*The years have been kind to Lionel Richie.
With solo hits and classics from his days with the Commodores, the singer is more than equipped to embark on his “All the Hits All Night Long” tour, which kicks off this month.
In an interview with RollingStone.com, Richie discusses his international and stateside appeal as well as the endurance of the video to his hit song “Hello” and if a reunion with the Commodores is a real possibility.
I see you’ve been playing a lot of Commodores material.
I tried for years to say that I wouldn’t play much Commodores stuff. Then I realized any artist that wouldn’t play the old stuff was just shooting themselves in the head. People want to hear the whole package. In other words, if you’re lucky enough to start in a group and then go solo, people want to hear everything you’ve done. They want every part of your career.
It’s clear you have a bigger audience in Europe than in America. How did that happen?
For some weird and wonderful reason, Europe has this sort of reputation. It takes forever to get the Germans, but once you get them they never leave you. That’s true for France and many other countries over there. It’s also due to the fact that we just kept coming back. It’s the same with Japan and Australia. Those songs are a part of their lives, just like in America.
The only reason I stayed away from America is because rap came in so strong. That’s when I said, “OK, do we stay in America or do we solidify the rest of the world?” That’s why we spent so much time in Europe and Asia. America was going through a transition, so we had to make sure we were solid in the rest of the world. But thank God, now that I’m coming back to America, I’m finding out that the audiences never left. In fact, they want to see us now more than ever.
And they’re bringing their kids.
That’s right. We’re playing Bonnaroo this summer and we played ACL last year. There was a 19-year-old kid in the front row with an AC/DC shirt on. He was singing along to every word. I said, “Where did this guy come from?”
I feel like every time I turn on VH1 Classic there’s some different snarky show making fun of the video for “Hello.” Do you ever get tired of everyone making fun of that thing?
No. You’ve got to spoof it. Even I go back and look at it and go, “Really? Did I work on having hair like that?”
Have you ever thought about reforming the Commodores or maybe bringing them onto your tour as guests of some sort?
I’ve been testing the waters. Believe it or not, it can be hard to get five guys onstage. We lost Milan Williams, the keyboard player, to cancer. Over the years, I’ve experimented with guys. I said, “Let me just get three of them.” We’ve done a couple of shows together. But to get the other two, if I could pull that off, I will be the miracle worker of life. I’m not going to say no. I’m just gonna say, if it’s in the clouds it’s gonna happen.
For more of Lionel Richie’s interview with Rolling Stone, click here