Socialite, actress. Nicole Camille Escovedo was born in Berkeley, California, on September 21st, 1981. Her biological mother was a backstage assistant for singer and musician Lionel Richie. Her biological father is often cited as Peter Michael Escovedo, a member of Lionel Richie’s band and brother to pop percussionist Sheila E., but this has not been confirmed.
At age three, for financial reasons, Nicole moved in with her father’s bandmate Lionel, and Lionel’s wife Brenda Harvey-Richie. Six years later, the Richies officially adopted Nicole.
Shortly after the adoption, Lionel’s affair with another woman became fodder for the tabloids. Apparently feeling guilty about their highly-publicized divorce, the Richies indulged Nicole’s every whim.
As a child, Richie pursued her passion for figure skating and also studied the guitar, cello, violin and piano.Nicole’s formative years were spent at the prestigious Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, California, where she met Paris Hilton, the heir to the Hilton empire.
As a teenager, Richie began partying hard and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Following her graduation from Montclair Preparatory School in 2000, she decided to go to college. She attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, and studied arts and media. Nicole dropped out after two years and returned to Los Angeles.
Continuing the pattern of her teenager years, Richie was busted in February 2003 when police found heroin in her Mercedes-Benz. She plead guilty to all charges and was sentenced to probation and ordered to attend the Sierra Tucson drug rehab center in Arizona.
Ten days after leaving rehab, Nicole was reunited with childhood friend Paris Hilton to star in The Simple Life, after Paris’ sister, Nicky, bowed out. Richie continued working with Hilton through their very public falling out, but reconciled in 2006 before starring in their show’s fifth season.
Nicole also pursued a musical career, joining the rock band Darling in 2004, featuring model Josie Maran and socialite sisters Soleil and Sofia Alberti. Richie then made her acting debut as a cheerleader in the movie Kids in America in 2005. Richie went on to write a semi-autobiographical novel, The Truth About Diamonds in 2005.
Often accused of being too thin, Richie became a style icon, with endless coverage of her shrinking frame and on-and-off relationships. In February of 2005, Richie and boyfriend Adam Goldstein, better known as club disc-jockey DJ AM, became engaged. They split ten months later.
Richie was arrested on December 11th, 2006, after she drove her black Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle the wrong way on a freeway in Burbank, California. She reportedly told authorities she had smoked marijuana and taken the prescription painkiller Vicodin. Richie pleaded guilty in July to a misdemeanor charge, avoiding a potential year in jail because it was only a second DUI conviction.
Richie began dating guitarist Joel Madden of the band Good Charlotte in 2006. On July 31, 2007, Richie announced that she and Madden would be having their first child together. She gave birth to daughter Harlow Winter Kate Madden on Jan. 11, 2008, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.