Pop Culture | Celebrities | 80s

The Lionel Richie Love Triangle That Literally Got Him "Drop-Kicked"

The arrest of Brenda Harvey-Richie was a big scandal in the '80s, and to this day there are still questions surrounding it. The now ex-wife of the iconic Lionel Richie was definitely arrested, but it's the why that got people talking.

Their Relationship

In 1975, Lionel married his highschool sweetheart, Brenda Harvey. The couple were the epitome of true love, and people thought they would last a lifetime. Together, the couple adopted their first child, Nicole. Nicole's biological parents were unable to provide for her, so when she was three years old, they agreed to let her move in with the Richies.

"My parents were friends with Lionel," she said. "They trusted that they would be better able to provide for me."

The couple were thrilled to have a child, but that's about where the happiness ended.

The Affair

In 1986, Lionel Richie began having an affair with Diane Alexander, who was a dancer at the time. According to friends, the couple met at the 1984 Olympics, where Lionel had performed "All Night Long" at the closing ceremonies. That performance that was seen by more than 2.6 billion people in 120 countries. She also appeared in his 1986 music video for "Dancing On The Ceiling."

Lionel and Diane were pretty hot and heavy for years, and according to neighbors, he snuck out to see her at her apartment constantly.

“He parks in the back and walks right by my window all the time," one neighbor claimed.

In 1988, Lionel Richie filed for divorce from Brenda. Clearly, she was not who he was looking for. Friends said that for a year before their official separation, Lionel and Brenda were living separately.

“It’s been pretty intense for the last year,” a friend said at the time. “Obviously, things aren’t too good at home.” But no one could have guessed just how "intense" things were about to get.

The Arrest

In what can only be described as chaotic at best, Brenda Harvey-Richie found herself in cuffs after confronting Lionel on his affair. Brenda must have had suspicions about her husband's infidelity, as she just so happened to show up to Alexander's apartment at 2 a.m., only to find her husband there.

Allegedly, Brenda drop-kicked Lionel in the "stomach area", which only makes sense if his "stomach" is about 6 inches lower on his body than everyone else (if you catch my drift). Lionel fled the scene, which is when Brenda turned her attention to Diane.

Neighbors called police after they heard "a woman screaming", and officials say they walked in on an assault in progress.

"Our officers arrived in less than a minute, observed suspect Brenda Richie striking and kicking the victim on the floor of the apartment," Lt. Robert Curtis said. "A second victim, entertainer Lionel Richie, later phoned and stated to officers he had been kicked in the stomach area by Mrs. Richie (at the apartment)."

“They were screaming and you could hear everything,” said Francies Devinney, a neighbor of Alexander’s. “Lionel was there, and it was obvious that his wife had just found him with Diane. His wife was really, really mad. Glass broke and furniture crashed around inside. It sounded like she was killing someone. It wasn’t very civilized.”

Brenda's friend, Sandra Moss, described her as “very soft-spoken. She’s just the most adorable, caring, pretty, bright...I can’t believe she did this.” Though she may have been soft-spoken, she was clearly not soft-fisted.

“They had to push her down on her chest on the ground to get the cuffs on her,” another neighbor said. “She kept screaming for Diane to help her; she kept screaming, ‘Diane, don’t let them do this to me. Please, Diane.’”

Brenda Harvey-Richie was booked on suspicion of corporal injury to a spouse, resisting arrest, trespassing, vandalism, battery and disturbing the peace. She was released on $5,000 bail.

The Aftermath

Clearly, despite his wife's best efforts, Lionel didn't have endless love for Brenda. The couple divorced in 1993, and he went on to marry Diane Alexander in 1995. They had two kids together, Miles and Sophia, but that marriage ended eight years after it started.

Lionel Richie has gone on record saying that his ex-wives have ruined marriage for him, and that he has no intention of ever getting married again.

"I've no idea to go there a third time - women have killed it for me," the entertainer said in 2016. "Kids aren't the problem - ex wives are. That's why I won't marry again, but I'm happy to commit in other ways."

Do you remember hearing about the arrest?