Lionel Richie receives AMA Icon Award at 2022 AMAs; Stevie Wonder, Charlie Puth pay tribute

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 24: Singer Lionel Richie performs at The Voice Health Institute's "Raise Your Voice" benefit at the Beverly Hills Hotel on January 24, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Voice Health Institute)

Lionel Richie made history at the American Music Awards in 2022.

Richie, 73, accepted the AMA Icon Award on Sunday night, making him the only artist to perform on the AMA stage in every decade since its inception, according to People. According to a press release, the award is “given to an artist whose body of work has made a global influence over the music industry and the world.”

Smokey Robinson presented him with the award, jokingly recalling how he first met the “Stuck On You” singer as “the guy with the biggest afro in the Commodores.”

Robinson, 82, joked that they’d grown accustomed to signing autographs as the other person because fans frequently misidentified them:

“He’s had a solo career second to none… Simply put, there have been few careers that have had as much diversity as Lionel Richie.”

Richie thanked his family, colleagues, and fans in his acceptance speech. He also addressed the “young superstars” in the audience and gave them unsolicited advice.

He said:

“What I want to say and take this time to do is to talk to the young superstars. God has given you a light. That light is special, that light is only given to a few. When you hear the word ‘hip,’ it means today. When you hear the word ‘inspiring,’ it means forever. If you get a chance to have that light on you, understand what God has in store.”

He continued:

“He’s not trying to tell you that your car looks great, your clothes look great. He/she/mother/God is trying to tell you that you are chosen to inspire. Take this opportunity. That light is on you. Inspire.”

On Twitter, people reacted to Richie’s award and congratulated him.

One commented:

“Him and Smoky and Stevie [Wonder] were the best part of the entire awards show! That’s why I waited till the end to watch.”

Another added:

“[The AMAs were] so good, and he’s an icon in music [and] also an ‘American Idol’ judge.”

A third person wrote with red rose emojis:

“So wonderful.”

Stevie Wonder and Charlie Puth took the stage after Richie’s speech to pay tribute to him. They took turns singing portions of Richie’s biggest hits on the piano, which Puth jokingly compared to a “Lionel Richie copyright musical tennis match.”

Wonder, 72, added:

“This is a great night because we’re here to honor a great man.” 

Richie’s “Three Times a Lady,” “All Night Long,” “Brick House,” and “Jesus Is Love” were all covered by Wonder. Puth sang “Easy” and “Say You, Say Me.”

Robinson, Melissa Etheridge, Ari Lennox, Jimmie Allen, Yola, Dustin Lynch, and Muni Long eventually joined them. They finished the show with “We Are The World.”