Motown Songwriter Barrett Strong Dead at 81 -
Barrett Strong, Noise11, Photo

Barrett Strong

Motown Songwriter Barrett Strong Dead at 81

by Paul Cashmere on January 31, 2023

in News

Barrett Strong, the man who gave Motown an early hit with ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’* has died at the age of 81.

Strong also co-wrote the classics ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, ‘Just My Imagination’, ‘I Wish It Would Rain’, ‘Cloud Nine’ and ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’.

At the start of this story, ‘Money (That’s What I Want’ has a * after it because of a dispute where Strong was a co-writer, then not, then was again, and currently not. Strong was originally included as co-writer with Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford. His credit was removed three years after he released the song as a single in 1959. It was put back in 1987 but then removed the following year after co-writer and Motown founder Berry Gordy said the credit was included in error.

‘Money (That’s What I Want’ was recorded by The Beatles for their second album ‘With The Beatles’ album and The Rolling Stones on their 1964 self titled E.P.

Barrett’s original version of ‘Money (That’s What I Want’ reached no 23 on the US chart in 1959 and no 2 on the R&B chart giving Motown an early hit on the Tamla label. The single was the ninth release for the label and second single for Strong. His debut ‘Let’s Rock’, the fourth single for the label, was released in April, 1959. ‘Money’ was released in August, 1959.

“I was never comfortable with myself as a recording artist,” Strong says in the liner notes of the ‘Hitsville USA’ box set. “When I teamed with Norman Whitfield to write songs, I found all the confidence I needed. When I heard Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye and The Temptations sing my songs, I finally felt good about what I was doing”.

Barrett Strong was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004.

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