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Motown producer-songwriter Deke Richards dies

March 26, 2013|By Mikael Wood
  • Motown producer-songwriter Deke Richards, center, died at 68 in Bellingham, Wash.
Motown producer-songwriter Deke Richards, center, died at 68 in Bellingham,… (Universal Music Enterprises )

Deke Richards, who as part of the songwriting and production team known as the Corporation was responsible for many of Motown Records' signature songs, died Sunday at a hospice in Bellingham, Wash., of esophageal cancer, according to a statement from his record label. He was 68.

Born Dennis Lussier in Los Angeles, Richards helped launch the Jackson 5 to stardom by co-creating -- alongside Alphonzo Mizell, Freddie Perren and Motown founder Berry Gordy -- the family band's first three No. 1 hits: "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "The Love You Save."

"I was basically in charge of the Jackson 5 -- all their creative, when it came down to the studio and all their creative endeavors," Richards once told Rolling Stone. He went on to write additional songs for the group, including "Mama's Pearl" and "Maybe Tomorrow."

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Richards also worked with Diana Ross & the Supremes and Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, among other artists.

More recently he helped assemble several Motown box sets and created a website dedicated to vintage movie posters.

Richards is survived by his wife, a brother and two nephews.


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