Funk and soul band the Commodores emerged from the Tuskegee Institute in the late 1960s to become a widely known and popular Motown act. The ensemble, which included future solo artist Lionel Richie, spent its early years playing on what was known as the “Chitlin Circuit,“ a series of small venues open to African American musical groups in the South for almost exclusively black audiences After spending weekends and holidays performing around Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, the group achieved national success in 1974 with their first album, Machine Gun, which sold more than 500,000 copies. Moving towards Richie’s slower, ballad style, the group recorded the number one hit “Three Times a Lady” in 1978. In the 1980s, the band experimented with more funk and rock, and Richie left the Commodores to pursue a solo career. The Commodores were inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1995.
Photos courtesy of: Getty, Alabama Department of Archives and History