Louie Shelton Recalls Impressing Lionel Richie By Going Against His Wish

Renowned guitarist Louie Shelton recently shared his experience working with Lionel Richie in an interview with Rock History Music. Shelton revealed how he came up with an unforgettable guitar solo and how Richie had an instinct about it becoming a hit song.

Hello,‘ released in 1984, is a classic song from Lionel Richie’s second solo album, ‘Can’t Slow Down.’ Louie Shelton played the memorable guitar solo in a spontaneous studio session, creating a version that Richie instantly loved. The song went on to top charts around the world, proving that Richie’s instincts were spot on.

In the interview, Shelton recalled how he initially played the solo that Richie had hummed, but neither of them were satisfied with it. Taking matters into his own hands, Shelton improvised a new solo on the spot, which caught Richie’s attention as he walked into the studio. According to the guitarist, Richie immediately recognized its potential, exclaiming that it sounded like a hit record.

Here is what Louie Shelton recalled about creating ‘Hello’s guitar solo:

“That was probably one of the most spontaneous things that ever happened to me in the studio. I had a message that Lionel was looking for me because he wanted me to do a solo. When they were recording the track, Lionel was laying down on a guide vocal, and when it came to the solo, he hummed a solo that he said he wanted the guitar to play. They had given that solo to three other guitar players, and they came in and recorded what he hummed. He didn’t like it.

So, I went down to record the solo. They sent me a cassette with that thing that Lionel hummed, and I learned it. I went down to record it, and Lionel wasn’t there yet. So, we set up my amp and all, and I recorded that solo that he hummed. I didn’t like it either; it didn’t translate to guitar. I said, ‘Give me another track and let me just give you another option. And the solo on the record is the next thing that I played.”

He continued:

“I had never thought about it and never considered it other than that moment right there. Lionel walked in, he had heard it as he was coming down the hall, and he said, ‘Man, I don’t know what I heard coming down the hall, but it sounded like a hit record to me.‘ And he was thrilled with it; he was finally happy with the solo. I said, ‘Well, it’s not what you hummed.’ He said, ‘Oh, no, that’s not what [I wanted], the next thing you played; that’s what I wanted.

Looking back, it’s clear that Lionel Richie’s intuition about Louie Shelton’s improvised solo was right on the money. The song ‘Hello’ has since become a timeless classic, resonating with audiences across generations. As it seems, Louie Shelton’s creativity has a great share in the song’s success.