The song “Lady” by the one-and-only Kenny Rogers continues to make women swoon with the smooth combination of his velvety voice.
The song was released in 1980 on the album Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits, and it made history for being the first record of the 1980s to chart on all four of Billboard magazine’s singles charts: Hot Country Songs, Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary and Top Soul Singles.
It reached No. 1 on those charts in late 1980, except for Top Soul Singles, where it climbed no higher than No. 42. On the Billboard Hot 100, “Lady” reached the summit two months after it was released and stayed at the top for a remarkable six-week stint
The song is also listed at No. 60 on Billboard’s All-Time Top 100.
The Story Behind The Record-Breaking Hit
Written by another music legend, Lionel Richie, “Lady” is an incredibly well-written story of undying love.
“Lady, I’m your knight in shining armor, and I love you. You have made me what I am, and I am yours. My love, there’s so many ways I want to say I love you. Let me hold you in my arms, forevermore,” the song goes.
In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone, Richie recalled the genesis of his first collaboration with Rogers, which resulted in not only a breakthrough hit but as well as a lasting friendship between the two.
“I’m not used to pitching songs, but I had this song called, ‘Baby,’” Richie said. “I land in Vegas, and all I prepared is the first verse, the way I would normally do it for the Commodores.” Richie had originally pitched this song to the Commodores, but they turned it down.
Rogers’ former road manager, Garth Shaw, then picked up the story and told Rogers, “there’s some songwriter out here, and he wants to play you a song.”
Rogers immediately flew to Las Vegas to meet Richie and hear the demo. As Richie started playing an out-of-tune piano in the dressing room, Rogers began to talk to him about recently marrying Marianne Gordon, his fourth wife.
“I married a lady, a real lady,” he told Richie. “A country boy like me from Houston, Texas, what I am doing with a lady… she’s got such taste, such class, such style, and she’s such a lady. Oh, by the way, what’s the name of your song?”
“I said, ‘Lady,’” Richie laughingly said. “I’m no fool.”
Surprisingly, the rest of the song was written while in a bathroom of a recording studio on the day they were about to record the track.
“So, we’re in the studio recording the song, and I said, ‘Where’s the second verse?’” Rogers once recalled. “They said, ‘Lionel’s in the toilet writing it right now.’ I go, ‘What?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, he can’t write unless he has the pressure to write.’”
“It’s true,” Lionel also reminisced in another interview. “I was in the bathroom, on the counter, because I didn’t realize Kenny was going to get it so fast. So he said, ‘let’s do ‘Lady.’ Well, I hadn’t finished ‘Lady.’ I didn’t have the second verse. And I’m never going to live it down. He started sending toilet paperback and said, ‘Do you have the second verse.’ I said, “no, I got the second verse; just hold on for a minute.’ Kenny Rogers does it to me every time.”
Whatever they did, it worked. The success of “Lady” also boosted Richie’s career. In fact, he told Entertainment Weekly that it had been his most profitable song. “I have an estate that ‘Lady’ bought,” he said.
Richie performed “Lady” himself off his album, Time, in 1998, and he and Rogers performed the song as a duet on Richie’s album Tuskegee, released in 2012.
Anyway, tune in and watch Kenny Rogers’ incredible performance of “Lady” in the video below.