Richards had been battling esophageal cancer, according to a statement from Universal Music.
As leader of the Motown songwriting, arranging and producing team known as The Corporation, Richards was involved in writing and producing many Jackson 5 hits, the Universal Music release said. Those songs included the Jackson 5’s first three No. 1 hits – “I Want You Back,” ”ABC,” and “The Love You Save.”
He also co-wrote “Love Child” for Diana Ross & The Supremes, as well Ross’ solo “I’m Still Waiting.”
Other recording artists for whom Richards produced or wrote songs include Bobby Darin, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas.
He is survived by his wife, Joan Lussier, a brother and two nephews.