Return to Transcripts main page


The Trayvon Martin Tragedy; Music Icon Lionel Richie; Tiger's Coach in a Tell-All Book

Aired April 1, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, the families in the Trayvon Martin tragedy. I'll talk to both sides. Trayvon's parents and George Zimmerman's brother.

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 his surprising reinvention as a country singer. My exclusive with a music icon.

Plus the Tiger Woods' tell-all. He's back to his winning ways.

TIGER WOODS, CHAMPION GOLFER: It was one hell of a test out there today.

MORGAN: And he's not the only one talking. Tonight my primetime exclusive with Tiger's former coach about the firestorm surrounding his new book.


Good evening. The shooting death of Trayvon Martin has touched a nerve across America. The protests, the anger, the questions only growing. Trayvon was killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida. He's not talking, but lots of people are. This week they're talking to me.

I spoke to Zimmerman's brother, Robert, in a primetime exclusive. Here's what he said about the explosive case.


MORGAN: What did George tell you Trayvon Martin allegedly did to him?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, JR., BROTHER OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: What has come out that I can talk about today is that Trayvon Martin somehow snuck up on him and according to Mr. Crump, their own attorney, he was on -- we don't know if this is verifiable information, but he was on the phone with his girlfriend. I don't know if that's a police source, but I know his attorney at least holds up the girlfriend as a source and says Trayvon told him, no, I'm not running. I'm going to walk real slow.

And Trayvon went up to George and said the first thing to George. And there's some discussion about, did he say do you have a problem? Do you have a problem? Are you following me? Why are you following me?

MORGAN: What did George tell you he said?

ZIMMERMAN: One of those things. You know, do you have a problem with me? Following me, why are you following me? Something like that. My brother drew back to grab his phone in retreat to call again 911 and say well now, this person who I lost sight of and was not pursuing has now confronted me. That's what he did. He never got to make that call because he was attacked by Mr. Martin.


MORGAN: That, of course, is just one side of this tragedy. There's also Trayvon's family. Can't imagine what they're going through now. But I did speak a few days ago to Trayvon's mother and father and asked them what they would say to George Zimmerman.


MORGAN: Tracy, if you had the chance to speak to George Zimmerman right now, what would you say to him?

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: I'd 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. 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 up all this stuff about his behavior at school and so on which portrays him in a very damaging light. What do you say to that?

SYBRINA MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: 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 just to know that people are trying to damage his name.

They murdered him. They're trying to murder his reputation. And I've said that before. And it's just painful to me as a mother.


MORGAN: As I said, many people have very strong opinions about what happened to Trayvon and why. Including my guest, Lionel Richie. He's a pop icon. He sold more than 100 million albums. His latest a country record titled "Tuskegee." He's also a father. We covered a lot of ground on a wide ranging interview. But I began by asking him about Trayvon. And as you'll hear, he has some very important things to say about it.


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?

LIONEL RICHIE, NEW ALBUM, "TUSKEGEE": 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's happening is if this were just a one off situation, it would be wonderful. You know it would be something you could 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. And so --

MORGAN: I mean there were several issues at play here, aren't there? One is the apparent race issue which I think maybe a slightly miscued way of approaching this because --

RICHIE: Right.

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 the 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 their life's 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 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 circumstance. We don't know. But it's just one of those situations where every parent in America, in the world, would say what -- what happened?

MORGAN: I mean 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 are watching that video tonight as I did and as you did, I'm sure, and saying where are these injuries that caused him to believe he was being -- you know, apparently his nose broken, his head thrown on the floor. It doesn't look like that has happened.

RICHIE: But 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 -- he shot a guy who's unarmed. Even if they had a fight, that doesn't give you the right to pull out a gun and shoot him in the street, does 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 justify and shoot someone and say I was feeling fear.

MORGAN: Now 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 common sense 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 in? 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.


MORGAN: You have 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 clan marched any night they would put us to bed early. So we didn't really know what that felt like. At least in my generation.

You know, and when you have people like the Tuskegee Airmen that were brought up on -- that's where they were stationed. That's where they were from. You know, PhD's, 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 was 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, no jobs were available outside of those little townships.

MORGAN: When was the first time you realized there was racism? Aware of it?

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 a 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 are 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's got its first black president. And also talk about Whitney Houston, your great friend who tragically died recently. And the song "Hello." Let's get to "Hello" at some stage of this 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.

MORGAN: Really?

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: You're moving -- because I think about you -- 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: I mean you can just retire as a Commodore. With the greatest body of work of seduction and love songs of all -- in all time. And then you go on in this solo career. And you explode to a higher plinth.

RICHIE: You sound annoyed.

MORGAN: Of love poetry.

RICHIE: Is he annoyed?

MORGAN: No. Not -- I remain grateful.

RICHIE: Yes, yes, yes. Surprisingly enough, I was thinking of the catalog with the Commodores, I'm pretty good. I'm good to go. And 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 that.

MORGAN: What is the one? If I have said right now 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, my only problem would 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, kaboom, and if I had to reflect from the Commodore side it would be "Easy."

MORGAN: 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." And I --

MORGAN: There are lots of "Penny Lovers" out there.

RICHIE: I would not -- I would not equate "Penny Lover" to --

MORGAN: Yes, it's weird.

RICHIE: I rest my case.

MORGAN: It's weird. It was always "Penny Lover" for me. RICHIE: That's crazy.

MORGAN: I don't know why. When I heard that song, the old body started to shake. You know, bump and grind.

RICHIE: Yes. One of the -- one of the disk jockeys said this is Lionel's cheap song. Penny.

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."

MORGAN: It's true.

RICHIE: 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. Doesn't work like that. "I love you" is forever. 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 that they're trying to find guys who are -- what's that word now? Compassionate. They want guys who are sensitive.

MORGAN: In touch with their sensitive side.

RICHIE: Their sensitive side.


RICHIE: And so I have one -- I have one dear friend of mine who just finally gave her husband "Truly" and said copy the words down and just say it to me. So I mean, you know, he just had to sensitivity whatsoever.

MORGAN: Are you for real a sensitive, romantic, loving kind 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 -- you know. 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? And so I would have made a terrible lawyer. Terrible lawyer. But then once I started writing these songs, then automatically it 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: Do you remember her?

RICHIE: I do remember.

MORGAN: What was her name?

RICHIE: Do I have to say that loud?


RICHIE: All right. I will. Anda Pass.

MORGAN: Anda Pass.

RICHIE: Anda Pass. It was that.

MORGAN: And how old was she?

RICHIE: And I should say there was one more. It was Dariel Watts is the other one.


RICHIE: I'm now going to get phone calls. All that -- my god.

MORGAN: But these are your first loves?

RICHIE: These are the ones where you go, oh, my god, you know? And why? She just said hello to me. You know? And then from there, of course, I married the second one. You know, that was Brenda. And I married the third.


RICHIE: That was Diane.

MORGAN: You married two of the three people you've been properly in love with.

RICHIE: Yes. But I mean 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 know, you think a little bit more before you say I love you.


RICHIE: Or, as I say to people every day, every time I say I love you, I lose a house.


RICHIE: But then -- but now, you know, that Cinderella love is going to be absolutely something that -- that comes along that you're looking for. You really are looking for it. 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 keyword 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 -- I celebrate the mother of my kids. So I'm a different kind of guy. Instead of celebrating the last three months that 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: And do they get on now?

RICHIE: Oh, no, it's perfect. I mean it's actually quite unusual that we are a tribe now. You know, but I love it so much because our kids get to experience the family. The tribe.

MORGAN: That's quite special.

RICHIE: Yes, 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.


RICHIE: No. You know what it is? And I think you experience the same. We are superstars until we come home. And then I'm dad. And I love that. And now I --

MORGAN: Well, I'm not even a superstar before I go home, Lionel.

RICHIE: Well --

MORGAN: This is where you and I are going to have a slight different starting point.

RICHIE: Well, what I love most is that -- it's a grounder for me. I actually have kids that miss the Commodores. I actually have kids that miss the '80s. And now I have grandkids, they don't know who the heck I am at all. Which I'm loving the most. You know, I am pop-pop. I am pop-pop. When pop-pop comes in the room, we have children.

MORGAN: I love this. Let's take another break. Let's come back and talk about Whitney. I want to get to Whitney and see what you felt about the report that came out recently. And I also want to talk to you about the sculpture in the "Hello" video.

RICHIE: My god.

MORGAN: I'm told there's a shocking tale.

RICHIE: The shocking tale.

MORGAN: To be revealed.


MORGAN: Let's hear it after the break.


MORGAN: Hello. I am back -- that was terrible.


MORGAN: 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? And I got never revealed that. That's preschool. These are preschool days, do you understand? The whole town of Tuskegee right now is making phone calls.

MORGAN: I've got a great tweet here. Watching Lionel Richie. What charisma. Fascinating dude. Love his funky stuff. Not into the ballads.


RICHIE: Well, you know the answer to that, don't you?

MORGAN: Go on.

RICHIE: Yes, I would tell you right now. He's not in love yet.


RICHIE: OK? As soon as --

MORGAN: That is true.

RICHIE: No. And listen, I could tell you the reviews.

MORGAN: It's "Dancing on the Ceiling" until you meet the right girl.

RICHIE: I could tell you the reviews. There was a reviewer for years. Reviewers were sappy, surpy, sticky, gummy. Here's Lionel again with another one of those songs. And then all of a sudden he interviewed me 20 years later. He came back and said, Lionel, do you have another one of those amazing ballads? And I said, you're married now? 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 people -- who is this guy? I mean, you mean my --

MORGAN: I've always wanted to know that.

RICHIE: You mean my first love was not enough? I mean --

MORGAN: No. I need more from you.

RICHIE: The answer is absolutely not.

MORGAN: Never?

RICHIE: No. Are you kidding me?

MORGAN: Would it be a bit awkward?

RICHIE: I love it when someone says, you know, do you whisper? Of course I do.


MORGAN: Who is the biggest, most romantic sexual singer you've ever deployed?

RICHIE: Holy cow. That's pretty interesting. Well, Marvin Gay.

MORGAN: Has to be.

RICHIE: It has to be. I mean, Marvin, Marvin did it for me, you understand me?

MORGAN: I think I understand you.



RICHIE: Did I say that? I'm on national television. I mean, yes. Marvin was -- Marvin --

MORGAN: Have you ever had a Barry White night?

RICHIE: Barry White and Smokey Robinson.


RICHIE: You know what I'm saying?

MORGAN: Yes, yes.

RICHIE: And I'm kind of giving it to you. You know?

MORGAN: Yes. And candlelit rooms.

RICHIE: You understand, yes.

MORGAN: Let's get to the sculpture in the "Hello" video.

RICHIE: I take that you would.

MORGAN: Tell me about the sculptor.

RICHIE: Well, first of all, it was a nightmare. Everyone thinks my god, it was this wonderful scene. No, no, no. I spent -- Bob Giraldi, 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. And 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.


RICHIE: You understand?

MORGAN: I understand.

RICHIE: So, immediately, I said, I understand. I had to be sensitive again. I had to be sensitive. But I hated the way it looked. OK? So immediately after -- I mean, 20/20 hind sight, I should have saved it and of course put it in the house and it'd have been a part of the museum. No, no, no. As soon as it was over with, I just attacked it.


MORGAN: 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. And you were very emotional. But also very eloquent about her. Since then, a real picture has come pretty 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 today as it was 20 years ago? Do you understand that? RICHIE: I understand it. I've been through three surgeries. Vocal surgeries. And while you are 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: It was better than mine.

RICHIE: Yes, yes. But -- and you, who are you really? 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: And 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, you know, 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, there's 30,000 people that said, we love you. In your head you go, bet 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 be -- they're 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. It happens to us. And I watched it happen with Michael. You know he had two problems. He had to dance as well as hit the notes.


RICHIE: You know, it's a -- it's a perfection thing.

MORGAN: And (INAUDIBLE) is you get to 50 like he did, and Whitney was only 50, you just -- your body and your voice will not be able to perform at the level of when you were 25.

RICHIE: Exactly right. 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 here because otherwise I'll drive myself crazy. You know? 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 sings 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 it is just to be, as I have proven tonight, always a terrible singer. And therefore there can be no room for deterioration. RICHIE: You see, that applies to you. That does not apply to me. But you know, 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.

That's the tragedy of life. To watch Whitney go the way she did, to watch Michael go the way he did, we're 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 and I'll come back and talk country music. You have become, ironically, the new Kenny Rogers.

RICHIE: Hello. Hello. Did I say that? Come on.


RICHIE: You did that one proper, I like that.

MORGAN: I could sing your stuff all night, Lionel. So Cassandra (INAUDIBLE) has sent me a twitter @Piersmorgan. "Great interview, I was married 11/11/11. I walked down the aisle to "Truly."

RICHIE: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: There wasn't a dry eye.

RICHIE: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: You must have been played at more weddings, christenings, funerals than anybody alive.

RICHIE: I can actually say this to you that we have three million copies of sheet music sold at that particular time before we had the Internet.

MORGAN: Is that what you call it?

RICHIE: You could actually sell sheet music so you know we took over "Endless Love," "Hello," "Truly." Come on.

MORGAN: Now 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 Sheldon, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw. I mean what a lineup.

RICHIE: Come on. Come on.

MORGAN: Amazing.

RICHIE: You know what made this so wonderful, is that someone said to me, are you going country? I said, no, no, no, I was born in the country, and a country radio was radio when I was growing up. The songs have already gone country. I'm just going back to claim my kids.


RICHIE: That's all I'm doing. But you know what's 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. And so they are singing the songs that they like.

MORGAN: They're fabulous versions. Now, I want everyone to go and buy this. It's Lionel Richie's "Tuskegee". It's -- "Tuskegee," right?

RICHIE: Tuskegee. Tuskegee.

MORGAN: Tuskegee, yes. It's fantastic idea. 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 got to sing one line and I said who sang the best line?

RICHIE: And the one that I love the most was, "There's a choice we're making. We're saving our own lives."


MORGAN: Do you know what's comforting to me? It is comforting to me that right at the death of this interview I have rescued the situation because your Bob Dylan impression is worse than my Lionel Richie.


RICHIE: And I'll tell you, I take that as a compliment. OK? Bob, you have nothing to worry about, OK?

MORGAN: Lionel, this has been one of my favorite interviews I've ever done at CNN.

RICHIE: Finally we got together.

MORGAN: Please come back.

RICHIE: I promise.

MORGAN: Before too long. And I hope everyone goes and buys this. The album -- as all your albums are -- is brilliant. But I love the country twist.

RICHIE: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: Everyone will love this. I've loved it. I feel swathed with love.

RICHIE: Swathed. What's the word again?

MORGAN: Swathed. I'm on a plinth of love for you. RICHIE: A plinth. I love that. I just can't get my mouth to say the word.

MORGAN: Can you just sing "Hello" to me? Just the first --

RICHIE: I sometimes see you pass outside my door, hello. Is it me you're looking for?


MORGAN: It is me.

RICHIE: Come on, come on, man.

MORGAN: You've been looking for me all your career. Lionel.

RICHIE: Pleasure.

MORGAN: Thank you so much.

RICHIE: Pleasure, my friend.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon. Live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Here are your headlines this hour.

Thousands of people gathered in Miami to take part in a hometown rally for Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. The unarmed teenager was shot and killed more than a month ago in Sanford, Florida. Martin's parents were joined today by civil rights leaders.


SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: We just want the public to know that he was a regular teenager, that he was respectable and he was loved by his family and his friends.


LEMON: They continue to ask for neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman to be arrested. Zimmerman says he shot the teen in self-defense.

The opposition in Syria says it can't hold on forever so the U.S. is promising to nearly double its funding support. In the conference in Istanbul, Turkey today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined others in saying the Syrian people will not be left alone. She says sanctions are starting to work.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think the sanctions are beginning to have an effect, but we have to do more to implement them. We're making progress. Also the individual sanctions, you know, the travel bans, the visa bans, the kinds of direct personal sanctions are beginning to really wake people up.


LEMON: So far the Syrian government crackdown shows no signs of letting up.

Pope Benedict began a hectic Holy Week schedule with a Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter's Scare. Palm Sunday marks Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem leading up to his crucifixion. The pontiff just returned from a six-day trip to Cuba and Mexico after meeting with former dictator Fidel Castro and others. The Cuban regime says it will agree to the Pope's request to make Good Friday a holiday.

Those are your headlines this hour. See you back here at 10:00. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" continues after this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he a winner again? How appropriate it does, it comes at Bay Hill.


MORGAN: Back in the game at last. It was Tiger Woods winning this past weekend at the Arnold Palmers invitational. His first victory in nearly three years, and it comes as his former coach and instructor, Hank Haney, pens a book about their years together. The title of the book is "Big Miss," and Hank Haney joins me now exclusively.

Hank, you're getting a bit of flak for this book and what was the purpose in writing it?

HANK HANEY, TIGER WOODS' FORMER COACH: Well, you know, any time you're around greatness like I was for six years and you see it at close quarters, you're asked about it. I'm asked about Tiger all the time, everywhere I go. People want to know what it was like to work with Tiger? What did you work on? What was he like as a golfer?

You know you're asked about that and I wanted to share it. You know, and I knew that I'd catch some flak but I also, you know, really came to the conclusion that, you know, these were my memories, too. They weren't just Tiger's memories, and I wanted to talk about them, I wanted to share them.

MORGAN: You were with Tiger 110 days a year, you talked to him 200 days a year, returned to his home 30 days a year. All of that for six years. I mean as far as coach and player goes, it doesn't get much closer than that, does it?

HANEY: Well, I mean, that's a lot of time to spend with a player. It's -- you know, of all the players that I've worked with on the tour that's the most time I've ever spent with a player.

MORGAN: And what did you think of him? What do you make of him as a man?

HANEY: Well, I mean, very complex. I mean, very, very complex. He's an incredible champion. You know, he's different. But I expected that. I mean when you see somebody that's as great as Tiger Woods, there's probably a reason for it. And you wouldn't expect him to be the same as everyone else.

MORGAN: The criticism you've been getting says that, look, the whole point of a relationship to a coach and a professional sportsman is very similar, not in law, but in ethics if you like, between that of a doctor and a patient and that you have breached that by going public with a pretty intimate book about your relationship with Tiger. How do you respond to that?

HANEY: Well, I'm certainly not the first coach that's ever written a book. I mean there's a long list of coaches that have written books. And you know, I just felt, like I said, that the bottom line was is that these weren't just his memories. He didn't have an exclusive on those memories. I thought, they're my memories, too, and I wanted to talk about my experiences.

I wanted to talk about my observations. I wanted to talk about the greatness that is Tiger Woods. And how I went about coaching him. And I thought it would be interesting. I'm asked about it all the time. I wanted to write about it.

MORGAN: Rick Smith who coached Phil Mickelson said of your book, "I'd rather be broke and not have a penny to my name before I violate the code of player/teacher confidentiality. For all the guys who committed their lives to teaching, this should be very upsetting. I know I'm not the only one that feels this way. What Hank did is against our rules."

What's your response to him?

HANEY: Well, I mean, those rules are not, you know, written rules. Those might be rules that Rick and obviously some other people think are rules, but, you know, I wasn't bound by any agreement. I didn't violate any agreement, and, you know, I feel very comfortable, you know, sharing my observations and my thoughts in the book. I think the book is very professional. It's honest. It's fair, and it depicts exactly what happened during the six years that I was with Tiger.

MORGAN: I mean, in the book you reveal a number of text messages that you sent Tiger Woods. I wanted to read one to you in the context of what you just said. You say to him, "I feel like I've been a great friend to you. I don't feel like I've gotten that in return."

I mean, obviously writing this kind of book has angered Tiger Woods enormously. It's not really the behavior of a friend to do that. Did you just think, you know what in the guy let me down, he wasn't a proper friend to me so I'm going to make money out of his intimate life and the way that you have done?

HANEY: No, not in any way, shape or form. I mean the text you just read was the text that I sent to Tiger when I was resigning after six years of working with him. You know, we had a great time together. I mean, Tiger won a lot of tournaments. He won 45 percent of his tournaments the last three years I worked with him, but I just felt like it was -- it was just time to go, and my text there was -- really had to do with the fact that the rest of the text said or the one prior to that said that, you know, in all instances when I was asked about Tiger Woods I always gave an answer that was in the best interest of Tiger Woods.

And I didn't feel like that had, you know, had happened in return, but, you know, by the same token there wasn't any one thing that, you know, made me think it was time to go. It was just six years coaching. A world class athlete and the most recognizable, and scrutinized athlete probably in history.

It was just a long time, and it was just time for me to go, but, you know, I had a great time. It was the greatest opportunity a coach or teacher could ever have, and I'm very thankful for it.

MORGAN: Let's take a short break. I want to come back and talk more about the controversy surrounding the book and also what your view was of the enormous global sex scandal that nearly ended Tiger's career.



WOODS: I want to say to each of you simply and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.


MORGAN: Tiger Woods saying sorry for the scandal that nearly wrecked his career. I'm back with Hank Haney, Tiger's former instructor. His new book, "The Big Miss", is not about the scandal. Let's be clear about that. It's about his years working with the champion. And yet the scandal, I guess, you know, any friend of Tiger's as you were pretty well took over everything.

Could you quite believe what you were hearing when all these stories began to come out?

HANEY: No, I couldn't, because the first, you know, inkling that there might be a problem was Mark Steinberg, Tiger's agent called me, and told me that there was going to be an article coming out in the "National Enquirer" but that it wasn't true. It was about Tiger and a girl and it wasn't true and that everything was going to be OK, and then, you know, it was probably a week or so or two weeks after that that, you know, Tiger hit the fire hydrant, and then all of a sudden, you know, everything started spilling out, and obviously it was true, and there was a lot more to follow, but I didn't know anything.

Steve Williams, his caddy, didn't know anything, and obviously Elin, Tiger's wife at the time, didn't know anything. MORGAN: I mean, if you, as his coach, is it your place to say anything to a champion athlete like Tiger Woods? Would you have done if you'd known?

HANEY: I don't think it would be my place necessarily as a coach, but it would be my place I feel like as a friend, and I certainly would have said something, and I know Steve Williams would have said something, too.

MORGAN: Given the way that Tiger treated, I guess both you, by which you say in your book and Steve Williams, he seems to have a cold side, which, you know, many sporting champions I guess feel they need to have. Do you feel that he's changed at all since the scandal?

HANEY: You know, I think he's probably softened some. I felt -- I felt a change, you know, after that. And like you said, I think that the cold side is part of what makes up, you know, Tiger as an incredible champion. I never really, you know, judged him on that. I looked and I thought that all the things that make up Tiger Woods are what makes up him being a champion, and those are things that I go at great length in detailing in the book, "The Big Miss," but, you know, it is part of the package, as I call it, and I know that Tiger is an incredible champion, you know, the likes of which the game of golf has never seen.

MORGAN: From what you saw at the Arnold Palmer tournament that he just won his first victory in three years, from a technical point of view, given that you were so close to him technically for so long, is he back to his best? Could he win the Masters this year, do you think?

HANEY: Well, he's definitely striking the ball well. I mean he finished first in greens regulation which for the years that I worked with Tiger I thought that was a key statistic. He was always first in greens regulation or near the top, so he's back up there again. I think he's 14th for the year, but he's right up there near the top.

The great thing about Bay Hill to me was that his putting was good. He finished fourth in putting as a key statistic. Every player that's won on the PGA Tour this year has finished top 10 in putting, and going to Augusta, that's the most important thing. Tiger would have won, you know, five or six green jackets in a row if he would have had fewer than, you know, two three putts for the 72 holes, so if he can avoid three putts at Augusta, he'll be very difficult to beat. He's great on that golf course. It fits his game, but it all really comes down to the putting.

MORGAN: You know, it would be great to see Tiger win the Masters again. You know he's a great champion, been through a tough time but America loves a guy who makes a comeback like that.

Hank Haney, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

HANEY: Thanks for having me on.