Three Times a Lady

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"Three Times a Lady"
Three Times a Lady by Commodores US vinyl.jpg
A-side label of the U.S. vinyl single
Single by Commodores
from the album Natural High
B-side "Look What You've Done to Me"
Genre Soul
6:36 (12")
Label Motown
Songwriter(s) Lionel Richie
Producer(s) James Anthony Carmichael & Commodores

"Three Times a Lady" is a 1978 song by American soul group the Commodores for their album Natural High , written by lead singer Lionel Richie. It was produced by James Anthony Carmichael and the Commodores.


It was the Commodores' first number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, topping the chart for two weeks on August 12, 1978, and also reached number one on the soul chart for two weeks. [1] It was the only Motown song to reach the top 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 that year. The song also spent three weeks at number 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. [2]

The song also reached number 1 on the Canadian RPM Singles Chart for four weeks, and was one of only a few Motown singles to reach the top spot in the UK Singles Chart, staying there for five weeks. [3] It was also successful in Ireland, staying at number 1 for three consecutive weeks. It was number 1 in Australia for five weeks, and reached number 2 in New Zealand.


As a student at Tuskegee University, Lionel Richie joined friends to form the band The Commodores. The group primarily performed funk and party songs written by band members. Richie had grown up in a household full of varying kinds of music. [4] His grandmother, Adelaide Foster, taught classical piano, and he was also inspired by the country music that was ubiquitous in Alabama. [4] [5]

At a party to celebrate his parents' 37th wedding anniversary, [6] Richie's father toasted his mother, Alberta, saying "She's a great lady, she's a great mother, and she's a great friend." [4] The toast inspired Richie to write a waltz, "Three Times a Lady", which he dedicated to his wife, Brenda. [4] [5] As Richie later told Dick Clark, the toast caused him to realize, "I haven't taken the time to tell my wife thank you. How many guys are in the same position?" [7] Richie did not believe that a waltz would fit The Commodores' musical style, so he wrote it imagining that it would be sung by Frank Sinatra. [4]

As the band prepared to record the album Natural High, group members presented various songs that they had written. Richie played "Three Times a Lady" for producer James Carmichael, with the warning that he intended to pitch the song to Sinatra. Carmichael insisted that the song be added to The Commodores' album. [4]


In the United States, "Three Times a Lady" was the first of two singles off of Natural High. [8] It entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart on June 18, 1978 at number 73. Eight weeks later, it reached number 1, where it remained for two weeks. [6] It also reached the top of the R&B chart, soul, and country charts. [8] [5] The song was the first number 1 single for The Commodores, [6] and the first of their songs to be a top 10 hit in the United Kingdom. [8] The song eventually reached the top of charts in the United Kingdom, the Philippines, South Africa, and Canada, and was in the top 5 on charts in 25 other countries. [5]

The original Commodores' version of the song was included as the final track on Lionel Richie's greatest hits compilation album Back To Front , released in 1992.


The song was a "smash hit" [4] which launched The Commodores into a higher level of fame and notice. In large part due to the popularity of this song, the band was named the top R&B group of the year by Rolling Stone , Billboard, and Cashbox . Billboard also named them the number 3 pop group of 1978, making them one of the historically few non-white performers listed. [5] "Three Times a Lady" was nominated for two Grammy awards, for Song of the Year and for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus. [9] The song won a 1979 American Music Award and a People's Choice Award. [10]

Many other artists reached out to Richie, asking him to write songs with them. Richie at first turned them all down, but eventually agreed to work with country singer Kenny Rogers. The collaboration resulted in Rogers' hit song "Lady". [8]

Chart performance

Year-end charts

Chart (1978)Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) [11] 8

All-time charts

Chart (1958–2018)Position
US Billboard Hot 100 [12] 315


"Three Times a Lady"
Single by Conway Twitty
from the album Lost in the Feeling
B-side "I Think I'm in Love"
ReleasedNovember 1983
RecordedFebruary 1–2, 1983
Sound Stage Studio, Nashville, Tennessee
Genre Country
Label Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s) Lionel Richie
Producer(s) Jimmy Bowen, Conway Twitty
Conway Twitty singles chronology
"We Had It All"
"Three Times a Lady"
"Somebody's Needin' Somebody"

See also

Related Research Articles

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Commodores are an American funk and soul band, which were at their peak in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. The members of the group met as mostly freshmen at Tuskegee Institute in 1968, and signed with Motown in November 1972, having first caught the public eye opening for the Jackson 5 while on tour.

Lionel Richie American singer, songwriter and musician

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