Legendary Producer and Musician James Mtume Passed Away

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.”


Mtume’s most notable hit was “Juicy Fruit,” which dropped in 1983. The single topped the Billboard R&B charts in the #1 spot for eight weeks. 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 the likes of 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 in an effort to reclaim the rights to his recordings from 1978 to 1983. “Juicy Fruit” is included in the series of music the producer regained. He defeated the music giant after Sony tried to keep him entangled in paperwork.

Fans responded to Mtume’s death with respect and love for the esteemed musician via social media. 


No cause of death has been determined.