Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. (born June 20, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, actor and record producer. Beginning in 1968, he was a member of the funk and soul band the Commodores and then launched a solo career in 1982. He also co-wrote the 1985 charity single We Are the World with Michael Jackson, which sold over 20 million copies. Richie has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the worlds best-selling artists of all time. He is also a five-time Grammy Award winner. In 2016, Richie received the Songwriters Hall of Fames highest honor, the Johnny Mercer Award.
Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. was born and raised in Tuskegee, Alabama, the son of Alberta R. (Foster) and Lionel Brockman Richie, Sr. He grew up on the campus of Tuskegee Institute.
Richie graduated from Joliet Township High School, East Campus. A star tennis player in Joliet, he accepted a tennis scholarship to attend Tuskegee Institute, and dropped out of Tuskegee Institute after his sophomore year. Richie seriously considered studying divinity to become a priest with the Episcopal Church, but ultimately decided he was not priest material and decided to continue his musical career. He is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, a national honor fraternity for band members, and an active life member of Alpha Phi Alpha   Fraternity.
As a student in Tuskegee, Richie formed a succession of R&B groups in the mid-1960s. In 1968, he became a singer and saxophonist with the Commodores. They signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1968 for one record before moving on to Motown Records initially as a support act to The Jackson 5. The Commodores then became established as a popular soul group. Their first several albums had a danceable, funky sound, as in such tracks as Machine Gun and Brick House. Over time, Richie wrote and sang more romantic, easy-listening ballads such as Easy, Three Times a Lady, Still, and the tragic breakup ballad Sail On.
By the late 1970s, Richie had begun to