James Mtume, the creative force behind the band Mtume, has passed away at the age of 76.
According to a Twitter post by a close friend’s daughter, Lisa Lucas, he passed away on Sunday.
“So much loss. So much grief. Rest in power to Uncle Mtume. My late father’s partner in crime. The co-creator of the songs of my life (and about my birth!). He was [an] essential part of the life of the man who made me, therefore me too. Gone now. He will be dearly, eternally missed.”
So much loss. So much grief. Rest in power to Uncle Mtume. My late fathers partner in crime, the co-creator of the songs of my life (and about my birth!). He was essential part of the life of the man who made me, therefore me too. Gone now. He will be dearly, eternally missed. https://t.co/juDFpQBkMb
— Lisa Lucas (@likaluca) January 9, 2022
Mtume’s most notable hit was “Juicy Fruit,” which dropped in 1983. For eight weeks, the single topped the Billboard R&B charts in the #1 spot. However, it only peaked at #26 on the Billboard 200 charts.
The 76-year-old percussionist, producer and songwriter (born James Forman) was a Philly native and started his career in the 70s. He was a prominent figure in the commercial jazz and R&B world– playing with Herbie Hancock, Lonnie Liston Smith and Miles Davis. Mtume also co-wrote “The Closer I Get To You,” sung by the incomparable Roberta Flack and the legendary Donnie Hathaway. He also co-produced the Grammy Award-winning song “Never Knew Love Like This.”
During the 2010s, Mtume sued Sony Music to reclaim the rights to his recordings from 1978 to 1983. “Juicy Fruit” is included in the series of music the producer regained. After Sony tried to keep him entangled in paperwork, he defeated the music giant.
On social media, fans responded to Mtume’s death with respect and love for the esteemed musician.
Rest In Power to the great James Mtume. The South Philly native & prodigal son, Jazz ROYALTY (the son of the great Jimmy Heath) and music trailblazer & pioneer. His passing is truly a monumental loss. Let’s look at some of Mtume’s music and legacy through the years, as a THREAD: pic.twitter.com/CQyJZLzwMs
— COSMO BAKER (@CosmoBaker) January 9, 2022
— LALAH (@lalahhathaway) January 9, 2022
RIP James Mtume – Jazz musician who worked with Miles Davis from 1971-75. Mtume’s R&B group, Mtume, is best known for their hit song “Juicy Fruit”. He has written hits for Phyllis Hyman, Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway, Stephanie Mills, Mary J. Blige, Teddy Pendergrass & Inner City pic.twitter.com/t3i409ObLa
— Ave (@SebastianAvenue) January 9, 2022
James Mtume has passed, I don’t even have the words right now 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/wzxj9bTrK1
— rachelstewartjewelry (@RachelStewarts) January 9, 2022
Ain’t no discussion about sampling possible without the multi-genre brilliance of James Mtume, before & after Juicy Fruit. Of course, the afterlife of Juicy Fruit is otherworldly. Mtume created from his own soundbank of Black life, then spoke with drums & soulful synthesizers… pic.twitter.com/mdq48b04OK
— DJ Scholarship (@lynneedenise) January 9, 2022
No cause of death has been determined.