Leon Haywood Biography
An accomplished songwriter and arranger who periodically dented the charts in the 1970's, Haywood never pretended to be an innovator. His hits are cheerful derivations of '70's mid-tempo funk and romantic ballads, usually embellished by smooth string charts.
Haywood's roots extend way further back than the '70's. In the early '60's he toured and recorded with R&B saxophonist Big Jay McNeely's band (which also backed Sam Cooke on the road). In the mid-'60's, he had his first chart entry with "She's With Her Other Love" on Imperial. In 1967, he had a solid R&B hit (and small pop one) with "It's Got to Be Mellow," whose commercial soul sound betrayed his Motown influence.
He didn't come into his own as a solo artist until the mid-'70's, when he had big R&B hits with "Strokin'," "Come and Get Yourself Some," and "Keep It in the Family." His biggest single, "I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You", crossed over to the Top 20 pop listings. The disco-ish "Don't Push It Don't Force It" was his biggest splash, making number two R&B in 1980. After the mid-'80's, he eased out of the record business into business ventures; in the 1990's, he produced blues albums by Jimmy McCracklin and others on his own EveJim label.