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Barrett Strong, Motown singer and songwriter, dies at 81

By Annie Martin,


Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Motown singer and songwriter Barrett Strong has died.
Barrett Strong, seen here at the 2004 Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremonies in New York where he was inducted, died Sunday. File Photo by Ezio Petersen/UPI

Strong died Sunday in Detroit, Mich., according to Billboard. He was 81.

The Motown Museum confirmed Strong's death on Twitter.

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of legendary @ClassicMotown singer and songwriter Barrett Strong.

The voice behind @motown 's first hit, the iconic "Money (That's What I Want)," was born in West Point, Mississippi on February 5, 1941 and was raised in Detroit. — Motown Museum (@Motown_Museum) January 30, 2023

As a singer, Strong was the first artist to record a hit song for Motown. He released the single "Money (That's What I Want)" in 1959.

As a songwriter, Strong wrote or co-wrote hits for the Temptations, Marvin Gaye , Gladys Knight & the Pips, Edwin Starr and other artists.

His credits include "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "War," "I Can't Get Next to You" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone."

"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 ... Barrett was not only a 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 ... Barrett is an original member of the Motown Family and will be missed by all of us," Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. said in a statement.

Strong received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Songwriters in 1990 and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004.

"Barry has left his indelible stamp not only on Motown and the Temptations, but on music history in general," Temptations founder Otis Williams said in a statement . "His distinguished legacy of chart epitomizes the golden age of Motown. Our Motown family has lost a beloved brother and extraordinary songwriter. My thoughts and prayers go out to Barrett's son and loved ones."

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