Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie
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Can’t Slow Down

Since his days with the Commodores, Lionel Richie’s love-laden lyrics have not gone unrequited. Fans have bought more than 100 million albums, making the 67-year-old pop star one of the world’s bestselling recording artists. He grew up in Tuskegee, Alabama, with music: Richie’s grandmother taught classical piano and she also instilled in her grandson the importance of etiquette. Setting a proper table was part of her guidance and, as it turns out, an influence on his new line of dinnerware and home décor.

We just got back from South Africa and Chile. It took me about 10 days to recover from that flight and tour, but it was fantastic. The stadium was full of people from parts of the world where English is not the first language and it sounded like karaoke – the crowd was singing louder than I was, in English.

Whether you visualise the stage, the song or the design, it’s creating, it’s creativity. Back in the early days, I brought in Joe Layton to help design my show and he said: ‘Now right here, you stand still and they’ll give you a standing ovation.’ And I said to him: ‘How do you know they’re going to give me a standing ovation?’ He said: ‘It’s vaudeville; it’s been done for 100 years.’ In other words, you develop the eye. I had a chance to watch Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson record. And some of the master writers, Holland-DozierHolland – I had a chance to watch them write. So here I am now in the home design business, and by travelling so much and by getting my eye together along with my background from Tuskegee, I’ve developed the eye as to what I would like to see in my designs.

Pitcher with eye by Pablo Picasso

We had an amazing launch in New York. Martha Stewart came with Robert De Niro and a few other wonderful friends and celebrities. We’ve had a dinner in the Cayman Islands, which was just over the top, and we’re going to do one in Vegas.

Travel is the secret to making new discoveries. The first thing I do when I get to Chile or South Africa – and we’re doing Europe this summer – is to say: ‘Take me to the art, the artist in town. Who’s at the top and who’s up-and-coming?’

I’m all over the map, everywhere from pop culture to Banksys to Buffets to Boteros. I don’t really have a certain period; I just buy what I like. I missed buying the oils of Picasso because I was too young to know I could afford them at the time. Now they’re out of sight, but I have a collection of Picasso pottery and plates and stuff.

You have to love your health. I know some of the wealthiest people in the world who don’t have their health and the rest of living well doesn’t matter. You must love your family and friends. You love your work and what you do, and you love giving back because that’s the completion of the circle. I work hard and I play hard. And to me, if you love every part of your life, you’re living a great life.

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Published 19th September 2016