Deke Richards dies; Motown producer was 68

deke-richards-dies.jpgDeke Richards (center) has died at the age of 68, in a Bellingham, Wash. hospice.

Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center spokeswoman Amy Cloud confirms to the AP that Richards, whose real name was Dennis Lussier, died Sunday (March 24) at the center's hospice house.

Universal Music says in a statement that Richards had been fighting esophageal cancer. Universal Music also says that Richards was the leader of The Corporation, a Motown songwriting, arranging and producing team that also included Berry Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren.

Richards was involved in writing Jackson 5 hits "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "The Love You Save." He also co-wrote "Love Child" for Diana Ross & The Supremes.

Richards' family is asking for donations to be made in Richards' name at the Hal Awards website, which promotes music education.

Photo/Video credit: Universal Music