80’s icon Richard Marx tells how Lionel Richie discovered him while he was in high school, called his home out of the blue

Eighties pop sensation Richard Marx is spilling the tea ahead of the release of “Songwriter,” the singer’s first album in eight years.

Best known for his swooning ballads “Right Here Waiting” and “Hold On To the Nights,” the prolific songwriter has filled the coffers in recent years by writing music for other musicians. NSYNC and Luther Vandross have Marx to thank for their hits “This I Promise You” and “Dance with My Father.”

Marx credits his success to pop-superstar Lionel Richie who through a fluke heard a demo by the Illinois native while Marx was still in high school.

“I had written a handful of songs; I’d made little demos of them on a cassette tape,” Marx said, as reported by the New York Post. “Somehow they got in the hands of Lionel. Not only did he listen to it, but he sees that there’s a phone number on the back of the cassette, and he calls my parents’ number. Lionel f – – king Richie takes the time to call some kid in Chicago and say, ‘You’re really talented. You should come out to LA.’”

Following graduation, Marx moved to Los Angeles and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I can’t say enough about what that did for me,” said Marx. “[Richie’s] the most class-act, kind, genius legend you’ll ever meet.”

Marx started singing back up and worked with some of the day’s biggest stars, including Whitney Houston and Madonna.

Hired to sing on Madonna’s “True Blue” album, Marx fell for the “Like a Virgin” singer but she thought he needed a tan.

“She was like, ‘has your skin ever seen the sun?’” Marx said of Madonna. “And I start sort of semi-flirting with her. And I end up having the biggest f – – king crush on Madonna. I fell in love with her on that afternoon.”

But it was another celebrity who inspired the hit “Right Here Waiting,” and that was “Flashdance” actress Cynthia Rhodes, who became his wife in 1989.

“I’ve not seen Cynthia for, like, seven or eight weeks, and I know I’ve got another seven weeks to go, and I’m madly in love with her,” he said. “And I just wrote that song in 20 minutes.”

His new wife, MTV VJ Daisy Fuentes, was the muse for “Always,” a piano-laden love song written with Burt Bacharach — the 94-year-old composer behind “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “(They Long to Be) Close to You” and “That’s What Friends Are For.”

“I’m supposed to go to his house to write with [Bacharach]. The night before I get this call from him, saying, ‘Can you send me the lyrics? I write [music] to lyrics,’” Marx, 59, said. “I write the complete opposite way. I write music, and then I write lyrics to the music. So I start sweating, and then I said, ‘Can you give me a couple hours?’”

“Songwriter” is divided into four genres: pop, rock, country and ballads. It features collaborations with the who’s who of music, including Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Chris Daughtry, and his sons Lucas, 30, and Jesse, 28.

“My sons grew up watching how much I love what I do, and I’m sure that that was a big influence on them,” said Marx, whose son Brandon, 32, is also a musician.


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