Sadly, legendary Motown songwriter-producer Deke Richards has died from cancer at a hospice facility in Washington state. He was 68 years old. Richards, whose real name was Dennis Lussier, died on Sunday at the Whatcom Hospice House, Peace Health St Joseph Medical Centre, spokeswoman Amy Cloud confirmed on Monday.
He was the leader of the Motown songwriting, arranging and producing team known as The Corporation, which was comprised of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren.
He was heavily involved in writing and producing many Jackson 5 hits, according to a release from Universal Music. Those songs included the Jackson 5’s first three No. 1 hits – ‘I Want You Back,’ ‘ABC,’ and ‘The Love You Save.’ Michael continued to perform these songs on his solo tours, during the Motown Medley.
Speaking to the Detroit News after Michael’s death in 2009, Richards said that the King of Pop was a “true genius.”
He told the paper, “Whatever it took to be able to take and mold and help to put together that piece of clay, I’ll tell you something, it was like your hands were guided by God.”
He also co-wrote ‘Love Child’ for Diana Ross & The Supremes, as well Ross’ solo ‘I’m Still Waiting.’
Other recording artists for whom Richards produced or wrote songs include Bobby Darin, The Four Tops and Martha Reeves & the Vandellas.
Billboard.com have reported that a private family celebration of his life is being planned. The family has asked industry colleagues to memorialize Richards by supporting programs like the HAL Awards for music education.