Leon Ware

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Leon Ware
Background information
Born(1940-02-16)February 16, 1940
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
DiedFebruary 23, 2017(2017-02-23) (aged 77)
Marina del Rey, California, U.S.
GenresR&B, soul, disco, funk, jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, piano, keyboards
Years active1967–2017
LabelsGordy, United Artists, Fabulous, Elektra, Expansion, Stax, P-Vine

Leon Ware (February 16, 1940 – February 23, 2017)[1] was an American songwriter, producer, composer, and singer. Besides a solo career as a performer, Ware was best known for producing hits for other artists including Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Maxwell, Minnie Riperton and Marvin Gaye, co-producing the latter's album, I Want You.


Leon Ware was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, United States.[1] In his teens, he was a member of a vocal group, the Romeos, with Lamont Dozier and Ty Hunter (later of the Originals).[2] After a period at ABC Records he started his career as a songwriter at Motown in 1967.[2] He co-wrote for the Isley Brothers, Martha & the Vandellas and the Jackson 5. In 1971, he collaborated with Ike & Tina Turner, co-writing six songs on their United Artists album, Nuff Said. The album reached the #21 on the Billboard R&B chart and also appeared on the Billboard 200. This led to a contract as a solo artist on United Artists where he released his self-titled debut album in 1972.[3] Around this time, Ware began collaborating with Arthur "T-Boy" Ross, younger brother of Diana Ross. One of the songs they wrote was "I Wanna Be Where You Are" recorded by Michael Jackson for his 1972 album, Got To Be There.[4] The single reached #2 R&B charts and peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.

Ware wrote for numerous artists during this period including Donny Hathaway and The Miracles. In 1974, Quincy Jones booked Ware as songwriter and performer for two songs off Jones' Body Heat album. The song, "If I Ever Lose This Heaven", hit the R&B charts in September of the year and was covered by the Average White Band. Ware worked with Minnie Riperton on Jones' album and collaborated again on Riperton's album, Adventures in Paradise album, composing Riperton's R&B hit, "Inside My Love". Ware and T-Boy Ross worked on demos for Ware's second album, this one to be issued on Motown and also for T-Boy Ross to win a deal.[4] One of the demo recordings, "I Want You", was heard by Berry Gordy, who decided the song would be a good fit for Marvin Gaye.[4] Gaye heard the other demos and decided to record much of it on what would be his next album, I Want You.[4] Buoyed by the number-one title track, the album peaked at number-one on the R&B charts and reached the top ten of the Billboard 200 and sold over a million copies.

Having given away the material for his album, Ware began again on a solo effort for Motown's Gordy label. The result would be Ware's second album, Musical Massage. Released in September 1976, the album failed to chart and was not properly promoted.[4] Ware produced the Shadows In The Street album for the group Shadow, which was released in 1981.[5] Ware continued his songwriting and producing career while also releasing solo albums between 1979 and 2008. During that period, Ware wrote for Teena Marie, Jeffrey Osborne, Loose Ends, James Ingram, Melissa Manchester, Krystol, Bobby Womack and Lulu, co-writing the latter's European hit, "Independence" in 1993. Ware contributed to singer Maxwell's 1996 debut album Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite by co-writing "Sumthin' Sumthin'". The album is considered one of the landmark albums of the neo-soul genre. At the time of that success, Ware's earlier work became a heavy source of samples in hip-hop music.[6]

As of 2009, Ware was recovering from treatment for prostate cancer, and credited his friend and fellow songwriter Adrienne Anderson with directing him to appropriate medical care.[7] He died in Marina del Rey, California on February 23, 2017 from complications of prostate cancer. He was 77.[1][8]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions[9] Record label
1972 Leon Ware (1972) United Artists
1976 Musical Massage Gordy
1979 Inside Is Love 62 Fabulous
1981 Rockin' You Eternally Elektra
1982 Leon Ware (1982)
1987 Undercover Sling Shot Records
1995 Taste the Love Expansion
2001 Candlelight
2003 Love's Drippin P-Vine
2004 A Kiss in the Sand Kitchen Records
2008 Moon Ride Stax
2014 Sigh P-Vine
2019 Rainbow Deux Be With Records
"—" denotes the album failed to chart

Charted singles[edit]

Date Title US R&B
1979 What's Your Name 42
1981 Baby Don't Stop Me 66
Rockin' You Eternally 74

Songwriting credits[edit]

Ware wrote and co-wrote dozens of songs for various artists, some of his credits include:


  1. ^ a b c Sandomir, Richard (March 2, 2017). "Leon Ware, Producer Who Worked With Marvin Gaye, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Not Forgotten", Record Collector, No. 466, May 2017, p. 142
  3. ^ Rys, Dan (February 24, 2017). "Renowned Soul Singer and Songwriter Leon Ware Dies at 77". Billboard.
  4. ^ a b c d e Leon Ware - Musical Massage (Motown Classic Albums re-issue) (CD liner notes). Motown Records. B0000789-02
  5. ^ Billboard September 12, 1981 Page 79 Billboards Recommended LPs Continued from page 74
  6. ^ Tsioulcas, Anastasia (February 24, 2017). "Leon Ware, Songwriter Behind Several R&B Powerhouses, Dies". NPR.
  7. ^ Interview With Leon Ware Archived 2010-05-04 at the Wayback Machine: "Still Riding High", published March 6, 2009; www.souljazzandfunk.com.
  8. ^ Spice, Anton (1940-02-16). "Soul legend Leon Ware dies aged 77". Thevinylfactory.com. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
  9. ^ "Leon Ware US albums chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
  10. ^ "Leon Ware Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 12 October 2019.

External links[edit]