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    Lionel Richie and Wife Splitsville

    So much for endless love: Lionel Richie and wife Diane are calling it splits.

    The "Hello" crooner is saying goodbye to Diane Alexander, a former dancer and fashion designer, after a sometimes rocky seven-year marriage.

    In separation papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Richie and Alexander cited the usual "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the split. The couple, who have a nine-year-old son and five-year-old daughter, tied the knot in 1996.

    But they initiated their affair much earlier, when Richie was still married to his first wife, Brenda.

    The "Three Times a Lady" singer was caught by the then-missus during a romantic encounter with Alexander at a Beverly Hills apartment. Brenda Richie went ballistic and was arrested for investigation of spousal abuse, trespassing and vandalism--but the charges were later dropped. After sticking it out for another three years, she and Lionel divorced in 1991.

    A publicist for the 54-year-old Richie could not be reached for comment Thursday.

    Richie, who got his start in Motown fronting famed '70s R&B group the Commodores, went solo in the early '80s and scored a string of chart-busting hits, including "Truly," "Hello," "All Night Long," "Say You, Say Me," "Penny Lover," "Stuck on You," "You Are" and "Running with the Night."

    The '80s pop fixture and five-time Grammy winner also cowrote with Michael Jackson the USA For Africa benefit song, "We Are the World," which topped the charts in 1985 and raised millions of dollars for famine relief.

    But he had been largely off the musical radar until recently.

    In June, he was honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame for his contributions to music. He also appeared as a guest judge on American Idol earlier this year to promote his best-of compliation, The Definitive Collection. Richie's hit solo Motown albums--Lionel Richie, Dancing on the Ceiling and Can't Slow Down--have also been remastered and reissued with bonus tracks in recent months.

    In related Richie news, the entertainer's 21-year-old daughter with Brenda, Nicole Richie, isn't exactly dancing on the ceiling herself these days. The younger Richie, who will make a star turn with fellow socialite Paris Hilton in Fox's upcoming riches-to-rags reality series Simple Life, set to debut in December, is cooling her (high) heels in rehab after a run-in with police.

    Richie pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges of heroin possession and driving with a suspended license after a traffic stop last February. She was sentenced to probation on the license count and ordered to attend rehab.

    If she stays on her best behavior, she will likely avoid jail time on the drug count. Sentencing for the crime will come after she finishes her drug treatment.

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