Lionel Richie Went Through A "Massive Depression" After Father's Death

By David Konow 04/25/18

Richie says his young kids helped him out of his depression and back into making music.

Lionel Richie

Five-time Grammy winning singer Lionel Richie is back in the spotlight as one of the celebrity judges of American Idol. Now Richie, like many celebrities, is opening up about going through a depression after the death of his father, Lionel Sr.

Richie revealed in an interview with ITV's Lorraine that he went through a dark period after his father passed away in 1990.  

“My father was ill and I went through a very—I won’t say a depression, a massive depression, because, you know, my dad was my hero. I went through that whole period of my life.”

Richie took time away from music to be there for his father, putting his career on hold for years.

He told ABC News, “Fortunately, he didn’t die suddenly. If someone said, ‘Spend time with your father or your new album,’ there’s just no contest.”

Richie was finally rejuvenated in 1994 by the birth of his second child, Miles. “It was something about the birth of my kid,” Richie continues. “Miles came along and [Nicole] was already there, and I realized I had a group of people that were kind of looking up to me to be the head of the house.”

Richie says his kids also got him to go back to work. “They didn’t know what the hell I did for a living so I thought at the particular point, let’s go back and prove to the kids what I do. And so that was the incentive. I realized, this is what I should be doing.”

Richie had previously revealed that he had also gone through a depression after getting a divorce. He told The Mirror that his own music brought him out of the darkness.

“A friend said to me: ‘Lionel, I have some inspirational tapes I want you to listen to.’ He handed me my own songs with certain ones underlined and I started listening to my lyrics—this time from the point of view of someone who needed that message.”

Richie added, “I used to look out into the audience and wonder why that guy was crying to one of my songs and now I get it—it just hits something in your core.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.