Deke Richards, center, Deke Richards flanked by fellow Corporation songwriters Alphonzo Mizell, left, and Freddie Perren

Deke Richards, center, flanked by fellow Corporation songwriters Alphonzo Mizell, left, and Freddie Perren

*Motown songwriter-producer Deke Richards – leader of the Motown songwriting, arranging and producing team known as The Corporation – has died at a hospice at age 68.

Richards, whose real name was Dennis Lussier, died Sunday at the Whatcom Hospice House, Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center spokeswoman Amy Cloud confirmed Monday. He had been battling esophageal cancer, according to a statement from Universal Music.

As leader of The Corporation, Richards was involved in writing and producing many Jackson 5 hits, the Universal Music release said. Those songs included the Jackson 5’s first three No. 1 hits – “I Want You Back,” ”ABC,” and “The Love You Save.”
He also co-wrote “Love Child” for Diana Ross & The Supremes, as well Ross’ solo “I’m Still Waiting.”

Other recording artists for whom Richards produced or wrote songs include Bobby Darin, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas.

He is survived by his wife, Joan Lussier, a brother and two nephews.