"Mr Richie, there's a Mr Zombie at the door": That time Rob Zombie and Lionel Richie teamed up on a filthy remake of a '70s funk anthem

Rob Zombie and Lionel Richie
(Image credit: Ray Mickshaw/WireImage for Universal Music Group)

When Lionel Richie gave a shout out to Rob Zombie on this weekend's edition of American Idol, and hailed the musician-turned-movie director as "one of my dearest friends", fellow judge Katy Perry appeared shell-shocked, and mildly disgusted.

"What?" Perry spluttered. "Rob Zombie and Lionel Richie hang out?"

As Perry was only nine-years-old in 2003 when Richie and Zombie collaborated on a cover of The Commodores' 1977 single Brickhouse - described by Entertainment Weekly as a "paean to pneumatic hotties" - we shall forgive her incredulity. But yes, the unlikely Richie-Zombie bromance goes way back, which is why the pair joined forces for one of the musical highlights of the soundtrack to Zombie's House Of 1,000 Corpses horror film. 

Richie spoke about the collaboration to Rolling Stone in 2003. 

"When Rob called me on the phone he was so nervous," Richie told Rolling Stone (as subsequently reported by Blabbermouth). "I said, 'Rob, why do you seem nervous?' He said, 'Just come over.' And he played this track for me, and it blew me away. He Zombarized it. Under no circumstances was he thinking The Commodores.

"And I said, 'Give me a microphone man . . . you can't have 'Brick House' without some howse in it. You're not saying howwwse right.' Well he fell out laughing. The next thing we knew, we were slapping hands. And he said, 'Man, this is gonna scare people to death.'"

"When he first came by the house," Richie continued, "my housekeeper answered the door and said, 'Mr. Richie, there's a Mr. Zombie at the front door.' He showed up, this long hair, dark glasses, dark beard, blue jacket, ripped pants, red-toed combat boots, and I love the question my housekeeper asked . . . 'Where would you like me to put him?' I said, 'Let him in the living room'."

Richie's vocals were not his only contribution to the collaboration, for it was the soul/R&B legend who suggested to Zombie that the new version of the track could benefit from some divine female energy, and a little modern-day smut.

"We knew we needed someone who was mean and nasty and dirty," Zombie told Entertainment Weekly. "And that’s where Trina came in."

Miami-born rapper Trina, self-identifying on the track as "the baddest bitch", doesn't hold back, claiming that she keeps gentlemen "hotter than a missile, when I'm doing my thizzle", before the interlude er, climaxes, with a series of orgasmic "harder... harder..." porno moans from another young lady.

"There’s a freak-show element to it," Zombie explained to Entertainment Weekly. "It is so ridiculous, and Lionel knows it too. It’s so wrong that it ends up being so right."

Watch Zombie, Richie and Trina perform a slightly less-NSFW version of the track on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on April 1, 2003 below.

Rob Zombie seems to have been rather chuffed with his American Idol shout-out from his pal, as evidenced by the Instagram post below. "So wild" indeed.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.