About The Commodores
Legendary funk and soul band The Commodores launched the career of Lionel Richie and ruled the charts in the latter half of the ’70s. They amassed seven No. 1 R&B hits—two of which also topped the pop charts.
• In 1968, Tuskegee University students Lionel Richie, Thomas McClary, William King, Andre Callahan, Michael Gilbert, and Milan Williams became The Commodores.
• With Walter “Clyde” Orange and Ronald LaPread, the band moved to New York City in 1969 and landed an opportunity to tour with the Jackson 5 as an opening act.
• The band parlayed the collaboration into a record deal with Motown Records, through which they issued their 1974 debut album, Machine Gun.
• After topping the R&B charts with their funky 1975 jam “Slippery When Wet,” The Commodores made inroads to the pop charts with the ballads “Sweet Love” and “Just to be Close to You,” both of which reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
• Their self-titled 1977 breakthrough album spawned a pair of Top 5 pop hits: the Grammy-nominated ballad “Easy” and the uptempo “Brick House.” The lyrics for the latter were written by band member William King’s wife, Shirley Hanna-King.
• The platinum-certified 1978 album Natural High features another monster ballad from Lionel Richie. “Three Times a Lady” topped the pop and R&B charts and earned The Commodores a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus.
• With 1979’s “Still,” another ballad written and performed by Richie, the group earned their second No. 1 pop hit.
• After Richie’s departure for a solo career in 1982, the group managed one more major Top 5 pop hit with 1985’s “Nightshift,” a tribute to soul greats Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye.
• Since the ’90s, The Commodores have continued touring with Orange, King, and singer J.D. Nicholas, who joined in 1984, front and center.