Lionel Richie's 1st Wife Brenda Harvey — Facts about 'American Idol' Judge's Former Wife of 18 Years

American Idol Judge Lionel Richie has been married twice, and here are some fascinating facts about his first wife, Brenda Harvey, who he was married to for 18 years.

Lionel Richie married Brenda Harvey-Richie in 1975, and in 1993 the duo divorced. Earn the Necklace reports that the singer had met Brenda in College.

Musician Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey attend Share Boomtown Party on April 28, 1984 | Photo: Getty Images

Musician Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey attend Share Boomtown Party on April 28, 1984 | Photo: Getty Images

They both attended Southern Normal School, Tuskegee University, where she graduated with a degree in social work in 1974.

Harvey currently still owns the rights to most of Richie’s classics through her publishing house, Brenda Richie Publishing, which she established in 1993.

Musician Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey attend the 58th Annual Academy Awards on March 24, 1986 | Photo: Getty Images

Musician Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey attend the 58th Annual Academy Awards on March 24, 1986 | Photo: Getty Images

A year later, she and her college sweetheart, Lionel, tied the knot. The couple lived separately in 1986 before eventually getting divorced in 1993.

During the marriage, however, according to Earn the Necklace, the couple informally adopted the daughter of one of Richie’s drummers, Peter Michael Escovedo, when she, Nicole was two, as a result of reported financial difficulties.

The little girl was later legally adopted by Harvey and Richie in 1990 at age nine, and she became known as Nicole Richie.

Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey attend Share Boomtown Party on May 1, 1985 | Photo: Getty Images

Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey attend Share Boomtown Party on May 1, 1985 | Photo: Getty Images

Nicole, who is now thirty-nine years old, is married to Good Charlotte singer, Joel Madden and they have two children, making Lionel and Brenda grandparents.

Asides Nicole, the 70-year-old singer, has two biological children who he fathered with his second wife, Diane Alexander.

According to Heavy, Harvey maintains a cordial relationship with her ex-husband’s children, Miles, and Sofia, regularly commenting about them on Facebook. Heavy further notes that “she even shares throwback pictures with Miles and Sofia.”

Lionel Richie and Diane Alexander attend the 24th Annual American Music Awards on January 27, 1997 | Photo: Getty Images

Lionel Richie and Diane Alexander attend the 24th Annual American Music Awards on January 27, 1997 | Photo: Getty Images

So there might be no bad blood between the singer’s ex-wives and their kids. However, it has always not been so.

A Heavy news piece recalls that Lionel had been dating Alexander, “a dancer who appeared in his 1986 Dancing On The Ceiling music video” before he filed for divorce from Brenda two years later.

The piece stated that Harvey had discovered Richie’s affair when she suddenly showed up at Alexander’s Beverly Hills apartment and met him there.

Musician Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey attend 11th Annual American Music Awards on January 16, 1984 | Photo: Getty Images

Musician Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey attend 11th Annual American Music Awards on January 16, 1984 | Photo: Getty Images

According to news reports, the discovery led to a scuffle, and she ended up getting booked on “suspicion of causing corporal injury to her spouse, trespassing, resisting arrest, vandalism, battery and disturbing the peace in the neighborhood.”

She was released on a $5000 bail. Despite their somewhat dramatic relationship history, Brenda Harvey-Richie & Lionel Richie are still friends.

Lionel Richie accepts award during the Celebrity Fight Night gala celebrating Celebrity Fight Night In Italy benefitting The Andrea Bocelli Foundation and The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center on September 7, 2014 | Photo: Getty Images

Lionel Richie accepts award during the Celebrity Fight Night gala celebrating Celebrity Fight Night In Italy benefitting The Andrea Bocelli Foundation and The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center on September 7, 2014 | Photo: Getty Images

According to Earn the Necklace, Harvey currently still owns the rights to most of Richie’s classics through her publishing house, Brenda Richie Publishing, which she established in 1993.

In fact, in 2019, he admitted to US Weekly that he would be spending mother’s day with his first ex-wife, Brenda, as they have a family reunion planned.

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