Deke Richards, the lead writer for famed record label Motown who penned hit tracks for The Jackson 5 and Diana Ross, has died aged 68 following a battle with esophageal cancer. During his tenure with the label's songwriting and production team The Corporation, Richards (real name Dennis Lussier) wrote and produced the Jackson 5's first three No.1 singles, I Want You Back, ABC and The Love You Save.

He reportedly played in a backing band for Debbie Dean and met Barry Gordy when The Supremes played at the Hollywood Place in 1966. After impressing the Motown mogul, Richards was offered a contract as record producer and songwriter. 

Working alongside Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren, Richards also provided Diana Ross & The Supremes with their pop hit 'Love Child' and wrote for Bobby Darin and Bonnie Bramlett. His final project was the mixing of eight unreleased tracks by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas for Universal Music Enterprises' three-CD box set '50th Anniversary: The Singles 1962-1972' which is slated for release on April 5. 

Richards passed away at the Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham, Washington. He is survived by his wife Joan Lussier, among other relatives. A family celebration of his long and distinguished life in music is currently being planned, though the family is asking industry colleagues to honor Richards by supporting musical education.