“Lady.” One word, and my best friend’s mother went weak in the knees. School had just started in the fall of 1980. “I’m your knight in shining armor, and I love you.”
Did anyone watch The Gambler and Lionel Richie sing “Lady” as a duet last April on CBS at the MGM Hotel? Did you catch Kenny Rogers’ story about Richie writing the second verse to “Lady” on the toilet? Yes, it was destined for greatness. It was the first record of the 80s to chart on all four of Billboard’s singles charts, including the Hot 100, adult contemporary, country, and top black singles. Over thirty-two years have passed since it hit Number One, and time has taken its toll. At least, on Kenny.
Last October, he told Oprah’s BFF that his plastic surgeon was one of the world’s best, and that he had “the money to do it, and I had time off.” Look, we’re all vain. Men are not immune to the lure of cosmetic surgery. You’ve seen Mickey Rourke. You can’t escape Bruce Jenner nonstop on E!. And Barry Manilow’s cheeks look hard and puffy like papier mache. But Kenny defended, “The truth is that I don’t know what I would have looked like if I hadn’t done it.” Good point. Maybe a debonair Colonel Sanders?
Now just try and Google image “Lionel Richie before and after.” A funny thing happens. There are no matches! Do you know why? Because there is no such thing. Lionel Richie is almost godly in the way that he looks the same as he was, and is, and will be. He does not change. Well, that’ s not entirely true. His jawline and hair length have changed since his Commodores days, but not much else.
Now Kenny has eleven years on Lionel, so it only makes sense that he looks older than Lionel. But that doesn’t explain why time stands still for Lionel. Did he sell his soul to the same dark lord that Ralph Macchio and Rob Lowe did? The old adage “black don’t crack” will have to suffice. It clearly ain’t crackin’. The evidence is at hand.
I actually think he looks BETTER now than he did in ’86. And if he did get surgery, that doctor has skills. Either way, Lionel should be giddy. If it were me, I’d be dancing on the ceiling all night long.