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Lionel Richie on friendship with Kenny Rogers, "he was that guy"

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Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesLionel Richie and Kenny Rogers‘ friendship goes way back — like four decades back. 

Rogers passed away at 81 on Friday, March 20.  In the wake of Rogers’ passing, Richie reminisced about how the two became best buds. In an interview with People, he opened up about writing the No. 1 hit song “Lady” for the country star.

It all started in 1980 when Richie was still a part of the Commodores

“I had written ‘Lady’ for the Commodores, and they didn’t want it,” Richie explained. “‘Kenny wants to have the song,’ they told me.”

“When ‘Lady’ came out, it was an explosion onto the music scene,” he said. “It was a mutual admiration society.”

Thus began a long-lasting friendship and mentorship. 

“Everything that happened in my life, truthfully, from that moment on, had a Kenny Rogers stamp on it. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor,” the American Idol judge revealed. “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.”

Richie also shared how Rogers had no qualms in keeping it real with him saying, “‘Listen Lionel, this is what’s going to happen, this is what you’re going to feel.'” 

The 70-year-old “All Night Long” singer added, “Everything I thought was the end of the world, he would start laughing. And would ask him, ‘Why are you laughing? I am telling you something dire.’ And he said, ‘I’m from Houston, Texas. I’m from a poor family. You don’t know what hardship is.'”

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