Evan Agostini, AP
Kenny, who is among the artists performing duets with Lionel on the just-released pop-country hybrid album, 'Tuskegee,' tells the Associated Press that he knew he wanted to be involved in the project, so he determined which song he wanted to claim and reached out to the pop superstar -- after a few bottles of wine.
"I just decided that I was going to call Lionel and tell him I wanted to sing on his record," Kenny recalls (quote via sfgate.com). "It was a pretty spirited voicemail, I can tell you that, because I actually sang the verse and like half of the song of 'My Love' onto his voicemail."
Lionel does his best Chesney impersonation when recounting the voicemail to the Country Vibe: "'Lionel! Oh my God, Lionel! Oh my God, oh my God! My Love ... [singing] My looove, just thinkin' about ... Oh Lionel, I love you. I love you Lionel, I love you!'
"The next day, he called me on the phone and he said, 'I'm sorry I drunk dialed you, but I had to tell you how much I love you'," Lionel recalls. "I said, 'I know how much you love me, Kenny.'"
A Top 5 hit on the pop chart in 1983, 'My Love' originally featured the backing vocals of another guest on 'Tuskegee,' Kenny Rogers, who reprises his massive 1980 pop hit, 'Lady,' written by Lionel for his longtime friend.
"When I first brought the idea [of 'Tuskegee'] to the record company," Lionel tells The Boot, "the first question they asked me was, 'What song is Kenny going to do?' It was just understood that he was going to be on it. He's the mascot of the whole thing! In most cases where a person writes a song for an artist, you hear them say 'thank you very much,' and they go on and take their bow. Kenny actually walked out on stage at the American Music Awards [in 1981] and said, 'I couldn't have done this song without my dear friend, Lionel Richie, who wrote the song.' And the moment the camera panned to my face, I had a career. I thought I was retiring as a Commodore! I will never forget that."
Other guests on 'Tuskegee' include Shania Twain, Tim McGraw, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, Blake Shelton and more.