Belfast Telegraph

Richie: Jackson didn't have a real life

Lionel Richie has shared some memories of Michael Jackson as it comes up to the sixth anniversary of his death.

The King of Pop died six years ago this month aged 50, of acute propofol intoxication. He was good friends with Lionel, who still thinks about how unusual Michael's life was. He was a child star thanks to appearing in the Jackson 5 alongside his brothers, and Lionel finds it upsetting that he never managed an everyday life.

"He never got to hang out as a normal kid, playing soccer, going to school, having a first kiss. He didn't have a 'real'," Lionel told British magazine Hello! "His 'real' was, 'Hey, Lionel. I bought a monkey.'"

The two stars were friends for years and even worked on music together. They famously co-wrote We Are the World which raised money for famine relief in 1985 and penning the track is still vivid for Lionel.

"Who knew it was going to be that big? We were talking about doing something - 'Let's save the world, Lionel,' Michael said - and the next thing we knew, the song was global and we made a big difference," he marveled. "I think it was at that moment I realised the power of song and celebrity. There are people who are less fortunate and need help and that's where I am. The songs I've written over the years were given to me for a reason."

With so many great memories of his time with the singing legend, Lionel is still struggling to accept his passing. It happened around the time of the now 65-year-old star's birthday, which made it even harder to get over.

"It's my birthday on 20 June and I'll never forget that year - I decided to delay my party because Michael was rehearsing for his big tour," he recalled. "He only lived a block and a half away and I wanted our kids to get together so I told him I would put it off until the weekend. But that was the week that Michael died."

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