The Rise of the “Black Beatles”
It was in 1968 that the two future musicians (Thomas McClary and Lionel Richie) created a band, and this was the beginning of friendship and music that was to last for years to come.
The creation of the band happened in Alabama at Tuskgee University and the band’s name was The Mystics and with time, more members were added. By this period, the name of the band had been changed to Commodores. The new group consisted of six members and was a convergence of two independent home groups- The Mystics and the Jays. Lionel Richie was the lead singer as well as the saxophonist for the band while Thomas McClary was known for his guitar playing abilities.
The pairing of these two resulted in a series of hit singles and smash hit albums. The members of this band were determined to fetch a name for the group in that would later impact the world of music. They had grown up in the times when bands like Miracles, The Temptations, and Supreme ruled the scene, and this made them determined, to get recognized and be at par with such bands.
Establishment of the Commodores
It was Suzanne de Passe- the A.&.R executive of Motown who attended a performance of the Commodores that changed the fate of this band for the good. The group got the opportunity to tour with Jacks on 5, and it was after three years that the Commodores got to work with The Rolling Stones, The O’Jays, and The Temptations.
Jumping to the year 1976 in the band’s career, there was still a lot of struggle faced by the members to expand their music, and they faced a lot of problems. Meanwhile, Lionel Richie’s musical creations were rising on the charts as well as Thomas McClary’s solo performance in the band – “Easy” was regarded as one of his best guitar performances.
The Inevitable Split
It was in 1982 that Richie decided to leave the band and pursue an independent career in music. It was the frictions within the group as well as the stifling environment where all the band members wanted to produce their own music which led Lionel to quit first followed by McClary in November 1984. There was no ill will between any of the band members as they understood the reasons for quitting. William King in an interview had said that Richie was family for them and would always remain a Commodore.
The Friendship Continued…
Even after parting ways and carving a niche for themselves in the field of music – Thomas McClary and Lionel Richie came together to create music and enthral the world with their creations. The famous – “Thin Walls” and the soundtrack named “Endless Love” which he co-wrote with Richie is a testimony to their never ending saga of friendship that started from their college days and continued even when things got tough. The essence of their friendship could be felt through these co-creations.