Leon Haywood

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Leon Haywood
Birth nameOtha Leon Haywood
Born(1942-02-11)February 11, 1942
Houston, Texas, U.S.
DiedApril 5, 2016(2016-04-05) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresSoul, R&B, funk
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, arranger, record producer
Years active1963–2016
LabelsImperial, Decca, 20th Century, Columbia, MCA, Casablanca, Modern, Edge, Evejim

Otha Leon Haywood (February 11, 1942 – April 5, 2016) was an American funk and soul singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is best known for his 1975 hit single "I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You", which has been frequently sampled by musicians such as Dr. Dre (for his 1992 hit "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang") among others.


Born in Houston, he listened to the blues as a child and started playing piano at the age of three.[1] In his teens, he performed with a local group and worked as an accompanist to blues musician, Guitar Slim.[1] In the early 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he worked with saxophonist Big Jay McNeely.[1] McNeely arranged for him to record his first single, "Without a Love", an instrumental on the small Swingin' record label.[1] After that, he joined Sam Cooke's band as keyboardist until the singer's death.[1] Haywood next recorded two singles for Fantasy Records, and subsequently moved to Imperial Records, where he recorded the single "She's with Her Other Love", which made the R&B charts in 1965.[1][2]

Haywood was also part of two session bands organized by Los Angeles disc jockey Magnificent Montague which issued the instrumental hits "Hole in the Wall" (R&B No. 5/Pop No. 50, 1965) under the name of the Packers, and "Precious Memories" (R&B number 31, 1967) billed as the Romeos.[1] In 1967, Haywood secured his first solo hit with "It's Got to Be Mellow" (R&B No. 21 and Pop No. 63) on Decca Records.[1] He played on further recording sessions with the Packers and Dyke & the Blazers, then returned to recording under his own name.[3] He also established in 1967 a production company, Evejim, named after his parents.[4]

Haywood recorded, without too much success for the Fat Fish (Hollywood, Ca.) label in 1966 and 1967. Two singles from that source were given a UK release at the time on the Decca distributed Vocalion label but gathered few sales – "Skate a While" and "Ain't No Use".[citation needed]

He found only sporadic success as a singer, including with "It's Got to Be Mellow" and "Keep It in the Family".[1] After recording for Columbia Records, he moved over to MCA Records.[1] He emerged as a star in the 1970s by modifying his style to incorporate the emerging funk and disco idioms.[1] Haywood joined 20th Century Records in 1974 and was immediately successful, notably with "I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You"[1] (R&B No. 7/Pop No. 15, 1975), "Strokin' (Pt. II)" (R&B No. 13, 1976) and "Party" (R&B No. 24, 1978).[5] In 1980, Haywood revived the shuffle beat of 1950s rock and roll with "Don't Push It Don't Force It" (R&B No. 2 and Pop No. 49).[1] This single also reached No. 12 in the UK Singles Chart, where he is considered a one-hit wonder.[6]

Haywood is credited with writing the 1981 hit "She's a Bad Mama Jama" by Carl Carlton, which he produced in his own studio.[4] In 1983, he released the album It's Me Again, which featured a couple minor R&B hits. His last R&B chart record was "Tenderoni" (No. 22) in 1984,[1] but the accompanying album, Now and Then went unreleased (although the single was featured on a similarly-titled compilation album, Then & Now, which surfaced five years later).[7] After a few more chart singles, for Casablanca Records and Modern Records, Haywood's output failed to excite the public's taste.[1] In the late 1980s, he became associated in an executive/production capacity with the Los Angeles-based Edge Records. From the 1980s, he produced blues albums by Jimmy McCracklin, Clay Hammond, Ronnie Lovejoy, Buddy Ace and others on his own Evejim Records label.[3][4]

He died in his sleep on April 5, 2016, aged 74.[8]



  • The Mellow Mellow Leon Haywood (Galaxy, 1964)
  • Soul Cargo (Fat Fish, 1966)
  • It's Got to Be Mellow (Decca, 1967)
  • Back to Stay (20th Century, 1973)
  • Keep It in the Family (20th Century, 1974)
  • Come and Get Yourself Some (20th Century, 1975)
  • Intimate (Columbia, 1976)
  • Double My Pleasure (MCA, 1978)
  • Energy (MCA, 1979)
  • Naturally (20th Century, 1980)
  • It's Me Again (Casablanca, 1983)
  • Freaky Man (Evejim, 1994)


Year Single Chart Positions Record label
US Pop
1965 "She's With Her Other Love"
Leon Hayward
92 13 Imperial
1967 "It's Got to Be Mellow" 63 21 Decca
1968 "Mellow Moonlight" 92 35
1974 "Keep It in the Family" 50 11 20th Century
"Long As There's You (I Got Love)" 63
"Sugar Lump" 108 35
"Believe Half of What You See
(And None of What You Hear)"
94 21
1975 "Come an' Get Yourself Some" 83 19
"I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You" 15 7
1976 "Just Your Fool" 102 26
"Strokin' (Pt. II)" 101 13
"The Streets Will Love You to Death - Part 1" 107 63 Columbia
1977 "Super Sexy" 54 MCA
1978 "Double My Pleasure" 91
"Fine and Healthy Thing" 84
"Party" 24
1980 "Don't Push It Don't Force It" 49 2 12 20th Century
"If You're Lookin' for a Night of Fun
(Look Past Me, I'm Not the One)"
1983 "I'm Out to Catch"
Leon Haywood featuring Karen Roberts
27 Casablanca
"T. V. Mama" 83
1984 "Tenderoni" 22 Modern
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Soul Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 110/1. ISBN 0-85112-733-9.
  2. ^ "Leon Haywood Biography". Oldies.com. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. "Leon Haywood Biography". AllMusic.
  4. ^ a b c Dave Williams (2007). "The Evejim Records Story". Juke Blues. No. 64. pp. 24–29.
  5. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 187.
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 247. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. ^ "The Leon Haywood Story Then & Now". hiphoparchive.org. 1989. Retrieved March 12, 2022.
  8. ^ Legaspi, Althea (April 7, 2016). "R&B Singer Leon Haywood Dead at 74". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 307. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  10. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 347. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.

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