*Four years before Adele was even born, Lionel Richie went into Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles and planted his flag on the song title “Hello,” whether he wants to admit the ownership or not.
Today, May 12, marks the 37th anniversary of the day in 1984 when Richie recorded “Hello.” The song became his second No. 1 from “Can’t Slow Down,” which was his second solo album since leaving The Commodores. It won the 1984 Grammy for “Album of the Year” and is still the biggest-selling album in the history of Motown Records.
But the song wasn’t just a magnet for ridiculous album sales and every major music award in 1984. It also became the source of a copyright infringement lawsuit, and spawned a music video that had everyone confused, including Richie himself.
Let’s take a look back.
Lionel Richie “Hello” – Live, 1987
“Hello” is reportedly rooted in Richie’s shyness as a youngster, too introverted to talk to girls. In his head, he would tell them, “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” Years later he decided to write a song using the line, but couldn’t quite make it work and gave up. Some time later, when record producer James Anthony Carmichael visited Richie, the singer jokingly greeted him with his childhood phrase, to which Carmichael replied, “Finish that song.”
Richie wrote the song for his self-titled 1982 solo debut album, but he left it off the final version, thinking it was too corny. His wife Brenda, however, loved it and insisted that he include the ballad on his next album, “Can’t Slow Down.”
That brings us to the music video, where Richie plays a teacher, Mr. Reynolds, who falls for his blind pottery student, Laura. The kicker is that she ends up crafting a clay model of her instructor’s head. “This is how I see you,” she tells him, while feeling his face. Richie complained to director Bob Giraldi that the storyline had nothing to do with the song’s lyrics. Giraldi, who also directed Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video, reportedly replied, “You’re not creating the story, I am.”
Richie reportedly argued that that the bust didn’t even look like him. Giraldi said it’s because the girl making it was supposed to be blind.
Needless to say, the “Hello” visual was voted worst music video of all time in a poll of 8,000 music fans by UK TV music channel The Box.
Also, Richie was sued in 1984 by songwriter Marjorie White, who claimed “Hello” was based on her 1978 song, “I’m Not Ready to Go.”
Laura Carrington, the then 26-year-old aspiring actress who played the blind sculptress, went on to portray the first iteration of Dr. Simone Ravelle Hardy on the ABC soap “General Hospital” during the late 1980s. She made history as part of TV’s first Black/white interracial couple.
And today, “Hello” is the gift that just keeps on giving.
Jimmy Fallon Sings “Hello” with Lionel Richie’s Head
Lionel Richie ‘Hello’ Parody, Scary Movie 4 (Brokeback Mountain Love Scene)
Lionel Richie Singing “Hello” on Helium
‘American Idol’ Contestants Have the Nerve to Sing “Hello” in front of Lionel Richie