Ed Townsend

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For the American swimmer, see Ed Townsend (swimmer).

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.[1]


Townsend was born in Fayetteville, Tennessee and his family soon moved to Memphis where his father was pastor at an African Methodist Episcopal church.

The year Townsend graduated from high school, he was elected to the International American Methodist Episcopal Youth Council (IAMEYC) and traveled 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 Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #13. Later in 1958 he reached #59 with a rendition of "When I Grow Too Old to Dream".

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.[2] [3] [4]

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.[1]

Honored with a Purple Heart in the Korean War, Townsend is buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.



Year Album Record label
1959 Glad to Be Here Capitol Records
New in Town
1975 Now Curtom Records


Year Title Peak chart
Record Label B-side Album
1957 "Love Never Dies" Aladdin Records "Every Night"
"My Need for You" Dot Records "Tall Grows the Sycamore"
1958 "For Your Love" 13 7 Capitol Records "Over and Over Again"
"A Wo-Man's In-Tu-It-Ion" Carlton Records "In a Bordertown Cathedral"
"What Shall I Do?" Capitol Records "Please Never Change"
"When I Grow Too Old to Dream" 59 "You Are My Everything"
"Getting by Without You" "Richer Than I"
1959 "Lover Came Back To Me" "Don't Ever Leave Me" New in Town
"This Little Love of Mine" "Hold On" (BB #106)
"Be My Love" "With No One to Love"
1960 "Stay with Me
(A Little While Longer)"
101 Warner Bros.
"I Love Everything About You"
1961 "Dream World" "Cherrigale"
"And Then Came Love" 114 Challenge Records "Little Bitty Dave"
1962 "You Walked In" "I Love to Hear That Beat"
"Tell Her" Liberty Records "Down Home"
1963 "That's What I Get for Loving You" "There's No End"
1964 "Crying" KT Records "Get Myself Together"
"I Love You" Maxx Records "I Might Like It"
1966 "I Want to Be with You" Tru-Glo-Town
"Don't Lead Me On"
1967 "Who Would Deny Me" MGM Records "Mommy's Never Comin' Back Again"
1977 "If a Peanut Farmer Can Do It
(So Can I)"
EGA Records "Take a Vow for Peace"


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.


  1. ^ a b Perrone, Pierre (December 25, 2005). "David Townsend - Singer with the soul trio Surface". Independent.co.uk - Obituaries. Retrieved April 24, 2009. 
  2. ^ J. M. Martin (15 August 2016). "Natural Resources". Oxford American, Issue 93, Summer 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "Mound Bayou Blues". Retrieved 18 August 2016. 
  4. ^ "Mound Bayou Blues historical marker". Retrieved 18 August 2016. 

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