The 21st season of “American Idol” has only just begun, but judge Lionel Richie knows exactly what he’s doing after the show wraps in May. Shortly after the season finale, the 73-year-old singer will head overseas to headline a concert tour across Europe in June and July and, after that, will embark on a just-announced U.S. concert tour with fellow music legends Earth, Wind & Fire.
At a time in his life when he could kick back and relax, content with a storied music career that earned him multiple lifetime achievement honors in 2022, including the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for contributions to popular music, the American Music Awards’ Icon Award, and his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Richie has made it clear he has no intention of slowing down.
Lionel Richie Announces U.S. Concert Tour
On March 6, 2023, Richie announced the “Sing a Song All Night Long” arena tour with Earth, Wind & Fire will kick off in St. Paul, Minnesota, on August 4. According to Rolling Stone, tickets go on sale March 13 for the 20-date tour, which includes stops in Chicago, Toronto, New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Los Angeles.
In an Instagram video, Richie announced the tour by saying it’s “not just any tour, but the tour I’ve been trying to do for years, and now it’s going to actually happen.”
Performing alongside Earth, Wind & Fire will be bittersweet, given that the iconic R&B funk group lost two of its members over the past year. According to American Songwriter, saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk died in April 2022 and drummer Fred White died in January 2023. The outlet said the group’s current lineup features Philip Bailey, Verdine White, and Ralph Johnson, along with B. David Whitworth, Myron McKinley, John Paris, Philip Bailey, Jr., Morris O’Connor, and Serg Dimitrijevic.
Before his U.S. tour, Richie will perform 17 concerts in Europe, including multiple dates in the U.K. and Ireland, as well as Switzerland and Spain.
Richie’s first-ever concert tour was with the Jackson 5 in 1971 after his group, the Commodores, signed with Motown Records, according to CBS News. In a 2022 interview, Richie recalled going from obscurity to playing huge concert dates practically overnight.
He said, “Michael (Jackson) and I – he’s about this tall – and he said, ‘Oh my God, Lionel, we sold out Madison Square Garden.’ And I said, ‘No, no, you sold out Madison Square Garden!'”
In 2020, he told British website Red Online that he still loves touring as much as when he started playing.
“A tour is the best excuse for acting like a kid you can ever have,” he said. “I walk out on stage and it could be 1979, 1989,1999 or 2009, I’m back there in the bubble.”
Lionel Richie Says He Has No Plans to Retire
Richie, who has an estimated net worth of $200 million, has plenty of other projects to keep him busy, too. He is in his sixth season as an “American Idol” judge alongside Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, and also has his own line of home decor and a fragrance called “Hello.”
In May 2022, he told Billboard that time is flying for him on “Idol” because he has so much much fun with his colleagues, discovering new talent and leveraging decades of wisdom he’s gathered throughout his career.
“People have asked me when am I going to retire, and I’ve said from what? I’ve never had a job in my life,” he said. “This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had, at this stage of my life, only because I know what I’m talking about. I’ve done everything.”
During his acceptance speech at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony last November, Richie warned his family that he plans to keep working hard for the foreseeable future.
“I want to let everyone know that I am probably not coming home for quite a while. I’m in love with this business. I love what I do,” he said.
He told Red Online that turning 70 “was a leap and a number I hadn’t quite got myself ready for,” but now he’s adjusted and forging ahead without worrying about how old he is or how much time he has left.
“As long as you don’t lose the spark and passion then age doesn’t matter,” he said. “Death is going to be a surprise to me because I’m not making any plans for it.”