American singer and one of Motown Records’ original hitmaker and songwriter for ‘Money, That’s What I Want’ and other soul classic songs, Barrett Strong, has died at age 81.

Barrett Strong, Motown trailblazer

News of Strong’s death was confirmed on Sunday January 29th , 2023, by the Motown Museum on Twitter by Berry Gordy, the founder, in a statement;

“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. 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”.

Strong was a pivotal figure in music during the late ’60s and early ’70s, both as a singer and a composer who contributed massive hits throughout Motown’s formative years. He was among Gordy’s first signings to the label, and performed their first hit, 1959’s “Money (That’s What I Want).” The track, which was originally released on Tamla, Gordy’s first label, was written by the Motown founder and his then-secretary, Janie Bradford.

He was the first artist to record a hit for Motown, although he is best known for his work as a songwriter, particularly in association with producer Norman Whitfield.

Story: Christy Dung