Motown legend and 'Money' singer Barrett Strong dies, aged 81

30 January 2023, 09:52


By Mayer Nissim

Barrett Strong wrote some of Motown's biggest and best songs, and also sung the label's first hit 'Money (That's What I Want)'.

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Motown legend and original singer of the classic hit 'Money (That's What I Want)' Barrett Strong has died at the age of 81.

News of the songwriting icon's passing was confirmed yesterday (January 29) on Twitter by the Motown Museum.

"It is with great sadness that we share the passing of legendary @ClassicMotown singer and songwriter Barrett Strong," the post read.

"The voice behind @motown's first hit, the iconic “Money (That’s What I Want),” was born in West Point, Mississippi on February 5, 1941 and was raised in Detroit."

Motown founder Berry Gordy added in a statement: "Barrett was not only a great singer and piano player, but he, along with his writing partner Norman Whitfield, created an incredible body of work."

Gordy co-wrote 'Money' with Janie Bradford and Strong recorded it for the Tamla label in 1959, reaching number two on the Hot R&B Sides chart and number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

It was memorably covered by The Beatles in 1963, who included it on their debut album Please Please Me.

The Rolling Stones covered it the following year, while The Flying Lizards put a new wave spin on the song in 1979.

Barrett Strong - Money (That's What I Want) (Official Audio)

While he didn't write his own hit 'Money', Strong went on to write the lyrics of many Motown classics in collaboration with Whitfield, who died in 2008.

Among the hits co-written by Strong were 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' – recorded by both Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & the Pips, 'War' by Edwin Starr' and 'Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)' by Paul Young.

Probably his best known work was for The Temptations, for whom he wrote a string of classic tracks, including 'Papa Was A Rollin' Stone', 'Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me), 'Cloud Nine', 'I Can't Get Next To You', 'Psychedelic Shack' and 'Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today), among others.

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