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Lionel Richie – Minister Of Love

Lionel Richie returns to Vegas with love.

Lionel Richie at Zappos Theater in Planet Hollywood Resort & CasinoHe had you at “Hello” and his love songs, no doubt, tugged at your heartstrings as they left an indelible mark on a generation. But as Lionel Richie points out today, even he isn’t immune to the meaning behind his own songs. So get ready Las Vegas because Richie’s ready to party “All Night Long” at Zappos Theater in Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

“I will take some credit for helping to populate the world. It’s like I was there singing in their bedrooms. I
guess that’s why I’ve been called ‘The Minister of Love.'”

Lionel Richie soared to the top with chart-busting hits like “Hello,” “Stuck on You,” and, of course, “All Night Long.” But he wasn’t just selling records. His songs about love were putting his fans in the mood to do more than listen to the music. “I will take some credit for helping to populate the world,” he says with a familiar chuckle.

“It’s like I was there singing in their bedrooms. I guess that’s  why I’ve been called ‘The Minister of Love.'”

Lionel Richie Performing In Potsdam

Lionel Richie Performing In Potsdam

Earning that title has made Richie a superstar with over 100 million in album sales, Grammy and Academy awards, and sold-out concerts around the world. Now, he’s bringing the love back to Las Vegas with his residency show at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, “Lionel Richie— All the Hits,” beginning April 27. Richie is full of enthusiasm about returning to a city where he first performed with The Commodores. “I’ve been through the era where you’d walk down the street in Vegas and it was Frank, Dean, Sammy and a bunch of other huge stars,” he says. “But we were The Commodores and having our own success. We were like, ‘We’re going to do Vegas and kill it’ and we did— selling out the Aladdin.” Ironically, the former Aladdin hotel is now Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, bringing Richie’s return to Las Vegas full circle.

Lionel Richie's Album Tuskegee

Lionel Richie’s Album Tuskegee

LIONEL RICHIE’S DISCOGRAPHY

Lionel Richie (1982)
Can’t Slow Down (1983)
Dancing on the Ceiling (1986)
Back to Front (1992)
Louder Than Words (1996)
Time (1998)
Renaissance (2000)
Encore (2002)
The Definitive Collection (2003)
Just for You (2004)
Coming Home (2006)
Sounds of the Season (2006)
Just Go (2009)
Tuskegee (2012)

THE COMMODORES GREATEST HITS MOTOWN RECORDS, 1978

“Brick House”
“Sweet Love”
“This is Your Life”
“Too Hot ta Trot”
“Easy”
“Fancy Dancer”
“Just To Be Close To You”
“Slippery When Wet”
“Machine Gun”
“Three Times A Lady”

RETURN TO LAS VEGAS

“Vegas is the place to be again,” he continues. “They’ve reinvented it bigger and better than ever.

It’s Sin City, and it’s bringing a new crowd. My litmus test is my 21-year-old son, Miles, who is my manager. I said to him, ‘What do you think about me playing Vegas?’ He said, ‘It’s the coolest thing in the world.'”

Richie has put together a high energy show that gets an extra kick from the special effects he can’t bring when touring. “It’s too expensive when you’re on the road,” he explains, “but I can make it happen at Zappos Theater. Whether you want to fly onto the stage or dance on the ceiling,  anything is possible.”

The heart of the evening remains what millions of fans love most: the songs that have made Richie one of the best-selling artists of all time. “It’s like I’m giving you my version of the Rocky Horror show because it’s sing-along at its finest,” he says. “There’s no way the audience is going to be quiet so I hope you’re coming to hear the person next to you sing. People will be laughing hysterically, or crying hysterically whether it’s ‘All Night Long’ or ‘Stuck on You,’ because my songs bring back every memory you ever had.”

Of course, the evening also includes Riche’s signature anthem, “Hello,” which he admits has gotten almost as much attention recently as it did when it was released, thanks to Adele’s mega-hit recording with the same title. “When I finally heard it, I didn’t know how to react,” he admits. “She was singing ‘Hello, it’s me,’ but it’s a different song. I’ve tried to tell people that I don’t really own the word ‘Hello.'”

“Adele still hasn’t called me yet,” he jokes. “Maybe we’ll do a song together someday. Right now, I’m sure that doing a duet with Lionel Richie is not on her priority list. I know what it’s like when you have a number-one record and you’re getting ready for a big tour.”

MINISTRY OF LOVE

Being in and out of love in his life, he still can’t bring himself to be cynical about the four-letter word that has formed his incredible success. “You don’t walk into love,” Richie says, “you fall in love. There’s no logic to make sense out of it. It’s just the greatest feeling in the whole world that no one can talk you out of, and you just go with it. I think the day you lose that desire it’s over. Love is the most important cornerstone of our existence.”

While audiences at Zappos Theater will be reliving their own scrapbook of memories sparked by Richie’s songs, there’s one they probably won’t hear him perform—the one that got him through some tough times and made him cry.

“You don’t walk into love; you fall in love. Love is the most important cornerstone of our existence.”

“My father was dying,” he recalls. “I was getting a divorce and considering surgery because I wasn’t sure if my vocal cords were going to hold up. A good friend of mine said he had some inspirational songs I should listen to. It turned out they were on my early albums, and one of them was “Jesus Is Love.” I had written it to reach out to people in the midst of their troubles. The Commodores and I performed it to close one of our Vegas shows. I didn’t realize its power until I played it again for myself. I started bawling. I was thinking, ‘What kind of narcissistic singer breaks down listening to his own music?’ Then I realized I was given some answers when I wrote the lyrics, and it was just time to apply them to my own life.”

Ironically, Richie reveals the spiritual connection almost drew him to preach love instead of sing about it. “I was going to Tuskegee University and then on to a seminary to become a minister,” he says. “Meanwhile, I joined The Commodores. I remember one night, some girl in the front row at a show screamed at me, ‘Sing it baby!’ and just ran to the stage. I’d never had a girl scream at me before. That was like a moment of sexual awakening. I called my preacher and said, ‘I don’t think I’m minister material.’ But after I’d done ‘We Are the World’ with Michael Jackson, that same preacher sent me a note saying, ‘There are two types of ministers: those that minister on every street corner and those that preach to the masses. Your ministry is doing quite well.'”

The 66-year-old Richie sees his return to Las Vegas as just another step in a life that keeps getting better. “I am enjoying the ride. As long as I can keep smiling on the inside and the outside,” he reflects. “I can’t tell you how many times people say to me, ‘Hello. I love you.’ When you have that, you can’t give up on love. It’s running me over. The journey has been amazing.”

STORY BY SHEP MORGAN | PHOTOGRAPH BY ALAN SILFEN

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