According to a statement from Universal Music, Motown songwriter and producer Deke Richards died Sunday at the Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham, Washington, after battling esophageal cancer. He was 68.
Richards, also known as Dennis Lussier, was a part of history as he co-wrote some of the biggest hits while he was with the production team The Corporation. The Corporation was part of the team that wrote and produced the Jackson 5‘s early hits including, “ABC,” “Maybe Tomorrow” and “I Want You Back.” In addition to his contributions to the Jackson 5, he also wrote and produced for such greats as Bobby Darin and Diana Ross & The Supremes.
Over 4,500 fans braved the 100 plus temperatures to see the legendary Smokey Robinson at Thunder Valley Casino Resort‘s outdoor amphitheater Saturday night ““ you could say it was a smoking show due to the heat, but that would be a lame joke.
Despite the heat, the 72 year old Motown legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee arrived on stage decked out in a white suit and tie, as the audience jumped to their feet welcoming Robinson to Thunder Valley Casino.
Robinson, known for his high tenor voice, has accumulated more than 4,000 songs to his credit, so his set-list for the evening was anyone’s guess.
He kicked it off with “Going to a Go Go” and “Second that Emotion,” both hits made famous by the Miracles in the mid-sixties, with Robinson as lead singer.
The audience was in full participation mode as fans sang along with songs like “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” “Tears of a Clown,” and “Tracks of My Tears.”
After hearing the audiences response as he finished singing “Ooh Baby Baby,” he said he probably should have started the show with that one.
Throwing a bit of local humor into the show Robinson said he really appreciated everyone taking the time to come out and see him, especially in a town like Lincoln, where there’s so much to do on a Saturday.
Robinson talked about a show called the Motown Review, where you could see the likes of The Temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and others, all for a $1.60. This lead into a medley of Temptation hits.
At one point he brought audience members Lisa and Porsche onto the stage and assigned sections of the audience to each one. The goal ““ Cheer their section on to be the loudest. I believe Porsche’s group was the clear winner, but I’m sure Lisa would have something to say about that.
Robinson is a true entertainer and after over 50 years of performing he still knows how to put on a great show and keep the audience entertained. It was a smoking good show ““ I just had to.
Checkout the remaining outdoor concerts at Thunder Valley Casino. Next weekend is ZZ Top and Diana Krall.
I was heading out to the Super 70′s Soul Jam out at Thunder Valley Casino and Resort Friday night, so I dawned my rose colored glasses, bell bottoms and platform shoes. Luckily I packed a Big Hunk, Bottle Caps and Screaming Yellow Zongers before leaving. I knew I’d get the munchies since I’m such a burn out and can’t leave home without a joint or three (hey I have a prescription). I was just hoping I could maintain with all that groovy music playing. The last thing I needed was for some narc to rat me out. As for the concert it was far out man and I should add Dyno-mite!
Right on. Not everyone can be as hip as the hipsters from the 70′s, but Friday everyone was hip and just hanging out with the likes of The Emotions, The Chi-Lites, The Stylistics, The Temptations, and the MC for the evening Jimmy JJ Walker.
To start the night off Jimmy JJ Walker took the stage. Most people remember Walker from his role on Good Times as James Evans Junior, or JJ. In fact, Walker coined the term dyno-mite which became slang for great or fantastic.
Walker provided a bit of comic relief in between sets. At one point he was joking around about the price of gas, saying that he pulled into a full service gas station and the attendant asked him if he wanted him to fill it up, to which Walker responded – No, just give me $200 worth – Ba-da-bing.
First up were the The Emotions singing hits like “Best of My Love,” “Don’t Ask My Neighbors,” and “Boogie Wonderland.” Founding members and sisters Pamela Hutchinson and Wanda Vaughn were joined by Wanda’s daughter Wyann Vaughn.
Wyann did a great job filling in for her aunt and founding member Sheila Hutchinson, who was unable to make the concert. The trio did a fantastic job, sounded great, and were styling in their matching black and white dresses.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, The Chi-Lites, slowly made their way onto the stage as one by one they came out to the tune of “Have You Seen Her.” Decked out in bright yellow suits they sang a number of hits including “Have You Seen Her” and “Oh Girl.” Joining founding member Marshall Thompson were Frank Reed, Fred Simon, and Thompson’s wife Tara Thompson.
Marshall is in the R&B Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and has been performing for over 52 years.
Up next were The Stylistics with original band members Herbert Murrell and Airrioin Love. They were joined by Eban Brown and Jason Sharp. Performing their hits including “Betcha by Golly Wow,” “I’m Stone in Love with You,” and “Break Up To Make Up,” the group stayed in perfect synch with each other as they danced throughout their set.
Headlining the evening was The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards. Edwards was lead singer for the original Temptations for a number of years, replacing David Ruffin.
Joining Edwards were Paul Williams Jr., David Sea, Mike Patillo, and Chris Arnold. Paul Williams Jr. is the son of original Temptation Paul Williams.
Dressed in matching suits the group sang hit after hit including “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me),” “Papa was a Rolling Stone,” and “My Girl.”
It only took a couple of notes at the beginning of each song for the audience to start cheering as they recognized the tune. Dancing in the aisles, as well as at their seats, people were enjoying a trip down memory lane, with most people singing along.
It was a fantastic night of some good old fashion soul music and a little bit of humor thrown in to boot.
The Summer Concert Series out at Thunder Valley Casino Resort continues to heat up with Bret Michaels, Night Ranger, and Slaughter appearing next Friday June 15th.