Legendary Motown songwriter and producer Deke Richards (aka Dennis Lussier), passed away at the age of 68 on Sunday, March 24 at 6:15am at the Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham, WA. Richards was surrounded by his immediate family. Until his recent hospitalization, he had been cared for at his Bellingham home during his battle with esophageal cancer.
Richards, born April 8, 1944, is survived by his loving wife of 26 years, Joan Lussier, his brother Dane Lussier of Huntington Beach, California, and two nephews, Chris Lussier of Bellingham, Washington and Cory Lussier of Nantucket, Massachusetts.
As leader of the “The Corporation,” Motown’s songwriting, arranging and producing team, which also included Berry Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren, Richards wrote and produced many hits for the Jackson 5, among them their first three No. 1 hits – “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” and “The Love You Save” – as well as “Mama’s Pearl,” “Maybe Tomorrow,” “Goin’ Back To Indiana” and others. He also co-wrote the No. 1 smash hit “Love Child” for Diana Ross & The Supremes, as well Ms. Ross’ No. 1 U.K. solo hit, “I’m Still Waiting.” Bobby Darin, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Bonnie Bramlett and Ginette Reno are among the many other recording artists for whom Richards produced and/or wrote songs.
Richards’ love of music kept him involved with a variety of projects throughout his life, including the production of 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 was the mixing of eight unreleased tracks by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, for the 3-CD box set 50th Anniversary: The Singles 1962-1972, to be released April 5 of this year.
Richards’ father Dane Lussier was a screenwriter, who instilled a love of movies that inspired Deke to collect film memorabilia and subsequently create posterpalace.com, a successful vintage movie poster business.
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.
A private family celebration of Richards’ life is planned. In lieu of flowers, the family would like to recommend support and sponsorship of music education, honoring Richards’ tradition of nurturing and guiding new musical talent. To lend your support, visit the HAL Awards’ site at www.halawards.com/howyoucanhelp.html and help to sponsor a musical education.