Return to Transcripts main page
PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Interview with Trayvon Martin's Parents; Life, Love and Lionel Richie
Aired March 28, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, a primetime exclusive, the parents of Trayvon Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: Our son was just a teenager. He wasn't doing anything wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Seeking answers and justice. And fighting back charges that Trayvon was the aggressor.
And truly the one and only Lionel Richie. From "Dancing on the Ceiling" to "Hello", he's the ultimate hitmaker. The songs, the sensational collaborations, the fame, his daughter Nicole and a surprising reinvention as a country singer. My exclusive with a music icon.
Plus, "Only in America," a failing grade. Then harmless words. Arguably one of the worst school decisions of all time.
This is "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT."
Good evening. Our "Big Story" tonight, Trayvon Martin shot at close range. But was it self-defense? I'll get his parents' reaction and extraordinary new video from the night of the shooting. Our primetime interview with Trayvon Martin's parents in just a moment.
Also, Lionel Richie, the pop icon joins me to talk music, politics, race and Trayvon Martin. And he's back in the spotlight with a hit country music album (INAUDIBLE) a chance. We'll have a lot to talk about including a story behind this classic video.
But, first, our "Big Story," Trayvon Martin, and other news details have emerged since the night he was killed. With me now in a primetime exclusive, Trayvon's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, along with family attorney Benjamin Crump.
First of all, to Tracy and Sybrina, thank you so much for joining me. I send you my deepest and sincerest condolences on the loss of your son. I can only imagine that as every day has gone on with the whole world now scrutinizing everything that happened, the pain for you must just worsen and for that I just send my sincere sympathies. FULTON: Thank you.
MORGAN: And I know that you've seen this -- I know that you've seen this video now in the last few minutes. It shows George Zimmerman at the police station. What is your reaction to this video?
FULTON: We just looked at the video and we were just surprised of -- because, according to the police report, he sustained injuries, Zimmerman sustained injuries, but when we looked at the video, it was obvious that there were no visible injuries. There were no blood on his shirt. So we have concluded just by watching this video that there may not have been any injuries at all.
MORGAN: I mean, what we don't know is exactly the time of this video. We don't know how many hours after the incident it was -- it was filmed. Having said that, we can see demonstrably that there are no obviously serious injuries. He was alleged to have had a broken nose and he seems to be walking very freely. Later in the video you see him walking across without any problem. He doesn't look like somebody to a dispassionate observer who has been beaten up.
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: It's certainly been to me -- and it amazing, if in fact he had a broken nose, how he continued to keep his head down and anyone that knows one who had a broken nose, your nose will continue to bleed and bleed and bleed until it gets fixed.
MORGAN: Let me ask Benjamin Crump, who's your lawyer, for the legal perspective on this video. How significant is this from a legal point of view?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Piers, this is -- smoking gun. This clearly shows that that police report was a fabrication. When they say there was blood on the back of his head, there was a broken nose, he had blood on it. You don't see any of that. And we're looking at this, and it's obvious to us that there was something that night that they conspired to cover this up, to cover up the death of Trayvon Martin.
Now we are glad that all America could say because Tracy and Sybrina have been every night agonizing about the killing of their son, free sleeping in his own bed, while their son is in the grave, and the police for doing whatever they can do to protect Zimmerman. It just doesn't make sense to anybody.
MORGAN: I want to play you a clip of an interview I did last night with Joe Oliver, who is a friend of George Zimmerman. Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE OLIVER, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FRIEND: Sadly, for the Martin family, it's -- it was Trayvon that we lost. But we've also lost George, too. I mean he will never be the same man. He will never be the kind, giving, caring human being that we've always known and loved. I mean he is -- he is so distraught about this, he has been diagnosed with PTSD, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression. He can't sleep, he can't eat. He cried for days after this happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Sybrina, let me ask you for your reaction to that.
FULTON: It just shows that there is a human side contrary to what we believed but there is a human side to George Zimmerman. We are crying, too. We are agonizing, too. It just hurts deeply just to hear this. And if I had shot and killed an individual, I'm sure I would be crying also and I would feel remorse and things like that, too, because I had taken a human life, a young human life.
MORGAN: I mean, from everything that you have seen, that you've read, that you've heard, what do you believe is the most likely set of circumstances that led to your son being killed?
FULTON: I believe that George Zimmerman hunted my son like an animal, tried to detain my son. My son tried to get away and because he could not detain my son, an altercation ensued and my son was shot and killed.
MORGAN: And, Tracy, do you believe that there was a racial element to this? Because Joe Oliver, again, a later clip from the interview which I won't play you, but I can tell you what he said. He basically implied that George Zimmerman didn't have a racist bone in his body. There certainly wouldn't have been any motive for him to done what he did.
MARTIN: I most certainly don't know Zimmerman's character. What I do know is that my son was racially profiled. I know that. The whole world knows that. And as far as him being a racist, I really don't know him. I've never had an encounter with him so I can't speak on that matter. But I can speak on the facts and the facts are George Zimmerman did racially profile Trayvon Martin.
MORGAN: Sybrina, do you believe if your son had been white and George Zimmerman had been black, that he would have been arrested, George Zimmerman?
FULTON: I absolutely believe that my son would have been arrested. It wouldn't have been an explanation he could have given the Sanford Police Department to ensure that he would not go to jail. They would not have listened to that. They would have arrested him and let them -- let him plead his case in a court of law. I don't believe that he could have shot someone if -- I don't believe he could have shot someone and went home that same night.
MORGAN: I mean, let me turn to perhaps your lawyer here, Benjamin Crump, again. On the "Stand Your Ground" law, what seems extraordinary? Everyone is saying, look, we have to wait now for the investigation to run its course before any arrest can be considered and yet of course the investigation was effectively conducted on the night and we now know ABC News reporter for multiple sources, the lead investigator in the case recommended that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter after the shooting, but the state attorney's office overturned this, said there wasn't enough evidence. So the investigation was basically done and dusted in a matter of hours.
CRUMP: Piers, you know, we have the 911 tape that we hear with our ears. We now have this video that we see with our eyes. We don't need anything else to know that there was some kind of conspiracy to sweep Trayvon Martin's death under the rug. It is real clear, we can believe our eyes and we can believe our ears now that the lead investigator was right when he said it doesn't added a up.
He didn't think it was credible and for some reason the state attorney, the police chief and the chief who's acting chief at Sanford Police Department made a decision to ignore the evidence we see, to ignore the evidence we hear, and to ignore commonsense. Trayvon Martin had a bag of Skittles. George Zimmerman, this armed vigilante, had a 9 millimeter gun.
MORGAN: Let me ask you, Sybrina, I mean, as Trayvon's mother, you've seen a lot of vigilante groups now. We've seen this group called themselves the New Black Panther Party, putting a bounty out now for George Zimmerman and so on. Emotions are running high, you know, temperatures are getting very, very dangerously high here.
What is it, as his mother, that you would like to see happen next?
FULTON: I would like George Zimmerman arrested immediately. That's the first and foremost thing that we want right here for this case, is we need an arrest.
MORGAN: And do you believe that the video that's emerged tonight should lead to that arrest on the basis that the story that's been put out here in George Zimmerman's defense, that he was being beaten so badly he feared for his life, cannot, as this video would suggest, be true?
FULTON: I believe that this video is the icing on the cake. This is not the first part of the evidence that they have had. They have had the 911 tapes and they have also have witnesses. This is in addition to what the Sanford Police Department already has. This video is clear evidence that there is some problem with this case and that he needs to be arrested.
MORGAN: Tracy, if you had the chance to speak to George Zimmerman right now, what would you say to him?
MARTIN: I would ask him why did he in fact pick out my son, what was going through his mind that night, do he realize he's destroyed an innocent child's life? My son had a future. My son was not one of these thugs in the night.
He was loved. And I just want -- I would just ask him, why did he in fact take my son's life and how does he feel about taking my son's life?
MORGAN: And Sybrina, many believe that you are suffering perhaps even more now since losing your son by the attempt by some people to assassinate his character, to bring out all this stuff about his behavior in school and so on which portrays him in a very damaging light. What do you say to that?
FULTON: It bothers me as a mother to hear all of those negative things about my son. I knew Trayvon. I lived with Trayvon. And I know what he's capable of doing and I know what he's capable of not doing. And it just -- it just hurts us to know that people are trying to damage his name. They murdered him. They are trying to murder his reputation. And I've said that before. And it's just painful to me as a mother.
MORGAN: Well, Sybrina and Tracy, and to Benjamin Crump, thank you very much for joining me this evening. I hope you find justice. I hope you find some peace from this because it must be an ongoing agony for you. And our hearts go out to you. They really do. But thank you for spending your time with us this evening.
FULTON: Thank you.
MARTIN: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: The killing of Trayvon Martin has sparked a national dialogue on race. And this Friday CNN's Soledad O'Brien hosts a town hall meeting tackling the tough questions, "BEYOND TRAYVON, RACE AND JUSTICE IN AMERICA." That's Friday night at 8:00 Eastern.
Coming up next, Lionel Richie is back with his brand new take on the greatest love songs ever.
MORGAN: You know the song, the 1977 hit "Easy." But did you know the original title was "Leave Me Alone?" Surprising given that he's written a song with the man behind some of the best love songs of all time, Lionel Richie. Now 35 years later, Lionel is back and going country with a new album called "Tuskegee." And he joins me now.
LIONEL RICHIE, SINGER: You pronounced that perfectly.
MORGAN: I did.
RICHIE: Yes, you did.
MORGAN: Last time I saw you, we were in a restaurant in Los Angeles singing at midnight "Penny Lover" together. With Jason Statham.
RICHIE: I mean what kind of group was that? By the way, I want to tell you, don't give up your job.
RICHIE: Stay right where you are. Do not move.
MORGAN: It wasn't that bad.
RICHIE: It wasn't that bad.
MORGAN: It was fueled with Jack Daniels.
RICHIE: I was going to say --
MORGAN: There was a certain richness to my voice.
RICHIE: I wasn't going to go there but, since you did.
MORGAN: You're looking disgustingly in good shape.
RICHIE: Well, you know, I think as long as I can look disgustingly wonderful after what my children have done to me, I'm doing all right. Trust me.
MORGAN: Before we come on to your remarkable twist now, the country music and your incredible career, I just wanted to get your reaction to the interview I just conducted with Trayvon Martin's parents. What did you make of what they were saying?
RICHIE: You know, I'm a parent. How I approach this is just everyone take the race card out for a moment. If you received a phone call saying your child was shot and killed because he looked suspicious, armed with a cell phone, and the other guy has a gun, the next thing is, did he have any kind of markings on him that said security, so your kid thinks someone's chasing him.
I mean, this is just how I feel. And then you can't really get an explanation as to what really happened. Don't put a color on that. Just imagine. And now the outrage that is happening is if this was just a one off situation, it would be wonderful. You know it would be something we can investigate. This is a common occurrence in the black community and so I understand now the outrage of trying to find out it looks so obvious what it is, we just can't get it -- we can't get them to say that.
MORGAN: I mean there were several issues at play here. One is the apparent race issue which I think may be a slightly miscued way of approaching this because --
MORGAN: You know, George Zimmerman, you know, he's not a white guy. It's not a -- it's not a white man killing a black man. So in a conventional sort of incident that sparked this kind of outrage before, that doesn't quite work. What you have is an extraordinary law in Florida, "Stand Your Ground," which entitles anybody, if they feel that their life is in danger, to shoot somebody.
RICHIE: Yes, but do they have a stalking law? In other words, what I'm saying to you, the kid felt, I'm sure -- I don't know who this guy is that is following me. We don't know if he identified himself as a security guard. We don't know this. And so I can only say that if it were my son, I would be -- I would be terrified to think of what he went through. You know, I don't know the circumstances. We don't know. But it's just one of those situations where every parent in America, in the world would say, what happened?
MORGAN: It's really important, it seems to me, that you have to allow the legal process to take its course.
RICHIE: I know.
MORGAN: George Zimmerman may well have been attacked. We just don't know the video -- it doesn't help his cause because people who are watching that video tonight, as I did, and as you did, I'm sure, are saying, well, where are his injuries that caused him to believe he was being -- apparently his nose broken, his head thrown on the floor. It doesn't look like that has happened, doesn't it?
RICHIE: Is it attacked or is it fighting for his life? I don't -- we don't -- we can skew it the other way. I mean if someone pulls out a gun and you're not sure whether you're being mugged or whether you're being apprehended, we don't know this. And so I'm sure without the proper, you know, investigation, we will never really know what those few seconds were.
MORGAN: Doesn't the nature of "Stand Your Ground" as a law just frighten you as an American? Doesn't it make you think, this can't be right, this law? Because it's so vague. The idea that George Zimmerman wasn't even arrested on the night is what appalls people. They're like, he shot a guy who's unarmed. Even if they had a fight. Doesn't give you the right to pull out a gun and shoot him in the street, is it?
RICHIE: We're bringing back the Wild West. In other words, we have enough going on right now to where fear, people don't trust, and all of a sudden now you put on top of that "Stand Your Ground," which means you're saying that in case you feel any fear at all, you can stand your ground and shoot someone else. I mean, if you have a gun, you can justifiably shoot someone and say, I was feeling fear.
MORGAN: There are gang leaders now apparently who are using this as a legal excuse to get off killing other gang members. This is ridiculous.
RICHIE: It's ridiculous. And I think what we have to do is take nine steps back and go back to human. We have to use commonsense here, Piers. And I'm telling you, as a parent you've got to look at this, I wouldn't want my kid on the street anymore. What is suspicious? What classification is that? Is that racial profiling? Suspicious. What does that really mean?
Every kid I know in the world has a hoodie. You know? I mean, I go -- we walk in Beverly Hills every day. I mean, excuse me, every kid in Beverly Hills has a hoodie. You know? Are they going to be deemed suspicious and what is that going to really mean for this world that we live? And of course in Florida I think that law should be thrown out without a shadow of a doubt.
MORGAN: You grew up in the south. RICHIE: Yes.
MORGAN: You've spoken before that your parents protected you from racism. Tell me about that.
RICHIE: It was interesting. I was born and raised on Tuskegee university or Tuskegee Institute campus. It's exactly 38 miles away from the lap of the Confederacy, in Montgomery, Alabama. But if the Klan marched any night, they would put us to bed early. So we didn't really know what that felt like, at least my generation. You know, and when you have people like the Tuskegee airmen, that were brought up on -- that's where they station, that's where they were from.
You know, PhDs, doctors, lawyers, it was a different world. And so they trained us basically that everything was available to you. I did not know that we had a problem with where can we go to get a job? Everything is available. Everybody was a doctor, a lawyer, they were all there. Because segregation made Tuskegee so powerful and every other university, Morehouse, Fisk, they were all little Meccas of very intelligent people because segregation was in and no jobs were available outside of those little townships.
MORGAN: When was the first time that you realized there was racism in America?
RICHIE: I experienced it for the first time with the Commodores. The first time I knew about it was certainly on the March on Washington. I was old enough now to understand that, the march on Montgomery. Because we had a college student that was living with us that actually went to that.
I was too young to participate. But he would come back and tell me all about it. And of course when you see these huge policemen with the dogs and the spray and the horses, and everyone is there, you know, unarmed, you know, and it was quite -- it was impactful to me. I remember as a kid I kept thinking, where are we going with this. And then I think when it really hit home for me was I had a chance to hear Malcolm X speak on the campus and he dealt with the issue in a very philosophical way.
I thought it was brilliant. He said, don't you think times are getting better and the answer was, if you stick a knife in the man's side and you pull it out halfway, is it better? Only until you pull the knife all the way out and the wound heals is it better. And I kept that as my mantra throughout my growing up. That all we're doing right now is rehashing exactly what my mom and dad went through, my mom and dad's parents went through, and now here we are in the next, next, next generation, talking about the same issues of insensitivity, racial profiling, it's the same. It's the same identical story, just a new generation.
MORGAN: Let's take a break. I want to come back and talk a bit more about this. I want to see whether you think America is more or less racist since it got its first black president and also talk about Whitney Houston, your great friend who so tragically died recently.
And the song, "Hello," let's get to "Hello" at some stage of the interview.
RICHIE: Come on. I got to tell you about "Hello."
MORGAN: I want to hear it.
RICHIE: Piers, just stop.
MORGAN: Come on, Lionel. Sing to me, baby.
RICHIE: Just stop. Just stop it.
MORGAN: Sing to me. I'm feeling it.
RICHIE: Security. Security.
MORGAN: It's me you're looking for. It's me. Somebody just tweeted. Red Devil 234, "If Lionel starts singing, for god sakes, don't join in."
RICHIE: See, that's my point.
RICHIE: Save yourself. Save yourself.
MORGAN: When you look at "Hello," it's such an iconic song. I mean for men of my age, Lionel, I have to be honest, you know, we owe you a great debt of thanks and gratitude.
RICHIE: I am here to help you.
RICHIE: Yes. But I --
MORGAN: You did more for our efforts to seduce women than any singer in my generational lifetime.
RICHIE: I am going to tell you a fact, OK? I get more compliments from men than I do women.
MORGAN: I know you do.
RICHIE: And by the way, they don't talk. Women will walk in and tell me, I was engaged, I fell in love, we had children, we got married. Guys have one signal they give me. They go, Lionel. You understand?
MORGAN: I understand.
RICHIE: That says it all.
MORGAN: I understand. RICHIE: You understand me? And I tell them all the time when they come to the show, listen, I know -- I know this is a bit over your head, but lean over to your girlfriend and say, isn't he amazing?
RICHIE: And then you, I, I am going to sing to her. You're going to take her home. Think of it. It's all over. Did I get that right? That's good. That's good.
MORGAN: It is moving me even now, Lionel.
RICHIE: Am I moving you?
MORGAN: The thing about you was you had all the Commodore stuff. And that's enough for most people. That's a body of work.
RICHIE: I was going to retire as a Commodore, exactly right.
MORGAN: You could have just retired as a Commodore with the greatest body of work of seduction love songs in all time. And then you go on in this solo career, and you explode to a higher plinth of love poetry.
RICHIE: Is he annoyed
MORGAN: No, I remain grateful.
RICHIE: Oh, yes, yes, yes. Surprisingly enough, I was thinking of -- the catalog with the Commodores, I'm pretty good. I am good to go.
Then all of a sudden a guy came along called Kenny Rogers, "Lady," and then "Endless Love" right behind that, and then of course, the doors blew off with "All Night Long," "Hello," and all that.
MORGAN: What is the one -- if I said right, Lionel, you've got five minutes left to live. You can sing one of those songs before you die. Which one is it? Because I know which one it would be for me.
RICHIE: Really? OK, well, mine would probably be -- I would want to go out in a happy mood. "Hello" would not be it. "All Night Long" would be the one where I would just go, ba-boom. And if I had to reflect from the Commodore side, it would be "Easy."
MORGAN: Would it really?
RICHIE: It would be "Easy" or "All Night Long."
MORGAN: Mine would be "Penny Lover.'
RICHIE: Isn't that amazing, Kenny Chesney's favorite song is "Penny Lover."
RICHIE: And I would not equate "Penny Lover" to -- I rest my case.
MORGAN: It's weird. It was always "Penny Lover" for me. I don't know why. When I heard that song, the old body started to shake -- bump and grind.
RICHIE: One of disk jockeys said, this is Lionel's cheap -- cheap song.
MORGAN: What is the secret of singing love music?
RICHIE: You know what happens? I lucked out and found a topic that will never, ever go out of style: love. The entire world is looking for three corny words: I love you. Believe me, in 35, 40 years of writing, I have tried to find another way, they don't want to hear I like you, let's hang out, let's shack up, just for the night. It doesn't work like that.
I love you is forever. And so if you go, I love you, I want you, I need you forever, you have just sold a record. And the next thing is, they are trying to find guys who -- what's that word now? Compassionate. They want guys who are sensitive.
MORGAN: In touch with their sensitive side. Yes.
RICHIE: And so I have one dear friend of mine who finally gave her husband truly and said, copy the words down and just say it to me. He just had no sensitivity whatsoever.
MORGAN: Are you for real a sensitive, romantic, loving type of guy?
RICHIE: I am a hopeless romantic. And my problem is -- get this now, I was diagnosed -- I love this -- when I was a kid -- there was no ADD. There was no -- I was -- Lionel's overly sensitive is the word they used. And my mother was crying, oh my God, what do we do about this overly sensitive kid?
So I would have made a terrible lawyer, a terrible lawyer. But then once I started writing these songs, then it automatically made sense to me, because I kind of go in simplicity. The simplest way to say it is the only way people want to hear it.
MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love in your life?
RICHIE: God, you would ask that question. Probably three times. Probably three times. In my -- in my preschool class, I --
MORGAN: You remember that?
RICHIE: I do remember.
MORGAN: What was her name?
RICHIE: Do I have to say it out loud?
RICHIE: All right, I will. Andapass (ph) was her name.
MORGAN: Andapass? And how old was she?
RICHIE: And I should say there was one more. It was Darielle Watts (ph) is the other.
I'm now going to get phone calls. Oh, my God.
MORGAN: But these are your first loves?
RICHIE: These are the ones where you go, oh, my God. And why? She just said hello to me, you know. And then from there, of course, I married the second one. That was Brenda. And I married the third.
RICHIE: That was Diane.
MORGAN: So you married two of the three people you've been properly in love with?
RICHIE: Yes. But you have to understand, it takes a lot for me to jump the broom. And of course, now that I've been in Hollywood for a minute, I must tell you that it's gotten out of hand here a little bit.
MORGAN: In what sense?
RICHIE: Well, you think a little bit more before you say I love you. Or as I say to people every day, every time I say I love you, I lose a house. But -- but -- but now that Cinderella love is going to be absolutely something that comes along that you're looking for. You really are looking for.
MORGAN: What have you really learned about love?
RICHIE: That you have to throw yourself into it. I love that word, fall in love. If you're not falling in love, it means you let go. You have to let go. You can't control it. If you're not out of control and you know you're out of control when all of your friends will tell you, I wouldn't do that if I were you and you go, I don't care; I don't care is the key word to falling in love.
And you don't really mind what people say.
MORGAN: How do you keep love alive? How do you do it in your marriage?
RICHIE: Well, mine's easy. All you have to do is have kids. And then I celebrate the mother of my kids. So I'm a different kind of guy. Instead of celebrating the last three months -- there was the complete disaster of the marriage -- I celebrate the time, what was it when it was special. You follow me? And then once you become the mother of the kids, you will always be on that pedestal forever. So with me, I have a love affair with my family. And it took me 20 years for the first wife to speak to the second wife and --
MORGAN: Do they get on now?
RICHIE: Oh no, it's perfect. It's actually quite unusual that we are a tribe now. But I love it so much because our kids get to experience the family, the tribe.
MORGAN: That's quite special.
RICHIE: I love it. I must tell you, it's great for them to see us all interact.
MORGAN: Do you sing at these little tribal meetings?
RICHIE: Absolutely not. You know what it is? And I think you experienced the same. We are superstars until we come home, and then I am dad. And I love that.
MORGAN: I'm not even a superstar before I go home. This is where you and I are going to have a slightly different starting point.
RICHIE: Well, what I love most is that -- and it's a grounder for me. I actually have kids that missed the Commodores. I actually have kids that missed the '80s. And now I have grand kids, they don't know who the heck I am at all, which I am loving the most.
I am pop pop. I am pop pop. When pop pop comes in the room, we have show business.
MORGAN: I love this. Let's take another break. Let's come back and talk bout Whitney. I wanted to get to Whitney and see what you felt about the report that came out recently.
I also want to talk to you about the sculpture in the "Hello" video. Because I'm told there is a shocking tale to be revealed.
MORGAN: Let's hear it after the break.
MORGAN: Hello! That was terrible. That was terrible. I should stick to "Penny Lover." You are sweating. You've never revealed that first love story.
RICHIE: No. First of all --
MORGAN: You've been panicking the whole break.
RICHIE: I was doing fine until you said and who are they. I've never revealed that. That's preschool. These are preschool days. Do you understand? The whole town of Tuskeny right now is making phone calls --
MORGAN: I've got a great Tweet here, "watching Lionel Richie on PIERS MORGAN, what charisma, fascinating dude, love his funky stuff, not into the ballads."
RICHIE: Well you know what the answer is to that, don't you?
MORGAN: Go on?
RICHIE: I will tell you right now, he's not in love yet. OK, as soon as --
MORGAN: That is true. It's "Dancing on the Ceiling" until you meet the right girl.
RICHIE: I can tell you the reviews. There was a reviewer for years -- the reviews were sappy, syrupy, sticky, gummy. Here's Lionel again with another one of those songs.
And then all of a sudden, he reviewed me 20 years later, and he came back and said, "Lionel, do you have another one of those amazing ballads." And I said, oh, you're married now. He said, yes, two kids, Lionel. And my wife and I were married on "Truly." I mean, in other words, until you fall in love, you know nothing of what I'm talking about.
MORGAN: Have you ever made love to your own music?
RICHIE: You have asked me -- who is this guy? You mean my first love was not enough?
MORGAN: No. I need more from you.
RICHIE: The answer is absolutely not.
RICHIE: No, are you kidding me?
MORGAN: It would be a bit awkward?
RICHIE: I love it when someone says, you know, do you whisper? Of course I don't --
MORGAN: Who is the biggest romantic sexual singer you've ever deployed?
RICHIE: Holy cow. That's pretty interesting. Well, Marvin Gay.
MORGAN: Has to be?
RICHIE: Has to be. Marvin did it for me. You understand me?
MORGAN: I think I understand.
RICHIE: Yes. I -- did I say that right on national television? I mean, in other -- yeah, Marvin was -- Marvin --
MORGAN: Ever had a Barry White night?
RICHIE: Barry White and Smoky Robinson. You know what I'm saying? I'm kind of giving it to you. You known and --
MORGAN: And candle lit rooms?
RICHIE: You understand. Yes.
MORGAN: Let's get to the sculpture in the "Hello" video.
RICHIE: I figured you would.
MORGAN: Tell me about the sculpture.
RICHIE: Well, first of all, it was a nightmare. Everyone thinks, oh my God, it was this wonderful scene. No, no, no. I spent -- Bob Geraldi (ph), while we were filming this, during the video -- I kept following him around going, Bob, I saw the bust. It doesn't look like me.
He said, I'll talk to you later. We'll talk about it.
Now we're getting closer to the scene. I said, Bob, I want to talk to you. The bust does not look like me. And of course now we're shooting the scene. And I said, Bob -- he said, Lionel, she's blind.
MORGAN: I understand.
RICHIE: So immediately I said, I understand. I had to be sensitive again. I to get sensitive. But I hated the way it looked, OK? So immediately after -- I mean, 20/20 hindsight, I should have saved it and put in the house and made it part of the museum. No, no, no, as soon as it was over with, I just attacked it.
MORGAN: Attacked it. Let's turn to Whitney Houston. We talked on the night that she died. I was in the studio and you very kindly rang in. You were very emotional but also very eloquent about her.
Since then, a real picture has come through strongly to me. Natalie Cole said it again this week, and Chaka Khan and others, that the real problem for Whitney was when she lost the power of her voice. As a singer, have you been through that process? Is your voice as good as it was 20 years ago? Do you understand that?
RICHIE: I understand that. In fact, I have been through three surgeries, vocal surgeries. And while you're sitting there in silence, the question comes up, who am I? Who am I really? Without this voice, without me walking into a room and saying Lionel, hello, who are you? I did it that time. You like that?
MORGAN: That was better than mine. RICHIE: Yes, yes, but -- and you -- who are you really? And as an artist, you are defined by your voice. Now, let's look at when you first start. It's a young voice. As you get older, can you hit those same notes from 19 at 45? No. You take it down a half step.
Then by 50 and 60, you take it down a whole step. In other words, you're not as spot on as you're supposed to be.
MORGAN: What does the pressure of performance become like when you're going through that deterioration?
RICHIE: You are going through what we call panic, because we are perfectionists, or as I say, all artists -- we're egotistical maniacs with inferiority complexes. We want to take over the world. But at the same time, you know, 15 seconds after walking down that elevator to walk off the stage, and it's 30,000 people that said, we love you, in your head you go, I bet you I can't do that again, until you walk back up those stairs again and actually do it.
And each time you walk out there, you have to be perfect. You have to -- they are looking for you. You have to hit that note like you did on that record. If not, something's wrong. There's something wrong up here, too. And it happens to us.
And I watched it happen with Michael. You know, he had two problems. Had he to dance as well as hit the notes, you know. And it's a perfection thing.
MORGAN: And the reality is you get to 50 like he did, and Whitney was nearly 50, and you just -- your body and your voice will not be able to perform at the level as when you were 25.
RICHIE: Exactly right. And -- but we expect it and the audience expects it. Now if you can just -- let me say this right. If you can make friends with yourself -- that's what I had to do. I had to finally figure out one day, let me make friends with myself, because otherwise I will drive myself crazy.
It's called, I'll sing it a different way. Or what I do on stage some nights when I really don't think I can hit that note, I go, come on, and everybody since the song for me. Thank God I've got karaoke going.
But it really is a compliment to an artist if you realize the audience is singing with you.
MORGAN: The other way you can do is just to be, as I have proven tonight, always a terrible singer, and therefore there can be no room for deterioration.
RICHIE: See, that applies to you. That does not apply to me. But it's really something where we're a business of amazing talent and amazing tragedy. And what we have to understand sometimes is that the pressure that we put on each other, on ourselves -- and then if you can imagine, we are watching little vignettes of reality that we call entertainment now. It's the tragedy of life. To watch Whitney go the way she did, to watch Michael go the way he did, we are enjoying the entertainment of it instead of saying, we're watching a tragedy happen right before our eyes.
MORGAN: Very true. Let's take a final break, come back and talk country music. You have become, ironically, the new Kenny Rogers.
RICHIE: Hello. Hello. Did I say that? Come on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RICHIE: Now you did that one proper. I like that.
MORGAN: Say you, naturally. I could sing your stuff all night, Lionel. So Cassandra Shopshift (ph) has sent me a Twitter @PiersMorgan. "Great interview, loved the chemistry. I was married 11/11/11. I walked down the aisle to "Truly." There wasn't a dry eye."
You must have been played at more wedding, christening, funerals than anybody alive.
RICHIE: I can actually say this to you, that we had more three million copies of sheet music sold at that particular time, before we had the Internet. You could actually sell sheet music. So you know we took over. "Endless Love", "Hello," "Truly," come on.
MORGAN: Let's turn to country music. This is a brilliant idea, take your greatest hits and do songs with the greatest country stars: Shania Twain, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw. What a lineup.
RICHIE: Come on. Come on. You know what made it so wonderful is that someone said to me, are you going country? I said, no, no, no, I was born in the country. And country radio was radio when I was growing up.
The songs have already gone country. I'm just going back to claim my kids. That's all I'm doing. You know what's so brilliant about this? We filmed every session.
So we have every artist explaining where they were, what they were doing at the time they fell in love with these songs. So they're singing the songs that they liked.
MORGAN: Fabulous versions. Now I want everyone to go and buy this. It's Lionel Richie "Tuskegee" --
RICHIE: "Tuskegee." MORGAN: I keep getting it wrong. But it's a fantastic idea and a brilliant album. You just did a brilliant impression in the break there from the "We Are the World" video, where all these big stars had to sing one line. I said who sang the best line?
RICHIE: The one that I loved the most was, there's a choice we're making
MORGAN: Do you know what's comforting to me? It is comforting to me that right at the depth of this interview, I have rescued the situation, because your Bob Dylan impression is even worse than my Lionel Richie.
RICHIE: Can I tell you, I'll take that as a compliment, OK? Bob, you have nothing to worry about.
MORGAN: Lionel, this has been one of my favorite interviews that I have ever done for CNN. Please come back.
RICHIE: I promise.
MORGAN: -- before too long. I hope everyone goes and buys this. The album, as all your albums are, is brilliant. I love the country twist. Everyone will love this. I have loved it. I feel swathed with love after meeting you.
RICHIE: Can we hear that word again? Swathe.
MORGAN: I'm on a plinth of love for you.
RICHIE: I love that. I can't get my mouth to do it.
MORGAN: Can you just sing "Hello" to me? Just --
RICHIE: I sometimes see you pass outside my door hello, this is me you're looking for
MORGAN: It is me you've been looking for.
MORGAN: Lionel --
RICHIE: Pleasure, my friend.
MORGAN: Thank you so much. I can't even continue.
Coming up next, only in America, 50 banned words and why some educators don't want your kids to hear them. They should just listen to Lionel Richie. That's what they should do.
RICHIE: Write that down. Write that down.
MORGAN: Tonight Only in America, words, words, words. You have heard about George Carlin's seven words you can't say on TV. And I still can't say them tonight.
But believe it or not, there are 50 words you can't use on tests in New York City. That's right, 50 words that the Department of Education wants to ban from standardized tests.
The school's chancellor says they're just trying to make sure that test makers are sensitive. But these aren't the kind of words you might think.
Which words are banned? Dinosaur. What on Earth could be wrong with dinosaur? But apparently it might rile creationists. Of course. Silly of me.
Then there's Halloween, because of course that's a Pagan holiday. Can't be dealing with those, can we. Birthday is out because Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays. Really?
Of course the big D's, death, disease and divorce, could be upsetting. So they're out. No mention of homes with swimming pools, because that could make kids jealous. No politics, no rap music, no religion, no rock 'n' roll, which frankly means I could say absolutely nothing if the same rules applied to this show.
Now look, there are certain words that are hateful and hurtful. And they have no place in schools or in tests . but When it comes to the words on this list, perhaps the New York City Department of Education should go back to the wise old children's rhyme, "sticks and stones can break my bones, but silly words will never hurt me."
Tomorrow night, a man who just might use a bad word or two, the always outspoken, always fascinating Mike Tyson. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.