Born in 1942, Leon Haywood was an American singer, songwriter and producer best known for his 1975 release “I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You” (US R&B #7 and Pop Chart #15). The soul classic has gone on to be one of the most sampled songs in hip-hop history, such as Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin But A G Thang”, Mims’ “This Is Why I’m Hot” (US Pop Chart #1, UK #18 and ARIA #30) and “You Had Your Chance” from Mariah Carey’s multi-platinum selling album ‘Charmbracelet’.
Having maintained a career that spanned three decades, he spent his early years playing piano and performing as a keyboardist for Sam Cooke’s band, amongst other musical ventures. It wasn’t until 1967 that Haywood first moved into the limelight with breakthrough solo hit “It’s Got To Be Mellow” (US R&B #21 and Pop Chart #63), the first of 20 successes on the Billboard R&B chart.
Other hits followed in the 70s and 80s when Haywood’s solo career was in full swing, including “Long As There’s You (I Got Love)” in 1973 which was later sampled by American rapper Eve in “Eve of Destruction” (featured on the OST for the film Bulworth) and “Don’t Push It Don’t Force It”, a No. 12 UK Chart hit in 1980.
In the latter part of his career Haywood was a producer for other artists and the most successful of these collaborations generated “She’s A Bad Mama Jama”, an enormous smash hit for Carl Carlton (US Pop #22, UK Chart #34) in 1981 that earned him a Grammy nomination. The song’s signature bassline and chorus lyrics have been a source of inspiration for many producers, interpolated in releases such as “Big Bad Mamma” by Foxy Brown and Dru Hill (US Pop Chart #53, UK #12).