By Kirsten Fleming September 21, 2013 | 6:00pm
Lionel Richie has been hitting the gym and working on his stamina. After all, the 64-year-old just embarked on a monthlong North American tour, “All the Hits, All Night Long,” last Wednesday.
“You work out your stamina, you work out your brain,” Richie tells The Post. “And then you realize that no matter what you put out there, the crowd will add the rest of the excitement to it.”
On Tuesday, the Grammy winner will bring his most beloved hits to Barclays Center.
“There are days when you’re thinking, ‘I just don’t feel like singing [songs like] ‘All Night Long,’ ” he says. “And then you walk out on the stage, and the adrenaline hits, and you forget about what you’re thinking. [The audience] can’t wait to sing along with me. And it becomes contagious.”
It’s been 30 years since the former Commodore released the iconic “All Night Long” off his second solo album, “Can’t Slow Down.” The song has become a cultural phenomenon: Richie performed it at the 1984 Olympics closing ceremonies, it was used in numerous commercials — including for General Motors and Mountain Dew — and was even parodied on “The Simpsons.”
Bob Rafelson, who directed the 1970 Jack Nicholson film “Five Easy Pieces,” helmed the video.
In honor of the tune’s birthday, Richie divulges five things you didn’t know about “All Night Long.”
1. The title was inadvertently inspired by a Jamaican gynecologist.
“It was the first time I’ve ever written a song where I didn’t have a hook. It took me months to find one,” says Richie. “If the song is called ‘Easy,’ you write ‘easy’ first. Then you work from there. I wrote everything — ‘Well my friend, the time has come,’ ‘Fiesta, forever’ — and I still didn’t have a hook.”
After nearly three months of struggle, the singer had a eureka moment when dining with his friend Lloyd Greig, a Jamaicanborn physician. “I was leaving his house, and I said [in a Jamaican accent], ‘I’m going back to work all night long.’ Then I said, ‘Wait a minute. “All Night Long.” ’ He looked at me like I was nuts. Sometimes, by not thinking, you find exactly what you want.”
2. The African-sounding lyrics are gibberish.
“That is a wonderful joke,” Richie says of the lyrics. “ ‘Tam bo li de say de moi ya, Hey Jambo Jumbo.’ ” He had called a friend at the United Nations to get some African phrases. “The guy said, ‘Lionel, there’s 101 African dialects.’ ” When the singer asked for just a few words, he was told it would take a few weeks. But Richie needed them immediately — so he churned out his own dialect.
“Somewhere in that made-up language, I am actually saying something, because even to this day, we’ll play India, and someone will tell me, ‘Yes, you’ve touched on certain words in [our language].’ As long as I am not cursing you out, I am going in the right direction.”
3. The song is used to teach English to children in China.
Photo: Zuma Press
“We just got back from Shanghai, where we played ‘Chinese Idol,’ ” says Richie, who was floored by the audience’s command of his lyrics. “They told me they teach English in the schools with my songs. It’s part of the curriculum. ‘Hello,’ ‘Say You, Say Me’ and ‘All Night Long.’
“They said the first time they heard American music was in 1984 or ’85. The government has to allow you in, and certain artists’ music is considered risqué. But for some reason, even with ‘Endless Love,’ I squeaked right in.”
4. The video helped break race barriers on MTV.
When the music channel started, MTV brass didn’t think black artists were rock ’n’ roll enough to play. “MTV told Michael Jackson and Prince and me that we were not MTV material,” Richie explains. “Meanwhile, they did a vote, and ‘All Night Long’ came up as the top video. It wasn’t supposed to be part of their format.”
5. Luciano Pavarotti loved it.
“I sang with him and wrote a song for him,” Richie says of the late opera legend. “The first thing he said was, ‘ “All Night Long” is my favorite song.’ I’m proud of that.”