Mercury NashvilleIn the beginning of 2012, few could have predicted that one of the best-selling albums of the year would be a country album...by Lionel Richie. Actually, it wasn't as crazy an idea as it sounded. After all, Richie had written country hits for Kenny Rogers and Alabama. So Mr. All Night Long teamed up with country music's biggest names, including Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and Kenny Chesney, to re-record his biggest hits as duets. The result was Tuskegee, named after his Alabama hometown.
After some hard-core promotion, Tuskegee debuted at #2 -- just behind the latest release from fellow '80s icon Madonna -- and then fell to #4. However, in its third week it rose to #1, making Tuskegee Lionel's first chart-topping album since 1986's Dancing on the Ceiling. The disc went platinum in just five weeks, and by mid-year, it was the second-biggest-selling disc of 2012, with sales surpassed those of Richie's last three studio albums combined. Tuskegee also hit #1 on the Country Albums chart and on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The only other artist who'd ever topped both of those charts is the late Ray Charles.
In a statement, Lionel said, "This album continues to amaze me and I am so grateful for all that it has accomplished...When I came up with the idea for Tuskegee, I didn't want to be confined by boundaries of age, genre or demographics. I am thrilled with how well this album has been received by people from all walks of life. It is truly living up to the vision we had when we created it."
Tuskegee ended 2012 as the ninth biggest album of the year, according to Billboard. It out-performed high-profile releases by pop stars such as Justin Bieber, Maroon 5's and Pink.