Barrett Strong was a singer in the release of “Money” (That’s the kind of thing I’m Looking For) in the year 1981. It was not clear that the track would eventually become his contribution to the songwritership of music. With collaborators such as the late Norman Whitfield, some of Motown’s greatest hits were created, such as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” for Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & the Pips, “War” for Edwin Starr and “Smiling Faces Sometimes” from the Undisputed Truth.
An extensive catalog of songs from The Temptations such as “I wish it Would Rain,” “Just My Imagination,” “Cloud Nine,” “Psychedelic Shack” and “Papa was a Rolling Stone,”” that earned Strong a Grammy Award, saw him move from performing to being a songwriter with ease. In the interview, Strong told Billboard: “I never felt secure being a recording artist” with the father of six and grandfather of six going on to become a governor “I was forced to work in order to support my family. I’m not looking for fame and glamorous things that go with it. It’s just me who likes to be in my studio and observe what transpires.
In a statement released on Sunday, Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. expressed regret over the passing of Barrett Strong, an early musician from Motown and whose collaboration together with Norman Whitfield created an impressive selection of original music, mainly attributed to “The Temptations”. Describing Strong being “shy” within his autobiography “To Be In Love”, Gordy commended the artist’s vocal and piano performance as well as the revolutionary music they created through their collaboration. He concluded that their songs are a reflection of their age.
As a longstanding member of the Motown Family, Barrett Strong is going to be greatly missed. Apart from the Grammy Award, Strong was awarded an Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Songwriters in and also was awarded the privilege of an induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in . BMI was also involved in a concert dedicated to Strong’s memory to celebrate his accomplishments. Born on Detroit’s West Side and the son of a housewife and Uniroyal employee. When he was a member of a gospel ensemble and a gospel choir, he performed with his four sisters. They toured with the local churches, in which Strong established relationships with music legends like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.
Wilson was the person who introduced Gordy and the Strongs to one another upon their arrival in town. The two formed an instant friendship as Strong often visited Gordy’s abode on the east city’s west side to talk about song ideas. Strong remembers how they would all sit around the piano, sing and play on every occasion. One day, Gordy notified him that He was impressed by his talent and declared that he wanted to work with his talent. Their first collaboration resulted in an original song titled “Let’s rock” or “Do the Very Best you Canthat got local airplay, but failed to achieve a huge impact nationally.
Janie And Gordy Bradford wrote the classic song “Money” (That’s the kind of thing I want). It became a Billboard Hot Top Hit and It was also a no. on the R&B charts. It is later covered by the Beatles and during the s by the avant-garde band The Flying Lizards. Regarding its origin the track has three distinct versions. Berry asserts the claim that “shy Strong” – who provided vocal accompaniment and piano accompaniment for the track – was not invited to the recording session, as he recounts in his memoir To Be Loved. Contrary to what is reported, Bradford claims that Gordy welcomed Strong to the space and requested Strong to “give me something” leading to the first piano tune.
The conclusion is that Berry Gordy as well as Roquel “Billy” Strong’s partnership was an inspirational journey that eventually led to the creation of Motown Music and countless hits from artists like the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes. Gordy recognized the potential of Strong and was willing to take him under his wing. This led to strong relationships that were fruitful due to their many successes. Their debut single, “Let’s Rock”/”Do the Very Best You Are able to”, is often overshadowed by their later successes But it was that early song that began the path to Motown Music.