He released his self-titled debut in 1982. The album hit #3 on the music charts and sold over 4 million copies. His 1983 follow up album, Can't Slow Down, sold over twice as many copies and won two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year – propelling him into the first rank of international superstars. The album spawned the #1 hit "All Night Long", a Caribbean-flavored dance number that was promoted by a colorful music video produced by former Monkee, Michael Nesmith.
Several more Top 10 hits followed, the most successful of which was the ballad "Hello" (1984), a sentimental love song that showed how far Richie had moved from his R&B roots. Now described by one critic as 'the black Barry Manilow', in 1985 Richie wrote and performed a suitably soothing theme song, "Say You, Say Me", for the film White Nights, winning an Oscar for his efforts. He also collaborated with Michael Jackson on the charity single "We Are the World" by USA for Africa.
In 1986, Richie released Dancing on the Ceiling, his last widely popular album, which produced a run of US and UK hits including "Say You, Say Me", "Dancing on the Ceiling," and "Se La". The title selection, which revived the lively dance sound of "All Night Long(All Night)," was accompanied by another striking video, a feature that played an increasingly important role in Richie's solo career. The critical consensus was that this album represented nothing more than a consolidation of his previous work, though Richie's collaboration with the country group Alabama on "Deep River Woman" did break new ground. By 1987, Richie was exhausted from his work schedule and after a controversial year laid low taking care for his father in Alabama. His father, Lionel Sr., died in 1990. He made his return to recording and performing following the release of his first greatest-hits collection, Back to Front, in 1992.
Since then, his ever-more relaxed schedule has kept his recording and live work to a minimum. He broke the silence in...