When Lionel Richie first made the Billboard Hot 100 in his own name, with his ‘Endless Love’ duet with Diana Ross, he couldn’t have dreamed it would go on to top the chart for nine weeks. Nor would he have dared to think that it would begin a sequence of 13 consecutive US top ten pop hits, of which five were No. 1s.
That sequence continued on 12 May, 1984, when ‘Hello,’ written by the man from Tuskegee, Alabama with longtime collaborator James Anthony Carmichael, took over the top spot on the countdown from Phil Collins’ ‘Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now).’
The top five that week was an international affair, with the UK further represented (along with New Zealand) by the Thompson Twins’ ‘Hold Me Now’ at No. 3, while the US offered Deniece Williams’ ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’ at No. 4. Australian pin-up Rick Springfield stood at No. 5 with ‘Love Somebody.’ Two weeks later, when Richie’s reign was over, Williams took the next turn at the top. ‘Hello’ had made No. 1 in the UK with the song six weeks earlier.
All of which massive success makes it the more remarkable that Richie had given ‘Hello’ the thumbs-down when finalising his first, self-titled solo album. He was also thinking of excluding it from the second, the multi-million-selling Can’t Slow Down, until his wife Brenda insisted that it should make the cut.
Within a few weeks, Richie was on his way back to the US top three with ‘Stuck On You,’ the album’s next hit, and then into the top ten with yet another, ‘Penny Lover.’
Listen to ‘Hello’ on the album Can’t Slow Down available to buy here.