You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jackson 5 Songwriter-Producer Deke Richards Dies

Motown songwriter, producer and arranger Deke Richards, who logged his biggest successes with the Jackson 5 and the Supremes in the ’60s and ’70s, died on March 24 in Bellingham, Wash., after suffering from esophageal cancer. He was 68.

A member of Motown hitmaker groups the Clan and the Corporation, Richards co-wrote the breakout Jackson 5 singles “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “The Love You Save,” as well as hits for the Supremes, Diana Ross and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.

Born Dennis Lussier in Los Angeles, Richards was making a living as a session guitarist when he was spotted by Motown head Berry Gordy backing up Debbie Dean, and signed a producing contract with the label in 1966. He landed his first hit when he co-wrote the Supremes single “Love Child” in 1968 with songwriter-producer group the Clan, which arose to fill the void left by the departure of hitmaking triad Holland-Dozier-Holland.

The Clan was short-lived, but subsequent group the Corporation – featuring Richards, Gordy, Alphonso “Fonce” Mizell and Freddie Perren – proved a worthy follow-up. The group found its ideal artists in new signings the Jackson 5, and the kiddie group’s first three Corporation-produced singles  all topped the  charts in 1970.

Richards notched his first solo songwriting success that year via Diana Ross’ “I’m Still Waiting” – a modest hit Stateside but a chart-topper in the U.K. – and continued writing for the Jacksons with the Corporation, with “Mama’s Pearl,” “Maybe Tomorrow” and “Goin’ Back to Indiana” all enjoying various degrees of success. The group was also responsible for Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ “Bless You” in 1971.

Later in the 1970s, Richards worked as a songwriting collaborator with Graham Parker and Black Oak Arkansas, and was purportedly initially hired to produce Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album, but left before the start of production.

He is survived by wife Joan Lussier, a brother and two nephews.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Dawes Looks Back on 10 Years

    Taylor Goldsmith Reflects on 10 Years of Dawes as Band Heads Back to 'North Hills'

    Dawes is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the band’s debut with a deluxe vinyl re-release of their first album, “North Hills.” Faced with that milestone, fans might think: only 10 years? With Taylor Goldsmith clocking in as one of rock’s most prolific as well as just simply best songwriters, Dawes has managed to produce an impressive [...]

  • Latin Recording Academy Names Manuel Abud

    Latin Recording Academy Names Manuel Abud COO

    As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, the Latin Recording Academy today announced several key changes to its leadership team. Former Azteca America president/CEO Manuel Abud has been named the organization’s chief operating officer, while 19-year Latin Grammy vet Luis Dousdebes takes on the new position of Chief Awards, Membership and Preservation Officer. Also, Aida Scorza, who has worked [...]

  • Sturgill Simpson Grammys perfromance

    Sturgill Simpson Announces Club Tour to Benefit Special Forces Foundation

    Grammy winning singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson has announced plans for a special small-venue tour to benefit the Special Forces Foundation, kicking off at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA, on September 29.  The limited run of dates comes on the heels of the simultaneous release of his album and Netflix anime film of the same name, [...]

  • HalseyDKNY 30th birthday party, Arrivals, Spring

    Watch Halsey’s Stunning Performance of ‘Time After Time’ at the 2019 Emmy Awards

    As part of Sunday night’s In Memoriam tribute at the 2019 Emmy Awards, Halsey performed a version of Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 classic “Time After Time,” over a montage of television stars who died over the past year. Introduced by actress Regina King, the singer performed accompanied only by a pianist and honored Katherine Helmond, Tim [...]

  • Spin Lab

    Big Deal Inks Joint Venture With Ricky Reed’s Nice Life Company

    Independent music publisher Big Deal Music Group announced today that they have signed a joint venture deal with Nice Life Copyright Company, the music publishing company founded by Grammy-nominated producer/ writer/ artist Ricky Reed.  Under the terms of the agreement, Big Deal will administer songs for Nice Life, and the two companies will join forces [...]

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmy Viewers Not 'Feelin' Good' About Bizarre Music Choices

    It was known ahead of time that the Emmy Awards planned to dispense with a traditional orchestra or pit band for the walk-up and bumper music. What wasn’t anticipated was that the music choices were being outsourced to a bar mitzvah DJ in Des Moines. Or, very possibly, it was a local who had found [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content