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Deke Richards (center) with fellow Corporation songwriters Alphonzo Mizell, left, and Freddie Perren.
Bellingham, WA (March 26, 2013)—Legendary Motown songwriter and producer Deke Richards (Dennis Lussier), best known for writing Jackson Five hits including “ABC,” “I Want You Back” and “The Love You Save,” as well as Diana Ross’ “Love Child,” passed away Sunday morning at the Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham, WA. He was 68.

Richards, born April 8, 1944, was battling esophageal cancer and is survived by his wife of 26 years, Joan Lussier, his brother Dan Lussier, and two nephews, Chris and Cory Lussier.

Richards was the leader of Motown’s songwriting, arranging and producing team, “The Corporation.” He helped write or produce many hits by The Jackson 5, co-wrote the No. 1 hit “Love Child” for Diana Ross & The Supremes, and worked with other artists, including Bobby Darin, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Bonnie Bramlett and Ginette Reno.

In more recent years, Richards produced the Jackson 5’s 2012 release of Come And Get It: The Rare Pearls, which consisted of many rare and unreleased Jackson 5 recordings, and he mixed eight unreleased tracks by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas for the 3-CD 50th Anniversary box set.

According to a statement released by the Universal Music Group, parent company of Motown: “Deke Richards’ impact on contemporary music is such that his influence continues to resonate today. He will be missed dearly by his family, his many business associates and fans around the world.”