In his time, Deke Richards helped write and produce hits for big-name Motown artists such as the Jackson 5, Diana Ross and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Now, the musical leader of the 1960s and ‘70s has died at age 68, Universal Music said in a March 25 statement.
Richards, whose real name was Dennis Lussier, died the morning of March 24 at the Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham, Wash., surrounded by his immediate family. He had been battling esophageal cancer, the statement read.
As leader of Motown’s prolific in-house songwriting and production team, “The Corporation,” Richards was involved in writing and producing many Jackson 5 hits, the Universal Music release said. Along with team members Motown founder Berry Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren, “The Corporation,” penned and produced the group’s first three No. 1 songs: "I Want You Back," "ABC," and "The
Love You Save," as well as many others.
He also co-wrote the No. 1 smash hit “Love Child” for Diana Ross and The Supremes, as well as Ross’ No. 1 U.K. solo hit, “I’m Still Waiting,” Universal Music said.
Richards’ sustained his involvement in music to the present day. Most recently, he helped produce the Jackson 5’s Come And Get It: The Rare Pearls, a 2012 release that featured dozens of rare and unreleased tracks by the group. His final project, the mixing of eight unreleased tracks by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, will be included in the three-CD box set 50th Anniversary: The Singles 1962-1972, which will be released April 5, according to Universal Music.
Richards is survived by his wife of 26 years, Joan Lussier, his brother Dane Lussier of Huntington Beach, Calif., and two nephews, Chris Lussier of Bellingham, Wash., and Cory Lussier of Nantucket, Mass.