Deke Richards (center) flanked by the late Alphonzo Mizell (left) and Freddie Perren. (Photo: Universal Music Enterprises)
Deke Richards, leader of Motown’s famed songwriting/production team the Corporation (Jackson 5, Diana Ross), died on March 24 following a battle with esophageal cancer. He was 68.
During his tenure with the Corporation -- which also included Motown founder Berry Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren -- Richards (aka Dennis Lussier) wrote and produced a string of hits for the Jackson 5. These included the group’s first three No. 1’s on both the R&B and pop charts, “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “The Love You Save.” He also co-wrote No. 1 pop hit “Love Child” for Diana Ross & the Supremes, in addition to working with such artists as Bobby Darin and Bonnie Bramlett. Richards’ final project was the mixing of eight unreleased tracks by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas for Universal Music Enterprises' three-CD box set "50th Anniversary: The Singles 1962-1972," slated for April 5.
Born April 8, 1944, Richards passed away at the Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham, Wash. He is survived by his wife, Joan Lussier, among other relatives. A private family celebration of his life is being planned. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking industry colleagues to honor Richards by supporting music education (halawards.com/howyoucanhelp.html).