Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. (born June 20, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and occasional actor who has sold over 100 million records.

Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Richie grew up on the campus of Tuskegee Institute. His grandfather's house was across the street from the home of the president of the Institute. His family moved to Illinois where he graduated from Joliet Township High School, East Campus, in Joliet. A star tennis player in Joliet, he accepted a tennis scholarship back at Tuskegee Institute and later graduated with a major in economics.

Back as a student in Tuskegee, he formed a succession of R&B groups in the mid-1960s. In 1968 he became the lead singer and saxophonist with the Commodores. They signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1968 for one record before moving on to Motown Records, being schooled as support act to the Jackson Five. The Commodores became established as a popular soul group. Their first several albums had a danceable, funky sound (with such tracks as "Machine Gun" and "Brick House"). Over time, Richie wrote and sang more romantic, easy-listening ballads such as "Easy", "Three Times A Lady" and "Still".

By the late 1970s he had begun to accept songwriting commissions from other artists. He composed "Lady" for his friend Kenny Rogers which hit #1 in 1980, and he produced Rogers' Share Your Love album the following year. Also in 1981, Richie sang a duet with Diana Ross in the theme song for the film Endless Love. Issued as a single, the song topped the UK and U.S. pop music charts, and it became one of Motown's biggest hits. Its success encouraged Richie to branch out into a full-fledged solo career in 1982. His debut album, Lionel Richie, produced another chart-topping single, " Truly", which continued the style of his ballads with the Commodores. He released his self-titled debut in 1982. The album hit #3 on the music charts and sold over 4 million copies. His 1983 follow up album, Can't Slow Down, sold over twice as many copies and won the Grammy Award for the Album of the Year in 1984. His third album, Dancing on the Ceiling, which was released in 1986, spawned such hits as "Say You, Say Me", "Dancing on the Ceiling," and "Se La", but it also signified the end of his large commercial success. His albums in the 1990s such as Louder Than Words and Time all failed to achieve the previous decade's commercial success. Some of his recent work such as the album Renaissance has returned to his older style, achieving success in Europe, but only modest notice in the United States. In 1983, he released Can't Slow Down, which shot him into the first rank of international superstars. The album also won two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year. It spawned the #1 hit "All Night Long", a Caribbean-flavored dance number that was promoted by a dazzling music video produced by former Monkee, Michael Nesmith. Several more Top 10 hits followed, the most successful of which was the ballad "Hello" (1984), a sentimental love song that showed how far Richie had moved from his R&B roots. Now described by one critic as 'the black Barry Manilow', In 1985 Richie wrote and performed a suitably soothing theme song, "Say You, Say Me", for the film White Nights, winning an Oscar for his efforts. He also collaborated with Michael Jackson on the charity single "We Are the World" by USA for Africa.

In 1986, Richie released Dancing on the Ceiling, another widely popular album that produced a run of US and UK hits. The title selection, which revived the lively dance sound of "All Night Long(All Night)," was accompanied by another striking video, a feature that played an increasingly important role in Richie's solo career. The critical consensus was that this album represented nothing more than a consolidation of his previous work, though Richie's collaboration with the country group Alabama on "Deep River Woman" did break new ground. Since then, his ever-more relaxed schedule has kept his recording and live work to a minimum. He broke the silence in 1996 with Louder Than Words, on which he resisted any change of style or the musical fashion-hopping of the past decade. Instead, he stayed with his chosen path of well-crafted soul music, which in the intervening years has become known as Contemporary R&B. The albums Time (1998), Renaissance (2000), and Just for You (2004) failed to duplicate his prior success in the US and were considered sales disappointments. However, "Renaissance" and "Just For You" both reached the Top 10 in the UK, producing a total of six Top 40 singles in that country. In 2002, Richie's song "Running With the Night" was featured on the Rockstar North video game "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" though the song was removed from later versions of the game. In 2004, he appeared on Canadian Idol as his songs were featured during a Canadian Idol week. In November 2005, Lionel Richie performed with Kenny Rogers on a CMT Crossroads special. The show gave an informative insight into their friendship both in and out of the music world. Richie was also the headliner at a 2000 Fourth of July tribute concert with Fantasia Barrino at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Richie released his eighth studio album entitled " Coming Home" on September 12, 2006. The first single of the album was "I Call It Love" and was premiered in July 2006, becoming his biggest hit in the U.S. in ten years. The album was an incredible success for Richie in the United States, peaking at #6. His adopted daughter Nicole Richie stars in the music video for this track. On December 9, 2006, Richie hosted and performed live on the British television show An Audience with Lionel Richie. During the trip there occurred a memorable incident instituted by the keyboardist and notorious prankster from the Inspiral Carpets, Clint Boon. At a taping of Top of the Pops in London, Boon tied the knocker on Richie's dressing room door to that of the next dressing room with length of string. The next dressing room was occupied by the temperamental Mariah Carey. When one door was closed, the other door knocked. This anonymous game of Knock-A-Door-And-Run went on for 5 minutes, before a frustrated Carey stormed out of her room at the nearest noise. Finding Richie there in his dressing gown, she then threw a whole tub of face cream over him, all the while screaming abuse at his 'supposed' childish antics. Richie, unable to clean the cream from his hair, then played the show with a throw-back 80's style gel haircut. On February 11, 2007, Richie performed his 80s hit song "Hello" on the televised Grammy Awards show. On November 25, 2007, he made a surprise appearance on the Australian Idol grand final performing "All Night Long" at the Sydney Opera House.

In recent years, Richie has become a phenomenon in various Arab states and has performed in Morocco, Dubai, Qatar and even Libya which has until recently shut out Western influences.

Family and personal life

Richie married college sweetheart Brenda Harvey on Oct. 18 1975. During their marriage, Lionel began a relationship with Diane Alexander in 1986. In 1988, while separated, Brenda allegedly discovered Lionel and Alexander together in a Beverly Hills apartment. A confrontation ensued, and Brenda was then arrested for spousal abuse, trespassing and vandalism. Lionel and Brenda divorced in August 9, 1993; they had been married 17 years.
In 1983, Lionel and wife Brenda informally adopted the 2-year-old daughter of people associated with Lionel's band. They raised Nicole Richie as their daughter. Around 1990 Lionel and Brenda went through the legal formalities of adopting Nicole.
Lionel and Diana Alexander had a son, Myles Brockman, May 27, 1994. Lionel married Alexander in December 21, 1995. Their daughter Sofia was born 26 August 1998. Lionel and Alexander divorced in January 2004.

Richie helped to raise over $3.1 million for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. He was the featured performer at the Foundation's Soirée Bouquet, the annual spring gala. Richie told the crowd that his grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 80s, but survived until she was 104 years old. He stated that she was his enduring symbol of hope and his reason for becoming a breast cancer activist.

Complete and updated biography for Richie, Lionel