Motown Producer Deke Richards dies

Published On: Mar 26 2013 04:23:35 AM EDT   Updated On: Mar 26 2013 06:15:09 AM EDT
deke richards
LOS ANGELES -

Deke Richards, a producer and songwriter who was part of the team responsible for Motown hits like "I Want You Back" and "Maybe Tomorrow," died Sunday at age 68, according to a press release from Universal Music. He had been battling esophageal cancer.

Richards was leader of "The Corporation," Motown's songwriting and producing team that was also made up of Berry Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren. The group wrote several hits for the Jackson 5, including "ABC" and "The Love You Save."

Richards co-wrote "Love Child" for Diana Ross & The Supremes, which went on to be a No. 1 hit.

Later in life, he worked on several projects, including the Jackson 5's "Come And Get It: The Rare Pearls," which was a 2012 release featuring rare and unreleased tracks by the group. His final project was mixing eight unreleased tracks by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas for the forthcoming box set "50th Anniversary: The Singles 1962-1972."

A private family celebration is planned. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking fodonations to help musical education via the HAL Awards' site.