Lionel Richie recalls 'insane' first PH visit

by Vincent Paul A. Garcia,

Posted at Mar 19 2014 01:13 AM | Updated as of Mar 19 2014 08:58 PM

MANILA - Grammy-winning artist Lionel Richie fondly remembers three things from his first trip to the Philippines -- the tireless crowd, the "incredible" Cebu, and the "insane" Filipino hospitality.

In an exclusive video interview with ABS-CBN News' Ginger Conejero, the legendary singer explained how that trip in the late '70s with the funk band The Commodores convinced him to pursue a career in singing.

"It was amazing. We kept thinking, what the hell is going on? Are we that big?" he asked, recalling the reception the band got the first time they arrived in the country.

"We had one record and it was an instrumental and the next thing we knew, we were doing five nights in Araneta Coliseum, televised. It was huge. We had military escorts from the airport to the hotel, it was insanity," he added.

At the time, the group was composed of college students Skyler Jett, William King, Walter Orange, J.D. Nicholas, Thomas McClary and Richie (originally on keyboards) out of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, United States.

He recalled how the trip pushed, not only him, but several of the band members to never leave the music industry.

"If nothing else, it gave us all the incentive to do the next record as soon as possible," he revealed. "Back then, some of the guys wanted to be architects, some of them wanted to be lawyers but once we did the Philippines, it was very clear that we were going to be in this business."

The band then went on to compose several hit albums, including "Movin' On," which featured the track "Cebu" -- an instrumental homage to the city Richie referred to as "incredible."

"We became members of every family in the Philippines. It was just about the most welcoming introduction to our career as possible," he said.

Returning to the Big Dome

Richie, however, left the band in 1982 to pursue a solo career which yielded several timeless hits, "Truly," "Endless Love," "You Are," "My Love," "Stuck On You," "Hello," "All Night Long" and "Say You, Say Me."

Now 64, Richie promises to bring the best of both worlds on April 5, where he will be returning the Araneta Coliseum for a one night only concert as part of his "All The Hits - All Night Long" world tour.

"To play there again is such an amazing feeling. That building has been there forever," he said.

He expects his Filipino fans to sing along, which is slowly becoming a staple for the local crowd, while dressed up in their favorite outfits from a bygone era as he promises to hark back to his days with The Commodores.

"The problem now is when do we stop the show, and that's going to be determined by one thing, if they're exhausted we'll go home," he said.

"This is a celebration of a lot of years and lot of memories."