Motown songwriter and producer Deke Richards dies at age 68

By Daniel S Levine,

The name Deke Richards might not sound familiar, but the music he wrote and produced at Motown is legendary. Richards died Sunday at age 68.

Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center spokeswoman Amy Cloud confirmed to The Associated Press that Richards died Sunday at the Whatcom Hospice. Richards, who was born Dennis Lussier, had suffered from esophageal cancer.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Richards was a key member of ‘The Corporation,’ the writing/producing team behind the Motown sound. Other members of the group included Berry Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren.

Richards was responsible for writing and producing the Jackson 5’s first three smash hit singles, including “ABC,” “I Want You Back” and “The Love You Save.” All three singles were No. 1s in 1970.

Ricards’ other noteworthy work includes “Love Child” for Diana Ross & The Supremes in 1968 and Ross’ solo hit “I'm Still Waiting.” He also worked with Bobby Darin, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas and Bonnie Bramlett. Richards recently worked on the Jackson 5’s 2012 release Come and Get It: The Rare Pearls. His last project was Martha Reeves & The Vandellas’ 50th Anniversary: The Singles 1962-1972, which will be released next month.

Richards is survived by his wife, Joan Lussier, and a brother.

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