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Published:June 26th, 2009 19:30 EST
Lionel Richie's Career Has Spanned More Than Four Decades

Lionel Richie's Career Has Spanned More Than Four Decades

By Garrett Godwin

Last weekend marked the 60th birthday of Lionel Richie, whose career has spanned more than four decades.

Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, he studied piano and classical music, and went to the Tuskegee Institute, where Lionel hooked up with future members of the Commodores.  In the mid-1970s, they became one of the biggest super groups in R&B and funk with signature songs like "Brick House".  But it was the romantic ballads like "Sweet Love", "Easy", "Three Times a Lady", and, "Sail On", and "Still" that gave the Commodores a mainstream audience.  However, due to the love songs composed and written by Lionel, there was more attention on him than on the band. 

Richie went on to write "Lady" for country music icon Kenny Rogers, which became a #1 pop, country, and R&B hit in 1980.  The next year, he sung the title theme to the movie Endless Love, a duet with Diana Ross, also a #1 single.  That same year, in 1981, Lionel left the Commodores to pursue a solo career. 

His self-titled album in 1982 featured another #1 ballad, "Truly", and the Top 5 hit "You Are".  His next album, 1983`s Can`t Slow Down, made him an international superstar.  It went to #1, spawning several Top 10 classics such as "All Night Love" and "Hello" (#1), "Running with the Night", and "Penny Lover".  1986`s Dancing on the Ceiling was another #1 album with the Oscar-winning "Say You, Say Me" from White Nights

From 1977-86, Lionel Richie had nine songs that went to #1 for nine straight years.

However, both Lionel`s personal and professional life begin to collide and slowed down in the late 80s and early 90s.  News of spousal abuse and infidelity during his first marriage to Brenda Richie broke (they divorced in 1993); the death of his father, and being unable to sing.  In 1995, he married Diane Alexander, and they have two children: son Miles and daughter Sofia, now 15 and 11.  The couple split in 2004. 

He began making an comeback with 1992`s Back to Front, which contain his greatest hits with three new tracks; it went platinum.  Though his recent albums such as 2006`s Coming Home has earned an lukewarm response in America, Lionel is still popular all over the world. 

His daughter Nicole has become a star in her own right thanks to the reality show, The Simple Life.  After enduring legal and drug troubles, she bounced back personally when she and Good Charlotte front man Joel Madden became parents to daughter Harlow Winter Kate Richie Madden in January 2008; the couple is awaiting the birth of their second child.

Lionel`s new album, Just Go, is in stores now, and you can catch Lionel on ABC`s One Life to Live.

Lionel Richie is one of the most contemporary and prolific voices in pop, R&B, and soul that known how to write a song.  One of the most soulful, romantic artists of all time, he knows how to write a song, but importantly, he knows how to write music.  It doesn`t matter how old you are; the music of Lionel Richie has timeless appeal and will stay with you forever.