The way Lionel Richie tells it, his close friend Kenny Rogers didn’t take no for an answer, especially when it came to barbecue.
Need an example? Richie recently recalled how he ended up at Rogers’ Fourth of July party at the country legend’s farm in Athens, Ga.
Richie originally told Rogers thanks, but no thanks, when Rogers asked him to the party.
“He said, ‘No, Lionel, I want you to come up here because we’ve got a great barbecue,” Richie said in an interview with ABC News. “I said, ‘No, no, Kenny, I’ve got it all down here. I’m gonna miss it this time, but I’ll see you next (time).'”
Richie planned to be eating barbecue at his parents’ home in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Next thing you know, Richie spotted Rogers overhead. Literally.
“A helicopter is flying over the top of my house, with my mom and dad in the helicopter,” Richie said, as he laughed at the memory.
“He came down, picked me up and carried us all back to his farm in Georgia,” Richie said. “We had barbecue, part of my barbecue in Alabama, then the rest of his barbecue at his farm Georgia.”
Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers Were As Close As Family
Richie likened Rogers to “a family member.” So he mourned mightily when Rogers died in March. He was 81.
Rogers and Richie, a pop superstar and judge on “American Idol,” had been close friends for decades.
Richie wrote and produced Rogers’ smash hit “Lady” in 1980. He also produced Rogers’ album “Share Your Love.” The album included hit song “I Don’t Need You.”
Richie told People magazine that he’d initially offered “Lady” to his group “The Commodores” back in 1979.
“I had written ‘Lady’ for the Commodores, and they didn’t want it,” Richie said. “Kenny wants to have the song,’ they told me.”
“When ‘Lady’ came out,” Richie said, “It was an explosion onto the music scene.”
In an acceptance speech at the 1981 American Music Awards, Rogers thanked Richie by name for writing the song.
Richie said Rogers’ speech inspired him to pursue a solo singing career. He quit the Commodores months later.
“Everything that happened in my life, truthfully, from that moment on, had a Kenny Rogers stamp on it,” Richie told People. “I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. When I was going through everything, leaving the Commodores, trying to be a solo artist, trying to figure out what that means — he was that guy.”