Motown Songwriter Deke Richards Dies

The leader of songwriting/production team The Corporation was behind "I Want You Back," "ABC" and other hits.

Deke Richards, leader of Motown’s famed songwriting/production team The Corporation (Jackson 5, Diana Ross), died March 24 following a battle with esophageal cancer. He was 68 years old.

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, Washington. 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.