the American invasion in 2003 by the Iraqis. He is the first First Global Ambassador and First Chairman of the Prince’s Trust. He is a Freemason.

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