Lionel Richie Opens Up about His ADHD Diagnosis and Its Impact on His Career


Key Takeaways
– Lionel Richie confessed to having ADHD, impacting both his personal and professional life.
– Richie suggests that his long-undiagnosed condition contributes to his success.
– Richie’s latest documentary, “The Greatest Night in Pop,” premieres on Netflix on January 29.
– Richie linked his creativity to ADHD, giving him a unique perspective as a songwriter.

Music legend and “American Idol” judge Lionel Richie, 74, recently revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The multifaceted artist admitted his condition often causes distractions, leading to occasional clashes with colleagues. However, he also credits it as a significant factor in his success journey.

ADHD, Daily Distractions, and Creativity

Richie, who has been bogged down with multiple projects, including concert tours and a new documentary premiere at Sundance Film Festival, likened his lack of focus to “trying to get two 3-year-olds to sit down and focus.” He admitted to Hollywood Reporter’s Rebecca Keegan that the act of procrastination driven by his condition sometimes frustrated his collaborators. However, it also helped him remain spontaneous and creative in his work.

From Utah, Richie is gearing up for the premiere of his Netflix documentary dubbed “The Greatest Night in Pop,” scheduled for January 29. The film traces the creation of the historic 1985 single “We Are The World,” which Richie co-wrote with Michael Jackson.

Anecdotes from the Making of ‘We Are The World’

Gracing the American Music Awards less than two weeks before its delivery, Richie and Jackson were to pen down the lyrics of the iconic number, recorded by 46 leading musicians of the time. However, they frequently delayed writing the song. The single eventually raised over $60 million for famine relief through the organization USA for Africa.

The Child Mind Institute defines ADHD as a psychiatric syndrome characterized by attention difficulties and behavioral organization challenges. Results may range from distractability to poor organization skills. Richie gave insight into his experience with the disorder, mentioning that having a deadline keeps his focus intact. Undetermined timelines, however, tend to divert his attention.

Daydreaming Into Songwriting

Richie, soon to return for his seventh term on “American Idol,” confessed to being a highly distractible child, often found daydreaming. In an interview with the Tribune News Service in 2022, he shared the link between his daydreaming habits and his knack for songwriting.

In a 2008 interview with Gulf News, Richie shared that ADHD made him hypersensitive, enabling him to transform his emotions into words effortlessly. To him, this condition made for a ‘lousy lawyer but a great songwriter.’

Influence of ADHD on his Career

When Lionel Richie received the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2022, he shared the secret behind his music: his drifting mind allows him to “receive” lyrics for his hit songs. The acclaimed musician’s ADHD diagnosis reveals the long-standing challenge he’s overcome and the unique perspective it lent to his creative process. Despite its hurdles, Lionel Richie champions ADHD as a driving force in his prolific music career.