'Money' singer wrote Motown hits like 'Grapevine' - The Hollywood Reporter

‘Money’ singer wrote Motown hits like ‘Grapevine’ – The Hollywood Reporter

More than 73 years ago, singer Barrett Strong proclaimed, “Money (That’s What I Want).” This is her first hit single for Motown Empire.

What he really got was musical immortality. as a songwriter.

Strong, who died in Detroit on Sunday, January 29, at the age of 81, co-wrote some of Motown’s most enduring hits and had various collaborators, primarily the late Norman Whitfield. ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ by Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & The Pips, ‘War’ by Edwin Starr, ‘Smiling Faces once’ by The Undisputed Truth, ‘I Wish It Could Rain’ by The Temptations contained a wealth of material. ‘, ‘Just My Imagination’, ‘Cloud Nine’, ‘Psychedelic Shack’ and ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’ earned Strong a Grammy Award.

The transition from performer to songwriter suited him perfectly. “Recording he was never satisfied with himself as an artist,” Strong told Billboard in 2016. I’m not looking for the spotlight and all the glamours and such. I just want to work in my own studio and see what I can do. ”

In a statement issued on Sunday, Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. said: Although a pianist, he produced great work with his writing partner Norman Whitfield, mainly on The Temptations. Their hits sounded innovative and captured the spirit of the times… Barrett was an original member of his Motown family that we will all miss. ”

In addition to the Grammy Award, Strong received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Songwriters in 1990 and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004. BMI celebrated his legacy at his 2016 special event.

The son of a Uniroyal factory worker and housewife, Strong grew up on the west side of Detroit, singing in gospel groups with his four sisters. They toured local churches and befriended stars like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke. “When they came into town, they would drop by the house and visit with us,” Strong recalled. “We were all sitting around the piano playing and singing.”

It was Wilson who introduced Gordy to Strong in 1957. One day Gordy said to Strong: I’m going to do something with you

The first to be released was the single “Let’s Rock”/”Do the Very Best You Can”, which received local airplay but had no national impact. However, “Money” became a Top 50 hit on her Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the R&B chart, later covered by The Beatles and in the ’80s by avant-garde group Flying His Lizards. . Gordy and Janie Bradford wrote the song, but he has three different stories about how it came to be.

In his memoir To Be Loved, Berry claims that Strong, “shy” who plays piano and sings on the track, attended the sessions “uninvited”. Meanwhile, Bradford remembers Gordy inviting Strong into his room and asking him to “give me something,” which became the song’s opening piano riff. strong? He remembers riffing on Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say?” and jamming on the piano. “I was playing and a little thing happened and people were like, ‘What’s that?!'” he says. “They said, ‘Let’s write the lyrics,’ and we made the song.”

The rest of Strong’s time at Motown was memorable. He recalls that Motown initially did not want “Grapevine” to be released. This is what the Chicago guy started writing during his brief tenure at Vee Jay Records. “They didn’t think it was a hit,” Strong said with a laugh. “The Miracles” actually he first recorded the song in 1966, and Gay recorded it the following year. However, it was Knight’s raucous version that was released first in September 1967, followed eleven months later by Gaye’s slowed-down groove. Knight reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 and Gaye topped the chart. Creedence Clearwater in his revival adapted his 11-minute version of “Grapevine” on his 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory, and California Raisin featured the song in his 1986 TV commercial, which was used by the cartoon group’s “Career “It was started.

“Just My Imagination”, on the other hand, was something of a doomed project after several other songs Strong and Whitfield wrote for the Temptations didn’t pan out. “I had to get the band back,” Strong said. “If we don’t come up with something, they’ll have someone else write it.” Stress aside, Strong had few positive memories of his songwriting heyday. “It was a great time,” he said. “We were just kids, we were doing it for fun, not for money. We were in the studio all day, enjoying our work.”

“People want money first today, and it’s understandable,” he said. “But we thought that if we put the product first and work hard, we would be rewarded. It was just the times.”

Strong left Motown in the early ’70s and resumed his playing career, recording for the Epic and Capitol labels. He also co-wrote the single for The Dells. For a time, Strong ran a production company in Detroit called Boomtown, mentoring and partnering with young artists, and released Stronghold II, his first album in 30 years, in 2010.

“You don’t quit. You just slow down,” Strong said in 2016. But you have to catch up too, and now you’re in a relationship with younger people. ”

Strong’s cause of death has not been disclosed. Funeral details are pending.

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.


Bakhtawar S Usmani

I am an all-rounder in a world full of barbies! Keeper of multiple birds and cats. I may make punctuation mistakes, but they come up for turning into a crore or two extra. Thus, a well-placed crore seems a better choice for me.

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