Passings: Leon Ware (1940 - 2017)

by VVN Music

Veteran producer, songwriter and performer Leon Ware died on Thursday (February 23) at the age of 77. The cause of death has not been announced.

Ware's talents influenced every form of African-American music from the late-60's right through the hip-hop era, not only as a performer but also as a behind the scenes creator. His long list of artists with which he worked includes Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones and Maxwell.

Born and raised in Detroit, MI, he had his first charting record as a songwriter with the Isley Brothers' Got to Have You Back (1967 / #47 R&B / #93 Pop). Over the years, his name would appear as writer on such songs as Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life) by the Four Tops, I Wanna Be Where You Are by Michael Jackson and I Want You by Marvin Gaye along with over forty other charting records.

In 1972, United Artists took notice of Ware's songwriting prowess and signed him to a contract that included his self-titled debut. He would go on to release a total of eleven studio albums for a series of labels including his last, 2008's Moon Ride.

Ware was also adept at producing. After giving away half of the material for his second album to Marvin Gaye, he ended up co-producing Marvin's album I Want You with Arthur "T-Boy" Ross. His work was also not always just within the realm of R&B. In 1978, he worked with Harry Maslin on Melissa Manchester's album Don't Cry Out Loud. Others included Syreeta's 1977 album One to One and Maxwell's 1996 classic Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite.

Leon's music also became very popular among hip-hop artists like Jay Z, Mobb Deep, De La Soul and Ice Cube, for sampling.

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