Willie Hutch Dies at 59

Willie Hutch, 1946-2005

Although Isaac Hayes' Theme From 'Shaft' and Curtis Mayfield's Superfly are the most immediately known sounds of the '70s blaxploitation school, Motown jack-of-all-trades Willie Hutch further cemented the genre with his soundtracks for Foxy Brown and The Mack. Those records are of another time and place now, but they still have more spirit and life than anything Diddy could cut and paste together.

From the Associated Press obituary:

*Legendary R&B singer/songwriter Willie Hutch, the Motown veteran who co-wrote "I'll Be There" for the Jackson 5, has died at his home in Dallas, Texas, reports WREG-TV Memphis. He was 59. The cause of death has not yet been released.

Born Willie McKinley Hutchinson in 1946 in Los Angeles, Hutch grew up in Dallas, where his debut single "Love Has Put Me Down" was released in the early sixties. After putting out his first album in 1964, the artist went on to work with a number of artists as a writer and producer.

In 1970, producer Hal Davis called Hutch at the 11th hour to write a song for a backing track he had produced for the Jackson 5. The Michael Jackson-led group reportedly went into the studio the next day to record Hutch's words on the track, which turned out to be one of the group's biggest hits, "I'll Be There."

Hutch went on to write and/or produce solo albums for Jackson, as well as Smokey Robinson, The Fifth Dimension, The Miracles, The Main Ingredient ("California My Way"), Junior Walker, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, among others.

He also wrote the entire soundtrack for Pam Grier's 1970s blaxploitation masterpiece, "Foxy Brown" and worked on the soundtrack to "The Mack," including the song, "Brother's Gonna Work It Out." Hutch even penned a song for the 2005 John Singleton-produced film, "Hustle and Flow."

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