Barrett Strong Biography

5 February 1941, Westpoint, Mississippi, USA. The cousin of two members of the R&B vocal group the Diablos, Barrett Strong launched his own singing career with Berry Gordy’s fledgling Tamla label in 1959. At the end of that year, he recorded the original version of Gordy’s song ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’, a major US hit that became a rock standard after it was covered by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Strong also wrote Eddie Holland’s US hit ‘Jamie’ in 1961. Later that year, Strong briefly joined Vee Jay Records, but he returned to the Motown Records stable in the early 60s to work as a writer and producer. He established a partnership with Norman Whitfield from 1966-73; together, the pair masterminded a series of hits by the Temptations, with Strong contributing the powerful lyrics to classics such as ‘Cloud Nine’, ‘Just My Imagination’ and ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’.

Strong left Motown in 1973 to resume his recording career, finding some success with ‘Stand Up And Cheer For The Preacher’ on Epic, and ‘Is It True’ on Capitol Records in 1975. He lacked the distinctive talent of the great soul vocalists, however, and seems destined to be remembered for his backroom work at Motown rather than his own sporadic releases.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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