From my earliest childhood memories, I was a fan of the Commodores. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the first concert I ever attended was when the Commodores came to the Macon Coliseum in 1980. Dressed in white jumpsuits with sequins, the concert lighting caused them to dazzle and sparkle as they moved on stage. There was something magical not only about how they looked, but their music, as well. They certainly left an impression on me that has lasted until this day.
Throughout the 70s, the Commodores were one of the most sought after bands in the world. Their brand of pop-infused funk proved to be a successful formula, and their continuous airplay over the radio was the proof. Sold out stadiums and venues everywhere was further evidence. With such hits as Brick House, Easy, Sail On, 3 Times a Lady, Still, and Just to be Close To You, they were well on their way to becoming the “Black Beatles”, as founding member, Thomas McClary, would go on to say.
Sadly; however, like the Beatles, the magic wouldn’t last as the group would eventually lose one of their lead vocalists, Lionel Richie, to a solo career (and a quite successful one at that). I, for one, was devastated and held this against Lionel Richie for years. Not knowing the full story, I did my best not to like his music, and I tried to overlook the success he found away from the group. Quite frankly, I did everything I could to prevent myself from hearing anything about him or his success. I felt like he was a traitor!
While speculations have long run rampant as to why the breakup really occurred, Richie gives an interesting perspective on what happened in the video below titled “The Stab in the Heart” that broke up the Commodores. Though his commentary is gut-wrenching at times, the passion in his voice will lead you to believe that he never wanted to leave the band in the first place. And for me personally, it also clarifies it in a way that makes me sorry for blaming him for all of these years. I can now certainly appreciate his music accomplishments since leaving the Commodores in a more sincere way.
In all, the Commodores have scored seven #1 hits on the R&B charts, while Three Times a Lady, and Still are the only records to make #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. They have gone on to sell over 75 million records worldwide, while Richie, himself, has sold over 100 million records worldwide. He has also reached #1 five times with such great songs as Endless Love (duet with Diana Ross), All Night Long, Hello, Say You Say Me, and Truly. Richie has received five Grammy Awards, as well.
Finally, I am one of the longtime fans that still holds out hope for a reunion. And while it appears that longtime pals Richie and McClary are open to the possibility, there is apparently some work to do in convincing all of the others.
Were you a fan of the Commodores? What was your favorite song? Did you have a chance to see them in concert with Lionel Richie? Be sure to comment and let me know.
You may also like Thomas McClary’s interview below.