Lionel Richie is happy we care again.
After a superstar run during the 70s with the Commodores and in the 80s as a solo artist -- racking up sales of more than 100 million albums worldwide and 13 straight Top 10 singles in the U.S. -- he went through a comparatively fallow period until 2012's "Tuskegee," a set of his biggest hits re-recorded with country artists, returned him to the top of the chart. He's certainly happy about that, but he promises that he was never despairing over his fortunes, wither.
"Y'know, inside of America, we are as hot as your last hit record, but outside of America, it never stopped," says the Alabama-born Richie, 64, who is, not surprisingly, planning a sequel to "Tuskegee," with Luke Bryan and Keith Urban already lined up. "If anything, it got bigger. We were doing three nights, four nights at Wembley (Arena in London) at the height of 'Dancing on the Ceiling.' Now we're still doing four, five nights at Wembley Arena more than 20 years later.
"So it never stops over there, whereas now, bringing it back to America is what is special. To get America again is, like, 'Hallelujah!' It's really special to me. It's great to not have to go so far away from home to get that great reaction again."
One of Richie's homes, of course, was Motown, which signed the Commodores in 1974 and released Richie's first three solo albums, all of which were multi-platinum. And that's an association he still wears proudly.
"It was absolutely amazing," Richie recalls. "You have to understand I started out as a fan, so to end up as a part of that story is just amazing. There are so many memories and I met so many of my heroes along the way. I'll always have that, no matter what else happens in my life."
Lionel Richie and Cee-Lo Green perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 20, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $49.50-$125 pavilion, $25 lawn with $75 lawn four-packs available. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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