Barrett Strong Obituary, Death – According to Billboard and Rolling Stone, vocalist Barrett Strong, best known for delivering Motown Records its first hit with “Money (That’s What I Want),” as well as for the songs he penned for the Temptations, has passed away. Strong is also remembered for providing Motown Records its first hit. Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, has confirmed the singer’s passing. In a statement that he shared with Billboard, Gordy referred to his songs as “revolutionary.” There was no indication of what caused the death. Strong was 81 years old.
Barrett Strong was one of Gordy’s early performers and the man who sung his first major song. Gordy expressed his sadness at the news of Strong’s passing, saying, “I am devastated to hear of his loss.” “Barrett was not only a superb vocalist and piano player, but he also generated an extraordinary body of work, largely with the Temptations, along with his writing partner Norman Whitefield. This body of work was primarily with the Temptations. Their hit songs sounded revolutionary for their time and perfectly caught the spirit of the era in which they were released, such as “Cloud Nine” and “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today),” which are both still relevant today.
Barrett Strong’s birthday is February 5th, and he was born in West Point, Mississippi, in 1941. Strong grew up in Detroit, the son of a factory worker and a housewife. He was one of the first performers to sign with Berry Gordy’s label, which was known as Tamla Records at the time. Strong’s parents worked in the factory. In 1959, Strong issued “Money (That’s What I Want),” which would become his most successful single. It was later recorded by artists such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin, and it was eventually sold in excess of one million copies.
Strong would go on to become a major songwriting force for Motown in the 1960s. He collaborated with producer Norman Whitfield on hits such as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye, “War” by Edwin Starr, and “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)” by Paul Young. Strong would go on to win a Grammy Award for his work. The musicians would go on to have some of their most successful collaborations with the Temptations, for whom they penned the songs “Psychedelic Shack,” “Cloud Nine,” and “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” The Temptations would go on to have some of their biggest singles. In 1971, “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” by the Temptations reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and in 1973, the duo won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for their song “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.”
By the late 1960s, Motown was already far into the process of relocating its headquarters to Los Angeles. Strong parted ways with the record company in 1972 in order to focus on his singing career in Detroit. He then signed with Epic and Capitol Records. Both his album from 1975, Stronghold, and his album from 1976, Live & Love, were issued by the latter company. In addition to that, he was a member of the Dells and worked as a songwriter for them. He also managed a production firm named Boomtown.
It is said that the musician never earned the appropriate royalty payments for his work as a songwriter, despite the fact that “Money (That’s What I Want)” was the song that brought Motown and Strong’s careers to the forefront of the national spotlight. In 2013, he was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “Songs outlive humans.” “The actual money is in the publishing, and if you have published, then hold on to it. If you don’t have publishing, then get some. That is the central focus of everything. If you give it away, you are essentially handing away your life and your legacy to the next generation. When you are no longer here, those songs will continue to be played.”