Rock Hall Special: Manager Bruce Eskowitz On Lionel Richie’s Universality

Dancing On The Ceiling: Lionel Richie played Glastonbury Festival’s Pyramid Stage in Sunday’s Legend spot in June 2015, drawing the biggest crowd of the event with more than 100,000 fans in attendance. Photo by Alan Silfen

Whatever your mood, Lionel Richie has a song for you. Yearning for a love interest you’ve been pining over? “Hello” is just the tune. Going through a breakup but feeling as carefree as a lazy Sunday morning? Put on “Easy,” which Richie wrote while a member of the Commodores. Feeling like raising the roof and having some fun? It doesn’t get much better than “All Night Long (All Night).” Or maybe you’re feeling lovey-dovey and in need of a classic romantic ballad. Richie has plenty to choose from, whether it’s “Endless Love” or the Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning “Say You, Say Me.”

“His songs are the soundtrack of the world today,” says manager Bruce Eskowitz of Red Light Management, who has worked with the singer, songwriter and record producer for over 10 years. “I’ve been everywhere in the world with him, and everybody knows the songs. And they sing them back to him.

“So many people got engaged, got married to these songs. How many times have you been to a wedding and they’ve played ‘Endless Love’ or ‘Stuck On You’ or ‘Truly’ and all these incredible songs that Lionel’s written? They touch people’s hearts because the lyrics are so heartfelt and meaningful.”

Over the years, Richie has brought his treasured collection of pop, R&B, funk and soul hits to life in a legendary way, from closing out the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles to rocking the Pyramid Stage’s “Legends Slot” at 2015’s Glastonbury in England in front of more than 100,000 fans.

“Glastonbury a few years ago was incredible. It was the largest crowd of [the festival],” Eskowitz says. “There was an area set up in the back called Shrinel Richie … And then when he did ‘Dancing on the Ceiling,’ the entire security team broke into a choreographed dance.”

In the past decade, Richie’s made the rounds at major events across the globe, including playing New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in April.

“Whether it’s Outside Lands or Bonnaroo or Austin City Limits or any of the many festivals throughout Europe, he’s seen his music embraced by such a wide audience of people of all ages,” Eskowitz says.

Richie continues touring at a high level. Following the global “All the Hits, All Night Long Tour” from 2013 to 2015, he embarked on the “All The Hits” tour with Mariah Carey in 2017 (grossing $17.9 million over 22 shows) and the “Hello” tour in North America in 2019 (with an average gross of $596,700 per show). In 2022, he’s played headline dates on both sides of the Atlantic, along with extending his sold-out residency at Wynn Las Vegas’ Encore Theatre.

As for what’s next, Eskowitz says, “[With] touring we have big plans next summer, both in Europe and in North America. He’s working on a book for the first time and he’s doing a documentary on the making of ‘We Are the World.’” Plus, he’ll continue with his Vegas residency dates and “American Idol,”on which he’s a judge.

“This is his sixth season,” Eskowitz said. “That takes up quite a bit of time, but it’s a joy to try and pass the knowledge that he’s gained on to younger people about the business.”