Edward Benjamin 'Ed' Townsend (April 16, 1929 – August 13, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, producer and attorney. He was best known for performing his composition, "For Your Love," a rhythm and blues doo wop classic, and as the co-writer of "Let's Get It On" with Marvin Gaye.
The year Townsend graduated from high school, he was elected to the International American Methodist Episcopal Youth Council (IAMEYC) and travelled worldwide before enrolling in college the next year at Arkansas State College. After graduating, he taught for a year. Although he never formally practiced law, he frequently used his law training to assist other entertainers in negotiating their recording and performance contracts.
In 1951, Townsend joined the United States Marine Corps and served in Korea. After his discharge, he recorded a number of singles for various labels, none of which made the charts. In 1958, he took his ballad, "For Your Love" to Capitol Records, hoping to interest Nat “King” Cole, but, impressed with his voice, Capitol signed him to record it himself. Dick Clark had just started American Bandstand on television and invited Townsend to sing the first month the show aired. He was an overnight success and the song shot up the US pop chart, reaching #13.
Townsend had no further vocal hits of his own. In 1962, he wrote a song for soul singer, Jimmy Holiday, "How Can I Forget?", which was later covered by Ben E. King. Then he wrote and produced Theola Kilgore’s "The Love Of My Man." He also composed "Tears Of Joy," "Hand It Over," "I Might Like It," "Since I Found You," and "Foolish Fool." In the early 1970s Ed Townsend teamed up with Marvin Gaye to write one of the biggest hits of all time, "Let's Get It On" from the album of the same title.
One of his most memorable performances was on the PBS television special "Rock, Rhythm, and Doo Wop" filmed at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 16 and 17, 2000. DVDs of the event were sold as fundraisers for PBS stations nationwide.
Ed's son David Townsend, of the band Surface, died at age fifty in 2005.
Townsend served as Composer for:
- The Ultimate Thrill (1974)
In the R&B world, he is best remembered for his work with Dee Dee Warwick on "I Wanna Be With You", "Foolish Fool" and "That's Not Love"
- ASCAP Biographical Dictionary. R. R. Bowker Co., 1980.
- Perrone, Pierre (December 25, 2005). "David Townsend - Singer with the soul trio Surface". Independent.co.uk - Obituaries. Retrieved April 24, 2009.