Barrett Strong is an R&B singer/songwriter. He was born on February 5, 1941 in West Point, Mississippi. He is the first artist to record a hit on the then new Motown Records label. He is best remembered as a songwriter, along with Norman Whitfield they wrote many of The Temptations big hit records including the hits, PAPA WAS A ROLLIN’ STONE, JUST MY IMAGINATION and I CAN’T GET NEXT TO YOU. He also wrote the classic, I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE, that was a huge hit for both Gladys Knight & The Pips and Marvin Gaye.
He was one of the first artists signed by Berry Gordy’s Motown Records. He is the artist that recorded the first Motown hit, MONEY (That’s What I Want). The single was originally released on the Tamla record label, but was leased to the Anna label, as the record was getting air-play and became a hit on that label. It was later in 1960 that it was released on Tamla Records. MONEY (That’s What I Want) made its Billboard Hot 100 debut on February 1, 1960 and climbed up the pop chart to #23, it had a 17 stay on the Hot 100. The single did even better on the R&B chart, making its R&B debut on January 25, 1960. Barrett’s classic hit recording climbed the chart all the way to #2 and remained a charted hit for 21 weeks.
He was never able to duplicate the success of MONEY (That’s What I Want). There would be no other Pop hits, but he would chart R&B hits in 1973 with STAND UP AND CHEER FOR THE PREACHER on Epic Records and in 1975 with, IS IT TRUE on Capitol Records. In the mid 1960s he began writing hit after hit on Motown, for The Temptations, Edwin Starr, Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & The Pips. After Motown moved from Detroit, Michigan, to Los Angeles, California, Barrett left the label and resumed his singing career.
Barrett Strong’s classic hit…MONEY (That’s What I Want) has been covered by artists from Jerry Lee Lewis, The Searchers and The Beatles to mention just a few. His song is also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is listed at #288 on the Rolling Stone magazine list of the “500 Greatest Songs of Rock and Roll”. In 2004 Barrett was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is a legendary performer and songwriter…who’s hits written at Motown sold millions of records for the talented artists on the label.
Till the next time—Joe