The legendary singer and multi-talent Lionel Richie is about to tour Germany, the United Kingdom, Israel and millions of other countries. One thing is certain: He will mesmerize tens of thousands of die-hard fans.
Lionel Richie is the guy who raises funds for the fight against breast cancer, he cooperates with Prince Charles on other charities and he fills halls more than fifty years after beginning his music career. He used to be a tennis crack too, and he is an economist. In order to describe the multi-talent, two words will suffice: Lionel Richie.
‘Machine Gun’ on Soul Train
But, as usual, the story starts at the beginning. In the mid-1960s, many of us were not born or even conceived. But one man was already busy founding Soul bands after deciding he was not the right guy to become a priest. In 1968, even before the late Maurice White founded Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores were born, thanks to Lionel Richie.
The latter band name does not only stand for a lot of success, but also for sophisticated Funk tunes like ‘Machine Gun’ or hits that would fill any dance floor at any location in the world immediately, including ‘Brick House’. In 1974, The Commodores followed an invitation from the late Donald Cortez Cornelius to make people dance on his Soul Train show. And they did.
A saxophone player, singer and composer by the name of Lionel Richie can be seen playing the keyboard on the video recorded that night. He has hardly changed since that day, even though he is 70 years old by now. Yes, it is safe to say that Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. is a Funk hero. But yet another gift would become evident a few years later.
Path to Success
There he was, in 1977, in the center of the stage and accompanied by the rest of The Commodores, singing ‘Easy’, a wonderful Soul ballad. At that time, Lionel Richie turned out to be just the right man for songs of this kind. The fact that he loved doing what he was doing at that moment could be seen and felt. He had found his calling, and the path to even more success.
It happened in 1982. None other than Lionel Richie released his self-titled, first solo album. It contained ‘Truly’ and other convincing Soul and Pop ballads. Just a year later, ‘Can’t Slow Down’, the second album hit the record stores and radio station playlists. Hardly any Black American artist, maybe with the exception of Whitney Houston or Sade, was played on Pop stations as much as he was.
‘Love Will Find a Way’, a song he wrote in cooperation with Greg Phillinganes, is one of the most brilliant ones from the 1983 album. Another would be the Funk hit ‘All Night Long’. “Well, my friends, the time has come” for a tiny side-story connected to this tune. Just a few months back, in late 2019, Jacob Collier, a young genius multi-instrumentalist, delivered a stunning cover version of ‘All Night Long’ in cooperation with the a-cappella group Take Six. That interpretation included strings, Brazilian rhythms and a gazillion other surprises. But let’s not get carried away too much on this one.
Warning: The word ‘Grammy’ is about to be used in this paragraph. The only problem ‘Can’t Slow Down’ posed was explained in its title. Because Lionel Richie really could not slow down, he blocked himself at the Grammy Awards. In 1983, when this album came out, he was still being honored for the last one. ‘Truly’ got him his first actual Grammy.
Two years later, in 1984, it was finally time for ‘Can’t Slow Down’. ‘All Night Long’ was nominated for a Grammy. So were the three producers, namely James Carmichael, David Foster and Lionel Richie. In order to make sure they would get that Grammy, they actually repeated the same nomination in 1985, when Richie also received the Grammy for ‘Album of the Year’.
Besides, ‘Hello’, a rather cheesy tune which satisfied Lionel Richie’s Pop fans a whole lot more than his Soul fans, was nominated in 1985. In total, Richie was nominated for Grammys 15 times. He got four of those awards. The fourth one was given to him for ‘We Are the World’, a charity song he co-wrote with Michael Jackson. The single produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian sold 20 million times.
Coming to Europe
Let’s not even mention the BET Awards, that Billboard Music Award he got, those American Music Awards, the Golden Globe and the Academy Award he got for ‘Say You, Say Me’, another cheesy one, which was part of the 1986 motion picture ‘White Nights’. The latter featured the late tap dance master Gregory Hines and the Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.
It gets even better: He is coming. No, not Godot and not Baryshnikov, but Lionel Richie. Let’s stay focused here. Yes, he is coming to Europe. But first, on March 2nd, 2020, he and his rather large entourage will hit a stage in Tel Aviv. Richie ignored the usual bullying he probably got from Roger Waters, his so-called BDS movement and a group called Code Pink, as The Jerusalem Post reported. Out of all countries on the planet, they hate the only one that is predominantly Jewish. Lionel Richie seems to know that there is a word for that condition which starts with an ‘A’. He would not be intimidated by those haters.
His European tour commences on June 4th in Wrexham (U.K.). From there, Richie will head to Dublin, Belfast, Scarbrough, Newport, London, Cornwall, Woodstock (no, the one in Oxfordshire) and York. Once his stage hands have packed it all together, Lionel Richie and his band will be crossing the channel to mainland Europe.
‘Hello’ in Berlin
In Germany, Wiesbaden is first, on June 24th, 2020. A gig in Bonn is scheduled for June 26th, Munich will happen on July 7th, Halle on July 18th, a city called Berlin on July 19th and Ludwigsburg, located close to Stuttgart, on August 4th. In between, Richie will hit Helsinborg and Rättvik (both Sweden), Kongsberg (Norway), Lancashire (UK), the Montreux Festival in Switzerland, Weert (The Netherlands), Locarno (Switzerland), Antibes (Oui, c’est la France) and Lisbon.
The good news is that there are even more Lionel Richie concerts. The man will be busy in Marbella, Palma, Lokeren (Belgium), Cardiff and even in Skanderborg, located somewhere in Denmark. But when a country is as small as a stamp, no location can be far from any other one, right?
Main photo by Matthias Mühlbradt
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