Richie got his start in the Commodores, writing most of their hits in the late 1970s, including "Three Times a Lady" and "Still". By 1980 , though, the media had begun to focus on Richie and he left to embark on a solo career the next year. That year his duet with Diana Ross "Endless Love" from the film of the same name spent ten weeks atop Billboard's pop chart.
Lionel Richie (1982) was an instant success and became one of the top-selling albums of the year. Can't Slow Down was even more successful, and established Richie's reputation as a superstar.
Weeks prior to the end of the 1984 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles promoters announced that the closing ceremonies would feature a surprise guest. Many speculated that it would be Michael Jackson. The secret was kept right up until the climax of the ceremonies, when the spotlight hit Richie. He performed "All Night Long" to a live television audience of 2.3 billion viewers.
In 1985, Richie worked with Michael Jackson on "We Are the World", recorded as part of USA for Africa. His next big success was in 1986, with Dancing on the Ceiling. Compared to the previous two efforts, Dancing on the Ceiling didn't sell as well and Richie was retired one year later.
In 1996, Richie returned to recording with the moderately successful Louder Than Words. 2000's Renaissance sold well in Europe and was released in the United States in 2001.