R.I.P. Motown's Deke Richards

Share this article

    Famed Motown songwriter Deke Richards has died in Washington at age 68 after a long battle with cancer. Richards, who came to fame as part of "The Corporation," a team of songwriters who helped establish the youthful, irresistible sound of the Jackson Five on hits like "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "The Love You Save," was part of the second generation of Motown hitmakers that carried the label into the early 1970s.

    Famed Motown songwriter Deke Richards has died in Washington at age 68 after a long battle with cancer. Richards, who came to fame as part of "The Corporation," a team of songwriters who helped establish the youthful, irresistible sound of the Jackson Five on hits like "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "The Love You Save," was part of the second generation of Motown hitmakers that carried the label into the early 1970s.

    Born in California as Dennis Lussier, Richards met Motown honcho Berry Gordy while working in L.A. with singer Debbie Dean. When Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown to form the Invictus label and Smokey Robinson's songwriting production slowed down, the label was searching for new talent to support Motown artists as the label relocated to California. Gordy signed Richards as a songwriter and teamed him with R. Dean Taylor, Frank Wilson and Pam Sawyer as the songwriting team "The Clan," and they together hit #1 for the Supremes on "Love Child." Taylor then worked with Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren (who later produced with Gloria Gaynor, Peaches and Herb and Tavares) to form The Corporation, one of Motown's most successful teams.  

    Richards went on to write and/or produce Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder, and over the next two decades worked with a wide range of artists such as Ben Vereen and rocker Sammy Hagar before his musical career slowed down. He was an integral part of the emergence of Michael Jackson as a child star and helped create some of the most infectious popular music ever. He will be missed.

    By Chris Rizik

    .

     
    Featured Album - ASCENDANT - Illuminate: Yellow
    Choice Cut - Fred Reed - "Tug Of War"