Richie’s 1982 self-titled debut contained three hit singles: the U.S. #1 song “Truly”, which launched his career as one of the most successful balladeers of the 1980s, and the top five hits “You Are” and “My Love”. The album hit #3 on the music charts and sold over 4 million copies. His 1983 follow-up album, Can’t Slow Down, sold over twice as many copies and won two Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, propelling him into the first rank of international superstars. The album contained the #1 hit “All Night Long” a Caribbean-flavored dance number that was promoted by a colorful music video produced by former Monkee Michael Nesmith. In 1984, Richie performed “All Night Long” at the closing ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Several more Top 10 hits followed, the most successful of which was the ballad “Hello” (1984), a sentimental love song that showed how far Richie had moved from his R&B roots. Richie had three more top ten hits in 1984, “Stuck on You” (#3), “Running with the Night” (#7) and “Penny Lover” (#8). Now described by one critic as “the black Barry Manilow”, in 1985 Richie wrote and performed a suitably soothing theme song, “Say You, Say Me”, for the film White Nights, winning an Oscar for his efforts as well as reaching #1 on the U.S. charts and staying there for four weeks, making it the #1 song of 1985 according to Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 chart. He also collaborated with Michael Jackson on the charity single “We Are the World” by USA for Africa, another #1 hit.