Lionel Richie Pays Moving Tribute to Kenny Rogers With ‘Lady’ at 2021 Grammy Awards [WATCH]
Lionel Richie took the stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards on Sunday night (March 14) to pay musical tribute to his late friend and collaborator, Kenny Rogers, singing Rogers' career-altering hit, "Lady," which Richie wrote.
The pop superstar and American Idol judge was clad in a long, black trenchcoat in front of a backdrop of Rogers on a dark, moody stage. He delivered the romantic lyric over an acoustic guitar-dominated arrangement that was very different from Rogers' piano-driven recording, while still retaining the vibe of the iconic record.
'I miss you, Kenny," Richie said somberly at the end of his performance. "I miss you, man."
Richie had already scored a long string of hits as a member of the Commodores when he began writing "Lady." His bandmates balked at recording it, having already had hits with Richie ballads including "Three Times a Lady," "Sail On" and "Still."
The song came to Rogers' attention, and when Richie played him a rough version, Rogers asked him to finish it specifically for him. Rogers recorded "Lady" with Richie producing and released it in 1980, and it ended up becoming one of his all-time most iconic hits, reaching No. 1 in country, adult contemporary and pop and launching Rogers as a multi-genre crossover superstar.
The men remained close friends until Rogers died on March 20, 2020, at the age of 81.