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James Mtume, who recorded 1983 number-one hit Juicy Fruit, dies at 76


James Mtume in January 1985; David Corio/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

James Mtume, who recorded the 1983 RIAA-certified Gold single “Juicy Fruit,” passed away Sunday, his publicist confirmed to ABC News. He was 76.

The Grammy winner began his career as a jazz percussionist, and recorded and toured with jazz legend Miles Davis in the 1970s. He later recorded five albums with his group, Mtume, including their third album, 1983’s Juicy Fruit. The title track topped the Billboard R&B singles chart for eight consecutive weeks, and went on to become one of the most-sampled songs in hip-hop, including on the Notorious B.I.G.‘s first hit, 1994’s “Juicy.”

James Mtume also composed and produced hits for several other artists with his partner, Reggie Lucas.  Mtume and Lewis’ credits include Stephanie Mills‘ Grammy-winning 1981 single, “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” and the Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway 1978 classic, “The Closer I Get to You.” Mtume and Lucas also recorded with Phyllis Hyman, Lou Rawls and The Spinners in the early 1980s.

Mills commented on Instagram, “I am saddened to hear of the passing of my dear friend and producer #JamesMtume. He was so brilliant and an amazing music mind. The work chemistry we had along with your writing partner Reggie Lucas was second to none. I know you two are about to reconnect and make amazing music. I will forever be grateful and I will continue to lift you up through our music. You will be missed.”

Mtume also co-produced Mary J. Blige‘s 1997 album, Share My World, served as a music supervisor for the ’90s TV series New York Undercover, and scored the 1986 film Native Son, starring Oprah Winfrey.


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