R.I.P. Leon Ware, hit songwriter for many, from Marvin Gaye to Maxwell

R.I.P. Leon Ware, hit songwriter for many, from Marvin Gaye to Maxwell
Leon Ware. Publicity photo.

Leon Ware, a celebrated and hit-making songwriter for Marvin Gaye, Minnie Riperton, Maxwell, the Isley Brothers, Quincy Jones, Bobby Womack, Lulu, Michael MacDonald, the Average White Band, Michael Jackson, and many more, has died at the age of 77.

According to NPR, the soul and R&B songwriter passed away yesterday. Ware was born in Detroit in 1940, and began writing for Motown when still in his twenties. In the mid 1970s, at the height of his career, the songwriter met and befriended Marvin Gaye, a collaboration on Gaye’s classic 1976 album I Want You. They both co-penned each track on there.

Ware had a string of his own solo releases. And though he was clearly talented, that side of his career never took off. Jon Pareles wrote in the New York Times, in a live review of a show from nine years ago, that Ware offered up "incantations delivered in weightless, improvisatory vocals above undulating grooves; they're entreaties of yearning and devotion," and called him "a preacher of sensuality in his pulpit."

About The Author

Mike McGonigal

Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...
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