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’ (1977) featuring shows in Atlanta and Washington DC.
‘Natural High’ (1978) denotes a notable change in their sound and style, slower R&B numbers and a more sophisticated form of funk replaced the up tempo beat on their earlier work, and with the release of monster hit of ‘Three Times A Lady’ The Commodores, and Richie in particular, were now major stars.
Ritchie returned to his old stamping ground in Tuskegee where he graduated with a major in economics before briefly attending Auburn University, but by now his fortunes had changed.
He grew up on the campus of Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) before his family moved to Illinois where he graduated from Joliet Township High School with a tennis scholarship.
Unsurprisingly ‘Can’t Slow Down’ won a 1984 Grammy for Album of the Year.
The same year Richie was invited to perform at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, he was now a superstar.
Subsequent albums ‘Time’ (1998), ‘Renaissance’ (2000) excited little interest.
The beginning of the new decade saw The Commodores continue their prodigious output, with ‘Heroes’ (1980) and ‘In the Pocket’ (1981) best known for the Richie-sung numbers like ‘Lucy’, ‘Why You Wanna Try Me’ and ‘Lady (You Bring Me Up)’.
As a freshman at Tuskegee Institute Richie had met the guys who would become the Commodores.
The band hit the local club circuit (with Richie as their saxophonist) in Tuskegee, Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama, before being invited to New York to attend an audition in 1971.
‘Can’t Slow Down’ spawned four top ten hits, the most widely-known was the overtly sentimental ‘Hello’ which was accompanied by a notoriously inane video.
In 1985, Richie co-wrote ‘We Are the World’ with Michael Jackson, a charity single which involved 45 music and movie stars to raise money in aid of the famine in Ethiopia.