Lionel Richie needs little introduction as he rolls into the Portsmouth Pavilion this week. As just a founding member of the Commodores alone, he is easily one of the most influential voices in Rhythm and Blues.
Add to that a solo career spanning almost four decades, containing the number one hit, “Hello,” plus seven top ten classics with three number one albums and over a hundred million records sold? You might think the man is ready to take it easy.
You’d be wrong: His latest effort, “Tuskegee,” broke onto the charts with a top ten showing.
Millennial fans might recognize him more as the father to his daughter, Nicole — but it seems Richie shows no signs of slowing down or fading from pop culture consciousness. Recent rumors have been swirling around meetings with American Idol over a spot at the judges’ table, and despite a recent injury involving a torn meniscus, the man bounced back with a world-wide tour that in most arenas has sold out easily.
Maybe you saw him recently on the James Corden show:
Or maybe you chuckled at the story about his sending six thousand muffins to Dave Grohl as he was recovering from a broken leg after missing the Glastonbury Festival a few years back.
Possibly, you could simply just be salivating at the thought of his upcoming work with Aretha Franklin. Regardless, at the age of 68, Lionel show no signs of slowing down.
For some, Richie is best known as as the lead voice of the Commodores. Formed in 1968 at Tuskegee University from student singing groups — the Mystics and the Jays — the supergroup went on to break into the limelight opening for the Jackson Five. Eventually they scored a never matched feat as the only Motown group to drop three consecutive number one albums with memorable singles like, “Machine Gun,” “Three Times a Lady,” “Turn off the Lights,” and “Nightshift.”
Lionel moved on from the band in the early eighties to become a fixture on RnB stations around the world, as well as a pioneering force for a young cable television station, known as MTV.
These days, Richie is enjoying an odd bit of a renaissance as a Middle East megastar. His fanbase crosses boundaries from Iran to Iraq, from Libya to Syria. Shi’ite or Suni? It doesn’t matter — they all love Lionel Richie.
Regardless of musical taste, you should take the time to hear this man sing this coming Thursday. His voice is still in fine form, if a bit weathered around the edges. If you stay home you’ll be missing the kind of legend the industry is incapable of producing these days. If you stay home, you’ll be missing out on the chance to dance “all night long.”
Lionel Richie plays Portsmouth on Thursday, June 29, 2017. For more on this show, or to buy tickets, click here.
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For the full schedule of Portsmouth Pavilion concerts, click here.