Brenda Harvey-Richie, Lionel Richie’s First Wife: 5 Fast Facts

American Idol

Getty Actress Nicole Richie and her mother Brenda Richie.

Brenda Harvey-Richie is Lionel Richie’s former wife. Lionel Richie is a judge on American Idol.

Lionel Richie began his musical career in funk and soul band, the Commodores. He started his solo career in 1982. Lionel Richie is not only a singer, but also an actor, songwriter, and record producer. Richie helped to write Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World.” The song sold over 20 million copies. Now he is a judge on American Idol.

Lionel Richie married Brenda Harvey-Richie in 1975 and in 1993 they divorced. Richie married his mistress Diane two years later, divorcing her in 2004. Richie and Brenda Harvey adopted their daughter Nicole Richie when she was 9 years old.

Here’s everything you need to know about Brenda Harvey-Richie:


1. Brenda Harvey-Richie and Lionel Richie Were Married for 18 Years

Brenda Harvey-Richie was Lionel’s college sweetheart. Lionel Richie, who grew up just next door to the Tuskegee University campus, went there on a tennis scholarship. He joined a musical group called the Commodores and went on tour. Around that time, he began dating Brenda Harvey. When he returned from tour, Harvey hinted she was planning to get engaged to someone else. They eventually married on October 18, 1975.

Nearly 10 years later, 3-year-old Nicole moved in with the couple after her biological parents, Peter Michael Escovedo and Karen Moss, agreed. She was legally adopted by Harvey and Richie at age 9. The pair divorced in 1993 after Lionel started dating Diane Alexander, with whom he had son Miles and daughter Sofia before they divorced in 2003, reported Us Weekly.


2. They Adopted Nicole Richie When She Was 9 Years Old

On September 21, 1981, Nicole was born to her biological parents, Peter Escovedo (a drummer who toured with Lionel for a brief period of time) and Karen Moss. By the time she was 3, however, Peter and Karen were reportedly having issues with both their relationship and their finances, and knowing they couldn’t properly care for Nicole, they agreed to let her move in with Lionel.

“It took about maybe a year for me to just fall in love [with Nicole],” Lionel told Piers Morgan during a 2015 interview. “Of course, by that time, I was ‘Dad’… that’s when I said, ‘Let’s adopt her.'” Lionel and Brenda Harvey-Richie officially adopted Nicole when she was 9, and she became known as Nicole Richie, reported Good Housekeeping.

Today, Nicole is famous in her own right. Since starring in the early-2000 reality show The Simple Life with her friend Paris Hilton, she has worked as a television personality, actress, author and fashion designer and a reality show judge.

Nicole has a daughter, Harlow and son, Sparrow, with her husband, Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden, reported Good Housekeeping.


3. Brenda Harvey-Richie Was Arrested for Beating Up Lionel Richie & His Mistress

Lionel and Harvey divorced in 1993, and he married Alexander in 1995. Lionel and Alexander’s marriage ended in 2003, after they had Miles and Sofia. Lionel Richie met Diane Alexander in 1984 and reportedly began a relationship with her in 1986. Although he and Harvey were separated by then, they hadn’t divorced. So he was still married when they began dating.

An interview into Richie’s home life in 1986 doesn’t indicate any marital trouble. Richie and Harvey’s separation turned ugly in June 1988. Harvey discovered Richie’s affair when she suddenly showed up at Alexander’s Beverly Hills apartment, where he was inside.

In June 1988, Brenda Harvey-Richie was arrested for hitting Richie and his mistress. She found them together in the woman’s apartment in Beverly Hills, according to the police. Harvey-Richie ended up being booked on suspicion of causing corporal injury to her spouse, trespassing, resisting arrest, vandalism, battery and disturbing the peace in the neighborhood after she attacked her Lionel. Harvey was released on a $5,000 bail.


4. Lionel Richie Married Diane Alexander In 1995

Lionel married his mistress Diane Alexander in 1995, two years after he divorced Harvey-Richie, only to divorce her in 2004, reported Panda Gossips.

In 1986, Lionel began having an affair with Alexander, a dancer who appeared in his 1986 “Dancing On The Ceiling” music video. In 1988, Lionel Richie filed for divorce from Brenda. It was reported that for a year before their official separation, Lionel and Brenda lived separately.

Richie stepped back from public life because of his reported personal problems, but after marrying Alexander, he released “Louder Than Words.” The album was part of a successful comeback after a period of time in which he had not been working, reported Panda Gossips.

In 2016, Richie dated model and Facebook employee, Lisa Parigi, with whom he was considering having children. Because of the reported stress he endured in his dealings with his previous marriages, Lionel said he was not willing to get married again.


5. Brenda Harvey-Richie & Lionel Richie Are Still Friends

His other ex-wife, Harvey-Richie, spends time with her ex-husband too, especially when they have an event to attend together, meaning there is no bad blood between the two. I’ve got Nicole [Richie’s] mom,” the American Idol judge, 69, told Us Weekly exclusively at a Sunday, April 28, taping of an upcoming episode. “I’m going to be busy on Mother’s Day… We’ll have a semi-family reunion.”

Harvey comments on her ex-husband’s children, Miles and Sofia, on Facebook. She even shares throwback pictures with Miles and Sofia. So it appears there’s no bad blood between Richie’s ex-wives and their kids.

READ NEXT: Read more about American Idol.


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