We had originally arranged to meet for the interview at his Los Angeles home - the former Guggenheim mansion - but Richie cancelled at the last minute.I had assumed this was because he was depressed about the divorce.As the singer struggles to keep his sanity - and his fortune - intact, Marianne Macdonald meets a man 'in search of the next adventure' 'No, no, no, no, no,' he assures me, as if the idea is absurd.'I went through a period of shock and all at first, but then what happens is, you kind of relax and realise it's a process that you'll go through.He founded the Commodores in 1967 and wrote their hits 'Easy' and 'Three Times a Lady', making them one of America's most popular bands.He dueted another of his songs, 'Endless Love', with Diana Ross - which outsold all previous Motown singles.Like my dear friend Elizabeth Taylor said once, "It's the first one you have to get over." "After that, you kind of know what's coming.
From his wildchild daughter to the wife currently divorcing him for £165,000 a month, Lionel Richie has long had a tempestuous relationship with the ladies.
In 1982 he went solo and the hits kept coming - 'All Night Long', 'Hello', 'Say You, Say Me' - until the late 1980s when he went into retirement.
He came back in 1993 and now he's on a world tour (playing here in October) and has a new album, Just For You, from which he releases the second single 'I Still Believe' later this month.
But today, at the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park, he is radiating positivity, flirting in a relaxed and low-key way with the young women around us who are dressing him for the photo-shoot and seeing him through his schedule. ' he asks the poised, pretty, stick-thin stylist, before joking with the quiet PR girl about becoming her husband-to-be. 'But you know,' he interrupts himself, 'I think I'll just let it take its course.
What's been excellent for me is I've had my writing and the studio to go to, so I'm not just sitting around idle. When the going gets tough, you get real busy.'He grins; the 55-year-old singer certainly exudes full-on, glossy confidence.This is the reward for being one of the world's biggest performers: Richie has sold nearly 100 million albums over a four-decade career.