70s and 80s Hitmaker Reggie Lucas dies at age 65
(May 19, 2018) He was a Grammy-winning musician and a hitmaking songwriter and producer who spread a lot of joy over the years. We’re sad to report the death of Reggie Lucas, one of the great soul music songwriters and producers of the late 70s and early 80s, at age 65.
Lucas’s daughter, Lisa (the head of the National Book Foundation), posted today on Facebook, “After a long and arduous struggle with his physical heart (his emotional one was perfect) he was called home. I wish he’d had more time, I wish we’d all had more time with him, but he left this world absolutely covered in love, with his hands held and his family beside him. I’m glad he’s at peace now.”
Along with songwriting partner James Mtume, Lucas wrote some of the classiest soul music songs of the late 70s, many of which helped the formation of the urban adult contemporary genre that would dominate a decade later. Hits like “The Closer I Get to You” by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, and “I Never Knew Love Like This Before,” by Stephanie Mills, were monster smashes that have grown in stature to true classics.
The Queens, New York, born artist was obsessed with music of all kinds from childhood, and that impacted his expansive talent expressed in his work. He wrote, "At thirteen, I was jamming in small high school bands and listening to everything I could get my hands on. Psychedelic rock, funk, blues, jazz rock, soul, folk rock, you name it, I was into it. The sixties in NYC was a mecca for live music, and from the Fillmore to Central Park to Woodstock to the clubs in Greenwich Village, I was there." By age 17, he was working in "Me and Mrs. Jones" singer Billy Paul's band, and two years later joined the band of legendary jazz man Miles Davis. It was during a hiatus with Davis that Lucas was recruited by friend Mtume into Roberta Flack's backing band, and when their historic musical collaboration began.
Lucas also produced Madonna’s debut album and wrote her #1 hit "Borderline," helping to launch one of the biggest stars of the latter 20th Century. He also worked with such acts as Lou Rawls, The Four Tops, Randy Crawford and more. He also formed the band Sunfire, which had a brief recording career in the 1980s.
When a musical giant like Lucas dies at an age when many are still vibrant, it is always sad. But Reggie Lucas created so many happy moments for soul and pop music fans, that his work will be celebrated long after the sadness of today ends. Rest in peace, Mr. Lucas.
By Chris Rizik