Passings: Leon Haywood (1942 - 2016)

Soul singer Leon Haywood, who had a top twenty hit in 1975 with I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You, has died at the age of 74.

Haywood started young, playing piano at the age of three and, in his teens, played with local groups along with bluesman Guitar Slim.

In the early-60's, he moved to Los Angeles where he played with Big Jay McNeely and, later, as Sam Cooke's keyboard player until the time of his death.

His first break as a solo artist came in 1965. Although he had released music on other labels, it was his association with Imperial where he had his first hit with She's With Her Other Lover (1967 / #13 R&B / #95 Pop). In 1967, he moved to Decca Records where he had to more minor hits with It's Got to Be Mellow (1967 / #21 R&B / #67 Pop) and Mellow Moonlight (1968 / #35 R&B / #92 Pop).

Along with his solo hits, Haywood was part of two bands that scored instrumental hits. L.A. disc jockey Magnificent Montague put together both groups with the Packers scoring with Hole in the Wall (1965 / #5 R&B / #50 Pop) and the Romeos having Precious Memories (1967 / #31 R&B).

After five years of moving between labels, Haywood finally settled in at 20th Century where he incorporated Funk into his style and had eight singles that hit the R&B charts including Keep It in the Family (1974 / #11 R&B / #50 Pop), the previously mentioned I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You (1975 / #7 R&B / #15 Pop) and Strokin' (Part II) (1976 / #13 R&B / #101 Pop).

Haywood's last major hit came in 1980 with Don't Push It Don't Force It which went to number 2 on the R&B chart and 49 on Pop.

Outside of his own recording career, Haywood worked as a writer, producer and executive. He wrote Carl Carlton's hit She's a Bad Mama Jama and produced his album and, in the late 80's, became an executive at Edge Records. He's also produced a number of blues albums for classic artists of the genre including Jimmy McCracklin and Buddy Ace.


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