Motown legend Barrett Strong dies aged 81
Motown legend Barrett Strong has died aged 81.
The ‘Money (That’s What I Want” singer’s passing was announced on Sunday (29.01.23) by the Motown Museum – no details about the circumstances were not shared – by he was praised for his work with his writing partner Norman Whitfeld, who died in 2008.
Berry Gordy, the record label founder who gave Barrett his big break said: “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.”
Barrett was born in West Point, Mississippi before moving to Detroit – the home of the label that also gave the world Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and many others – and after becoming a self-led musician, he founded a gospel group with his sisters before meeting the people who would shape his career.
In 2013, the ‘Heard It Through the Grapevine’ writer admitted his songs will “outlive” him after he embarked on a legal battle to be listed on the credits of Ray Charles hit ‘What I’d Say’ after already boasting a back catalogue including Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ anda many hits for the Temptations.
He said: “Songs outlive people. The real reason Motown worked was the publishing. The records were just a vehicle to get the songs out there to the public. The real money is in the publishing, and if you have publishing, then hang on to it. That’s what it’s all about. If you give it away, you’re giving away your life, your legacy. Once you’re gone, those songs will still be playing.”
In 2004, The ‘Love is You’ hitmaker – who left Motown in the 70s – was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame after being deemed “a pivotal figure in Motown’s formative years.”