Leon Haywood 1942-2016

Leon Haywood "Naturally"As a music fanatic growing up in the late 70s/early 80s (mostly listening to the entire Stevie Wonder catalog) and soon exploring the bars, clubs and discos of Cologne, a perfect night-out always depended on the best music mix: the cherished disco classics combined with seldom-heard pieces and new discoveries. In those “formative” years, I’ve heard a lot of dancefloor classics for the first time and many of them later became a part of my own DJ sets.

Even though I can’t remember where and when I’ve heard “Don’t Push It Don’t Force It” for the first time, the song was an essential part of those long club nights out on the town. Leon Haywood had a number 49 hit with the song on the Billboard charts in 1980 (and a number 2 on the R&B charts) and I bought the LP in the mid-80s in some record store in Amsterdam. It was later that I found out about Leon’s earlier tracks like the immortal “Keep It In The Family”, “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You” (later sampled by Dr. Dre and about a million others), or “Come And Get Yourself Some” (from 1974 and 1975). In 1983, Leon had my attention again with the overlooked, but timeless “I’m Out To Catch” from his “It’s Me Again” LP; the song featured the irresistible Karen Roberts on vocals. Leon also produced and wrote the classic “She’s A Bad Mama Jama” by Carl Carlton a couple of years earlier.

Leon started out working with Big Jay McNeely and Sam Cooke, had his first charted single in 1965 with “She’s With Her Other Love” and disbanded the record business after the mid-80s, only to come back and produce several blues acts like Jimmy McCracklin in the 1990s.

Leon Haywood died on April 5th in Los Angeles at the age of 74. R.I.P.



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