August 17, 2003 by

Ed Townsend


Categories: Musicians

Ed Townsend, a successful R&B songwriter, died on Aug. 13 of heart failure. He was 74.
Townsend, who was known as “Big Papa” to his friends, started singing as a child in the church choir. He graduated from Arkansas State College, then served two years in South Korea with the Marine Corps. While overseas, Townsend honed his singing skills with a troupe of traveling minstrels.
Upon his return to the states, Townsend moved to Los Angeles where he hosted a TV show and signed with Capitol Records to record the song, “For Your Love.” The single hit #13 on the Top 40 charts.
None of Townsend’s follow-up recordings for Capitol, Liberty, Tru-Glo or Warner Brothers sold well so he became a songwriter for other artists, including Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole and Etta James. In a career that spanned five decades, Townsend wrote over 200 songs, but he was best known for writing Gaye’s 1973 hit, “Let’s Get It On.”

3 Responses to Ed Townsend

  1. Pandora Patton

    I met Ed right after “Let’s Get It On” came out and we stayed close friends for several years. The original lyrics to “Let’s Get It On” went:
    “We are all sensitive people with so MUCH to give….”
    (and Marvin went ‘oh baby’)
    “Since we’ve got to be here, let’s LIVE…”
    “Let’s Get It On…”
    and the song was really about living and not dying.
    I am proud to have known him….
    I also remember…”If I should die tonight, though it be far before my time, I wouldn’t die alone, because I’ve known you.”

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