Lionel Richie is the king of love, romance and sex. His life’s been a roller coaster with some of the most stratospherically successful career highs anyone could imagine, but he’s also been involved in an affair and divorces and some really low moments. When talking to Piers, for Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, which will be on ITV at 9pm on Friday 4th September, Lionel discussed:
Music wasn’t Lionel’s only passion. He’d also found love with a fellow undergraduate, Brenda and in 1984, the same year in which ‘Hello’ released Lionel and Brenda had also said hello to four-year-old Nicole. She was the daughter of one of Lionel’s band mates and he was unable to look after her and Lionel stepped in.
Piers asked: “How did it happen that you came to adopt her? Tell me about the process.”
Lionel said: “I went to a Prince concert and there on the stage in the middle of the Prince concert was this four year old kid playing the tambourine. So I went backstage and I knew the mother and I knew the father and of course they were having difficulties with their relationship and I said “While you are having the difficulty the kid is sitting out here in limbo so I’ll tell you what I’ll do, just put the kid in my house until the tour is over with and then we will sort this out later.” And so it took about maybe a year for me to just fall in love and she was a little button and of course by that time I was Dad and so I said okay here is what we are going to do, you’re going to make everyone wish that they had adopted you. You are going to make everyone in your family wish they actually had a chance to get you back and that’s when I said, “Lets adopt her” and the rest is beautiful.”
Piers asked: “Did she know that she had been adopted? Or was there a moment when you had to have that conversation?”
Lionel said: “I remember just saying to her, because I don’t think she understood adoption, I think I just closed the door and said “Okay, I am never going to leave you ever again” and I said “Do you understand that?” and she said “Yes” which I am probably sure she didn’t, she didn’t know what that meant. And as time went on she got into a lot of trouble here and there and she kept saying to me “Dad, what are you going to do?” and I said, “Well, are you doing a television show?” and she said yes and I said “Well I’m showing up at the television show with you”. And she said “It’s embarrassing for what I went through” and I said “ What did I tell you? I’m not leaving you” and then she went through another problem and I said to her “I’m showing up” and she said “Dad you can’t show up it’s court, the cameras are at the court you can’t show up” and I said “What did I tell you? I’m not leaving you” so what I did was every time she got a chance to get into trouble she’d go “Wait, I can’t do that because my Dad is going to show up”.
In 2003 the Richie name was in the spotlight but this time it was his daughter Nicole, thanks to her starring role in reality television series ‘The Simple Life’ with her then best friend Paris Hilton. Nicole’s choices hit headlines when she checked into rehab after being arrested for drug possession.
Piers said: “Nicole became a huge star herself in ‘The Simple Life’ with Paris Hilton. She fell off the rails and she got into drugs and the wrong kind of friends and was arrested for possession of heroin and went into rehab. That’s a fairly cataclysmic thing for any father to have to watch his beautiful, young daughter go through.”
Lionel said: “Getting her to understand the severity of what was happening. Now I sound like my father now, but I went to her and I said, “When I was growing up I lost three friends, they were the hippest friends I ever knew in life. One was the hippest guy at the clubs, he drank and he died in a car accident. The second friend died of drugs and the third one, suicide.” I said, “It’s going to happen to your generation. I don’t want you to be in that list of three because after that you’ll be just fine” Well, three months later her friend died of an overdose and I went back to her and very quietly, I was very shocked and I said, “I am sorry to hear that, that’s one.” And sure enough, one year later the second one died and I said “That’s two” and I got a phone call and she said “Dad I need help, I don’t want to be the third one.” And I said “I am with you” and I cancelled the tour. I said “Me and your mother”, who didn’t get along that well, “Me and your mother are checking into rehab with you.””
Today Nicole has settled down with musician husband Joel Madden, and they have two children Harlow, 7, and Sparrow, 5.
Piers asked: “When you see how Nicole has now come through everything, you must feel very proud of her.”
Lionel said: “There is not a day that I don’t send a text to her and I put down “Proud of you.”
Piers asked: “You are actually granddad. Be honest Lionel, the moment you became a grandfather, as a handsome pop icon that must have been a difficult day. I mean joyous, but difficult.”
Lionel said: “It scared me to death. I’m in tight pants and she is saying “Grandpa”. What are we talking about? And all of the sudden the word “Sexy” goes out of your life right quick. But I was so thrilled when the little ‘Pop-Pop’ showed up I mean I’ll take that position any day of the week, I love it.”