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In 2002, Richie told Billboard magazine, “When I put out ‘Endless Love’…during the days of disco, the reaction was, ‘Are you nuts?’” BB100 However, this unforgettable ballad from the completely forgettable Brooke Shields and Tom Cruise movie of the same name was the biggest hit Motown had up to that time, not to mention the biggest soundtrack single and most successful duet. BR1
It was also the most successful song of both their careers. This was no small task – between them, they contributed to 54 #1 songs on Billboard magazine’s pop, R&B, and adult contemporary (AC) charts. However, this song found the pair at very different stages of their careers. Ross spent the ‘60s fronting the Supremes, racking up 12 #1 pop hits and 8 #1’s on the R&B chart. When she went solo in the ‘70s, she hit the top of the R&B and AC charts five and three times respectively. However, “Endless Love” was her final Motown single WK and her last of six #1 pop hits.
Richie was also a Motown stalwart, but just launching his solo career. With the Commodores, he landed atop the pop charts twice, the R&B charts six times, and the adult contemporary chart once. “Endless Love” was Richie’s first time atop the pop, R&B, and AC charts – charts he’d top five, five, and eleven times respectively. As a songwriter, he had the top song of 1980 with Kenny Rogers’ “Lady.” WHC
Recording was no easy task. Richie hadn’t written the song as a duet, but there was a push to get Diana on the song. Since Richie couldn’t sing in her key, he had to make up her part in the studio. SF Their busy schedules meant they finally met up in Reno, Nevada at 3:30 in the morning after Ross had performed at Lake Tahoe. An hour and a half later, they had the song on tape. BR1 Good thing – it was due to go out the next day for use in the movie. SF
Ross also recorded a solo version on her Why Do Fools Fall in Love? album WK and in 1994, it became Luther Vandross’ biggest hit when he and Mariah Carey reached #2 on the pop charts in the U.S. and top 5 in the U.K.
Resources and Related Links:
- DMDB page for “Endless Love”
- Lionel Richie’s DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
- Diana Ross’ DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
- BB100 Billboard (9/08). “All-Time Hot 100”
- BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 547.
- SF Songfacts.com
- WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 109.
- WK Wikipedia.org