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Deke Richards dies at 68; force behind Motown hits, Jackson 5

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Deke Richards, center, said that at one point, he was basically in charge of the Jackson 5. (Universal Music Enterprises via LA Times)

Deke Richards, who as part of the songwriting and production team known as the Corporation was responsible for many of Motown Records ‘ signature songs, died Sunday at a hospice in Bellingham, Wash., of esophageal cancer , according to a statement from his record label. He was 68.

Born Dennis Lussier in Los Angeles, Richards helped launch the Jackson 5 to stardom by co-creating — alongside Alphonzo Mizell, Freddie Perren and Motown founder Berry Gordy — the family band’s first three No. 1 hits: “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “The Love You Save.”

“I was basically in charge of the Jackson 5 — all their creative, when it came down to the studio and all their creative endeavors,” Richards once told Rolling Stone.