James Mtume/Apollo Theater marquee Credit: Bill Moore photo

Jazz and R&B musician James Mtume has died. Born James Forman, Mtume founded the R&B group Mtume best known for the 1983 R&B song “Juicy Fruit.” He was 76.

Mtume’s death was confirmed on social media Sunday by his niece Lisa Lucas. The cause of death has not been announced.

“So much loss. So much grief. Rest in power to Uncle Mtume,” Lucas said. “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.”

Born in Philadelphia, Mtume was the son of jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath. In the 1970s, Mtume worked with jazz musician Miles Davis. Throughout his career, Mtume was known as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist playing keyboards, percussion, drums, guitar bass guitar.

In 1981, Mtume and bandmate Reggie Lucas won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for writing and producing Stephanie Mills’ hit song “Never Knew Love Live This Before.”

In New York City, Mtume was also on-air talent on KISS 98.7 FM as one of the original hosts of the talk show “Open Line.”

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