Barrett Strong: An Iconic Singer and Songwriter Passes Away

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Barrett Strong: An Iconic Singer and Songwriter Passes Away

The music world has lost one of its legends. Barrett Strong, the soulful singer, and songwriter known for his Motown hit "Money (That's What I Want)" and his songs written for the Temptations, passed away at the age of 81.

His death was confirmed by Motown founder Berry Gordy, who referred to his songs as "revolutionary" in a statement. The cause of death has not been made public.

An Original Member of the Motown Family

"I am saddened to hear of the passing of Barrett Strong, one of my earliest artists, and the man who sang my first big hit “Money (That’s What I Want)” in 1959," Gordy said in his 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, primarily with the Temptations. Their hit songs were revolutionary in sound and captured the spirit of the times like ‘Cloud Nine’ and the still relevant, ‘Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today).’ My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends.

Barrett is an original member of the Motown Family and will be missed by all of us." Barrett Strong was born on February 5, 1941, in West Point, Mississippi and grew up in Detroit, where he was one of the first musicians to be signed by Gordy's record company, Tamla Records.

He released his biggest hit, "Money (That's What I Want)" in 1959, which sold over a million copies and was later covered by many legendary artists, including The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin.

A Songwriting Force in the 1960s

In the 1960s, Strong became a major writing force for Motown, working with producer Norman Whitfield on several hits, such as Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," Edwin Starr's "War," and Paul Young's "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My)." Although "Money (That's What I Want)" launched Strong's career and Motown onto the national stage, he reportedly never received proper compensation for his contributions as a songwriter.

"Songs outlive people," Strong once said in an interview with The New York Times. "The real money is in publishing, and if you've got publishing, stick with it. That's what it's all about. If you give it, you give your life, your legacy.

When you leave, those songs will still be playing." Barrett Strong's soulful voice and songwriting talent will continue to live on through his music. He will be remembered as a true icon of the music industry and a pioneer of the Motown sound.