Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. had been proving his credentials as a songwriter for years by the time he reached a new career milestone on November 27, 1982. The American pop audience declared their love for Lionel Richie in his own right, when he scored his first pop No.1 with the Grammy-winning “Truly.”
The song, from his first, self-titled solo album, was the follow-up to his chart-topping duet with Diana Ross, “Endless Love,” from the film of the same name. “Truly” continued Richie’s pre-eminence as a balladeer, going to the top of both the Adult Contemporary chart and the pop pinnacle, where it replaced Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes’ “Up Where We Belong.” It went on to reach No.6 in the UK, and to win a Grammy Award in the Best Male Pop Vocal category.
Hot ta trot indeed
That success is part of a unique statistic in Richie’s songwriting story, which is that from 1976 to 1986, in a run of 11 years, he wrote or co-wrote a No.1 song on the US pop and/or R&B charts every year. The sequence began with his first bestseller as a writer for the Commodores, “Just To Be Close To You,” which topped the R&B list in 1976 and was followed by their hits “Easy” (1977), “Too Hot Ta Trot” and “Three Times A Lady” (1978), and “Still” in 1979. The latter pair were also pop No.1s.
In 1980, Lionel branched out by writing Kenny Rogers’ pop champion “Lady,” after which came “Endless Love” (which topped both charts) and then “Truly.” Between 1983 and ’85, “All Night Long (All Night),” “Hello” and “Say You, Say Me” were all winners on both the pop and R&B surveys, and “Say You” was actually No.1 from 1985 into the early part of 1986, giving Richie that incredible 11-year run.
Buy or stream “Truly” on the Lionel Richie album.