Lionel Richie has been part of the music business for over 50 years and shows little sign of slowing down anytime soon. The singer-songwriter, known for musical hits such as “Truly,” “Hello,” and “We Are The World,” started as a founding member of the R&B group The Commodores in 1968.
Richie has penned many hit songs throughout his career and has been a lead singer for the Commodores in addition to his solo musical career. After earning millions through his albums and song royalties, Richie is entering his fifth season as an American Idol judge, for which he earns a reported $10 million per season. He's worth approximately $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Lionel Richie’s music career
The 72-year-old icon started testing his chops as a musician with the Commodores. The group formed from students at Tuskegee University in Alabama enjoyed such hits as “Easy,” “Three Times A Lady,” and “Brick House” throughout its successful run.
Before launching a solo career, Richie also wrote songs for other musicians to perform. These included “Lady,” which was a number-one hit for Kenny Rogers in 1980. His 1981 duet with Diana Ross “Endless Love” for the movie of the same name brought the accolade of an Academy Award nomination.
Richie’s self-titled solo debut album was released in 1982 to great success. “Truly,” You Are,” and “My Love” were some of the top tracks from that first album. From there, Richie made several more solo albums.
Some of Richie’s notable awards and accomplishments include:
1983 Grammy for Best Pop Male Vocal Performance: “Truly”
1985 Grammy for Album of the Year: Can’t Slow Down
1985 American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist and Pop/Rock Video
1986 Grammy for Song of the Year: “We Are The World” (his charity single with Michael Jackson)
- 1986 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song: “Say You, Say Me”
- 1989 NAACP Image Award for Entertainer of the Year
- 2014 BET Lifetime Achievement Award
- Numerous nominations for other music awards
Lionel Richie as an American Idol judge
Richie has been a regular judge on the long-running singing competition show American Idol since 2019. In August 2021, the network confirmed that Richie, along with judges Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, would return this year for the show’s 20th season. Host Ryan Seacrest will also grace the American Idol stage yet again.
Richie was a part of the American Idol revival after the Fox network stopped producing the show and the program moved to Walt Disney Co.’s ABC in 2018. According to The Wall Street Journal, Richie was slated to earn $10 million for his debut season as an Idol judge. In comparison, Katy Perry would earn $25 million a season and both Seacrest and Bryan $12 million a season.
Auditions are already underway for ABC’s fifth season of Idol, and the show is expected to air in the spring of 2022. Executive producer Megan Wolflick said of the judges and host, “The chemistry and passion Katy, Luke, Lionel, and Ryan bring is second to none. We couldn’t be more ecstatic that they are returning for this iconic 20th season,” according to Deadline.