Lionel Richie: Vegas connections
Lionel Richie is embarking on a project that is sure to strengthen his Las Vegas connections.
After years of legal disputes with the estate of Sammy Davis Jr., a team of producers including Richie has finally received the green light to develop a film based on Davis’ extraordinary life and career in entertainment. The 1965 memoir Yes I Can is slated to be the foundation for the movie, which is likely to detail Davis’ years as a Vegas headliner, including the immortal Rat Pack years and his earlier, essential role in the success of the Moulin Rouge hotel and casino, the historic West Las Vegas destination that sparked the end of segregation on the Strip.
“It’s an honor for me to bring the life of one of my idols and friends to the screen. … I couldn’t be happier to be moving forward on this passion project,” Richie said earlier this year.
He’s following in his idol’s footsteps now. After his All the Hits, All Night Long tour wrapped in 2015—after more than 125 shows—the former frontman of the Commodores launched his All the Hits residency at the Axis at Planet Hollywood Resort in April 2016. He’s back on the Strip this month extending into December with what has become one of the theater’s most popular productions. In fact, his show opened during what may have been one of the most incredible concert weekends in Las Vegas history, coming close to capacity while competing with Elton John, Billy Joel and Rihanna at other Strip venues.
That’s because Richie truly has all the hits. He knows his audience has multiple memories tied to each legendary track, and he knows how to fire up those emotional connections. “Stuck on You,” the fourth single from 1984’s epic Can’t Slow Down album, shows the Alabama-raised performer’s twangier side, and while the song originally challenged perceptions of Richie as strictly a soul and funk man, it maintains a timeless quality that keeps captivating crowds. Earlier ballad “Truly,” one of his first solo hits, is just as powerful in performance today as it was 35 years ago.
Richie’s slower tunes are among the best-loved love songs of all time; think “Endless Love,” “Hello,” “Penny Lover” and “Three Times a Lady.” But if all the headliners at the Axis are required to turn their shows into a massive dance party—and that appears to be the case—Richie is up to the task. After all, you don’t sell more than 100 million albums on ballads alone. Richie gets everyone out of their seats with “All Night Long” and “Dancing on the Ceiling,” then pushes the idea of an arena-wide sing-along to the next level with anthemic hits “Say You, Say Me,” and the classic “Easy (Like Sunday Morning).”
This show has all the elements to become one of the all-time greats on the Strip, perhaps powerful enough to place Richie in the same Las Vegas legend category as Sammy Davis Jr.
Planet Hollywood Resort, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, Dec. 6, 8-9, 13 & 15-16, starting at $59 plus tax and fee. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster