An ‘American Idol’ Judge Turned Down The Show ‘Many Times’

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan

ABC Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan

An “American Idol” judge recently admitted to turning down the show “many times” in the past. Read on to find out why creator Simon Fuller could not convince music superstar Lionel Richie to do the show for years and then what changed for him along the way, plus why he thinks “American Idol” is still such a special part of American culture.


Lionel Was First Approached About ‘American Idol’ 10 Years Ago

Lionel Richie was awarded the 2022 Gershwin Prize in January and will be celebrated for it in a star-studded tribute on March 9, which will air in May on PBS stations across the country.

During a Q&A on PBS’ day of the 2022 Television Critics Association winter press tour, Richie talked about why he loves doing “American Idol” and why he initially turned them down.

“Probably 10 years ago … [creator Simon Fuller] and I had spoken many times about ‘would you like to be a part of this,'” said Richie, but he kept turning the show down because hew as “touring the world” and he “didn’t have the time.”

“I didn’t have [the time],” said Richie, adding that eventually, he got to a time in his life where he was ready.

“I was asked to do ‘American Idol.’ I’ve known Ryan [Seacrest] for a very long time. And so of course, knowing that Katy [Perry] asked for me, and I asked for Luke [Bryan]. And so we kind of put our dream team, magic group together, which is more fun than I could ever tell you,” said Richie.


Richie Likes That All of the ‘American Idol’ Judges Are Artists Themselves

Richie went on to say that he thinks what makes their judges’ panel so special is that they are a “judging team of artists.”

“We actually know what these kids are going through,” said Richie, adding that he was a little unsure of himself at first.

“The first year was a little strange because I didn’t quite know exactly how this was going to work. But then as it kept going, you realized that this was a magical moment because when I see that kid shaking, scared to death, I realize I’m looking at myself,” said Richie. “That’s me standing there in front of an audition trying to get a record deal. We don’t know what we’re doing, but we know that the people in front of us can give us that shot in life … I have been there and done that. So I kind of know what they’re experiencing and where they’re going.”

He also said that what makes “American Idol” so special to him is that he has parents coming up to him and telling him that “American Idol” is family time in their house.

“I love the experience of giving back to [the emerging artists] and also to America, because when parents say to me, ‘We make this the family hour,’ when ‘American Idol’ comes on, “because this is something we can all learn from as a family,” I think it’s a beautiful thing,” said the Grammy-winning artist.

“American Idol” season 20 premieres at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on Sunday, February 27, on ABC.

READ NEXT: ‘American Idol’ Fans ‘Devastated’ Over David Archuleta’s News

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