After leaving the Commodores
, Lionel Richie became one of the most successful male solo artists of the '80s, arguably eclipsed during his 1981-1987 heyday only by Michael Jackson
. Richie dominated the pop charts during that period with an incredible run of 13 consecutive Top Ten hits, five of them number ones. As his popularity skyrocketed, Richie moved farther away from his R&B origins and concentrated more on adult contemporary balladry, which had been one of his strengths even as part of the Commodores
. After 1987, Richie fell silent, taking an extended break from recording and touring before beginning a comeback toward the tail end of the '90s.
Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr., was born on June 20, 1949, in Tuskegee, AL, and grew up on the campus of the Tuskegee Institute, where most of his family had worked for two generations prior. While attending college there, Richie joined the Commodores
, who went on to become the most successful act on the Motown label during the latter half of the '70s. Richie served as a saxophonist, sometime vocalist, and songwriter, penning ballads like "Easy," "Three Times a Lady," and "Still" (the latter two became the group's only number one pop hits). Although the Commodores
maintained a democratic band structure through most of their chart run, things began to change when the '70s became the '80s. In 1980, Richie wrote and produced country-pop singer Kenny Rogers