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Frank Wilson, the legendary producer for Motown who worked on music for The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, and more recently John Legend, died Thursday after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 71.
Wilson was born in Houston to James Wilson and Samantha Gibbs on December 5, 1940. He moved to Los Angeles in his teens to pursue a career as a musician, but ultimately found success as a producer with Motown Records in LA before transferring to their Detroit base in the mid-1960s.
As a singer, Wilson only released one record: the 1965 single “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do).” The record is so rare that in 2009 one of the few remaining copies was sold for more than $40,000 at an auction, making it the most expensive record ever sold at auction, according to the BBC.
Instead of singing, Wilson opted to focus his abilities on producing. Over the next decade, he churned out several hits, writing and producing songs such as Stevie Wonder’s “Castles In the Sand;” Diana Ross and The Supremes’ “Love Child,” “I’m Living in Shame,” “Up the Ladder to the Roof,” and “Stone Love;” The Temptations’ “All I Need;” Marvin Gaye’s “Chained;” and Four Tops’ “Still Water (Love).”
In 1976, Wilson left Motown to become a born-again Christian, according to AllMusic.com, though his song credits have continued up until present day, the most prominent of his recent music work being John Legend’s “Each Day Gets Better.”
Instead of music, Wilson began writing books. Before his death, Wilson became ordained as a minister and wrote two books: The Master’s Degree–Majoring in Your Marriage and Unmasking the Lone Ranger. He also appeared on numerous talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, and spoke at several churches and conferences worldwide.
Wilson is survived by his wife of more than 26 years, Bunny Wilson, and their six children.
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