Lionel Richie was saved from a pit of despair following his divorce by listening to his own songs.

The Hello hitmaker was plunged into a dark depression in the mid-1990s following the death of his father and the breakdown of his marriage to first wife Brenda Harvey.

A friend handed him a tape of music to help him make sense of his loss, and Richie was stunned to discover it was full of his own songs.

He tells British newspaper the Daily Mirror, "I went through a painful period in my life when I lost my father and got divorced at the same time. Then a friend said to me: 'Lionel, I have some inspirational tapes I want you to listen to'. He handed me my own songs with certain ones underlined and I started listening to my lyrics - this time from the point of view of someone who needed that message.

"My friend said: 'You already know the answers. You have done it for other people for years, it's time for you to listen to yourself'. I used to look out into the audience and wonder why that guy was crying to one of my songs and now I get it - it just hits something in your core."