[Note: Lionel Richie was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2022.]
It is remarkable to me that Lionel Richie is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. To be sure, Lionel Richie is not a rock act, but as far as R&B acts go, he has well-loved songs and has managed over the course of forty years to be a key figure in the music world. For the first part of his career he was a part of the Commodores, one of the key groups in the 70’s Motown scene. While the 60’s Motown scene has been well-respected by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the same is not the case at all for 70’s Motown. Why is this the case? The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is already inducting grunge acts and rappers from the 90’s, and yet one of the key groups of the 1970’s and an immensely successful solo artist from the 80’s still remain to be inducted. Lionel Richie is really disrespected by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and it’s not clear why. Both the Commodores and Richie as a solo artist have had an immense cultural influence–Nightshift is a legendary song, Hello has been immensely memed, and Nicole Richie has had immense cultural relevance of her own beyond being the subject of songs like Ballerina Girl and Like It’s Her Birthday. Lionel Richie and the Commodores deserve some kind of credit for having inspired such influence.
The Influence Of The Commodores And Lionel Richie
As I have already noted, both the Commodores and Lionel Richie have had a wide and diverse group of influence. As is often the case, they have an influence through their music. The Commodores slowly developed their popularity before achieving mass popularity in the late 70’s and, after Richie departed, a comeback in the mid 1980’s. Lionel Richie started his career as an immensely successful star and kept that up over the course of the 1980’s with immensely popular and well-loved music that he continues to perform to appreciative audiences to this day. The music of The Commodores and Lionel Richie is covered and referenced and sampled as part of the culture of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Likewise, Richie himself was involved in soundtrack pop and had successful duets with artists as diverse as Alabama and Diana Ross besides his own immensely successful work that straddled the line between R&B, pop, and even country. Both the Commodores and Lionel Richie on his own remain important cultural touchstones, which indicates that they have relevance to the larger culture and have influenced the way we think about the world in some fashion.
Why The Commodores And Lionel Richie Belong In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
The real and obvious case for The Commodores and Lionel Richie belonging in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is their music. The Commodores had three platinum albums between 1978’s Natural High and In The Pocket from 1981, as well as a gold comeback album in Nightshift . The band also has two gold and one platinum compilation album. Concerning the band’s hits, they begin with 1974’s top 40 hit “Machine Gun,” and continue to 1985’s #3 hit”Nightshift” The group had two #1 hits with “Three Times A Lady” and “Still” and top ten hits with “Sweet Love,” “Just To Be Close To You,” “Easy,” “Brick House,” “Sail On,” “Lady (You Bring Me Up),” and “Oh No.” These songs are by and large classics that remain important songs of the 1970’s. For Lionel Richie, the first three solo albums he released went multi-platinum (one going diamond), and in addition to that he has had a platinum and gold album later in his career among his studio albums, besides two platinum and a gold compilation albums as well. Among his singles, he has five #1 hits, including “Endless Love” with Diana Ross, “Truly,” “All Night Long (All Night),” “Hello,” and “Say You, Say Me.” He has additional top ten songs with “You Are,” “My Love,” “Running With The Night,” “Stuck On You,” “Penny Lover,” “Dancing On The Ceiling,” “Love Will Conquer All,” and “Ballerina Girl,” continuing to chart songs well into his career up to 2006’s “I Call It Love .” Many of these songs are classics as well of the 1980’s, a decade that has been criminally ignored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Why The Commodores And Lionel Richie Are Not In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It’s unclear why the Commodores have been neglected from 1970’s Motown. The group had successful music that is well-loved to this day, and it may be that people just don’t know that the group hasn’t been inducted yet. For Lionel Richie, the fact that his solo career began in the 1980’s explains for his omission because the decade has been ignored.
Verdict: Put them in. Lionel Richie deserves to be a double inductee, maybe in the same year even.