(In addition to the GRAMMY Awards, The Recording Academy presents Special Merit Awards recognizing contributions of significance to the recording field, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award.)
Oh my God — I am a fan. No, no, let me rephrase that: I am a huge fan. The Brill Building: birthplace of the sound and songs that shaped a generation of music and influenced countless more. This wonderful place where composer Barry Mann and lyricist Cynthia Weil first met and tried their hand at crafting songs together — a decision, I might add, sparked by destiny — is where they fell in love, married and wrote more than 50 hit songs together over the next four decades.
Now, one hit song — from my point of view — one hit song is great! But 50 hit songs? Now that is amazing! My favorite song of theirs, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (written with Phil Spector and performed by the Righteous Brothers), was the most played song of the 20th century, with more than 8 million plays.
I can remember the first time I met Barry and Cynthia. I showed up at their house knowing I had a good melody and a good idea for a title, but I needed help. My title was "Strangers In The Night." Cynthia said to me, "Would you be upset if I change the title to 'Running With The Night'?" And after a few blows to my ego, I said, "Sure." The rest … is history.
Barry and Cynthia are the masters of their craft and to be recognized with this prestigious honor, well, no one can be more deserving of this award than the two of them. I have admired them for years and I am happy to call them my friends.
(GRAMMY-, Oscar- and Golden Globe Award-winning singer/songwriter Lionel Richie co-wrote his 1983 Top 10 hit "Running With The Night" with Cynthia Weil. Richie has won four GRAMMY Awards, including Song Of The Year for 1985's "We Are The World," which he co-wrote with Michael Jackson.)