Song: “Lady” by Kenny Rogers
Reached #1: November 15, 1980 (his first, 6 weeks)
In 1980, Lionel Richie was still the lead singer of the Commodores, although he’d started looking to branch out as a songwriter. Kenny Rogers was just 3 years removed from the end of his pop career and the breakup of the First Edition. He had established himself as a country star with 1977’s “Lucille”.
Richie was looking for a big hit as a songwriter. Rogers wanted a slightly-different country sound, and figured a bit of R&B and a bit of country could meet somewhere near pop.
It worked well for both, of course. Rogers got his first solo #1 after several of his other country tracks had crossed into the Billboard Top 10. Richie proved that there was more to his career than just the Commodores – and would wind up commissioned to produce Rogers’ next album, Share Your Love. It also helped propel Richie into his solo career, as he left the Commodores in 1982.
Richie would do his version of his own song in 1999, and would team up with Rogers in 2012 to do “Lady” on his country-duets album, Tuskegee.
Rogers, of course, would go on to be a legend in country music, an occasional actor, and the name and face of a chain of chicken-roaster restaurants.
All in all, I guess you could say this worked out rather well for both….
Tomorrow, a ‘60s band known for counter-culture activism morphs into the group that hit #1 with a song widely hailed as the worst #1 of its era…
No other songs reached #1 on November 15.