Barrett Strong (born February 5, 1941) is an American singer and songwriter. Strong 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. Among his most famous work at Motown, Strong wrote the lyrics for many of the songs recorded by the Temptations.
Strong was among the first artists signed to Berry Gordy's Motown corporation, and is the performer on the company's first hit, "Money (That's What I Want)", which reached No. 2 U.S. R&B in 1960. The single was originally released on Tamla, Motown's first label, but was then leased to the Anna label as it was getting airplay, and it was on Anna label that it was a hit. Strong's hit single "Money (That's What I Want)" was later recorded by a number of acts, including the Beatles, the Kingsmen,Richard Wylie and His Band, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Searchers, the Flying Lizards, the Sonics and Buddy Guy. Strong claims that he co-wrote "Money" with Gordy and Janie Bradford; his name appears on the song's original copyright registration with the United States Copyright Office. Gordy disputed these claims, stating that Strong's name was only included because of a clerical error.
In the mid 1960s, Strong became a Motown writer lyricist, teaming with producer Norman Whitfield. Together, they wrote some of the most successful and critically acclaimed soul songs ever to be released by Motown, including "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by both Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & the Pips; "War" by Edwin Starr; "Smiling Faces Sometimes" by the Undisputed Truth; and the long line of "psychedelic soul" records by the Temptations, including "Cloud Nine", "I Can't Get Next to You", "Psychedelic Shack", "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)", and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone", amongst others. Strong received a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1973 for "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone". Strong and Whitfield also co-wrote the ballad "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)", a 1971 Billboard No. 1 that also marked the last Temptations single to feature original members Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams.
After Motown moved its operations base from Detroit, Michigan, to Los Angeles, California, Strong left the label and resumed his singing career. He signed with Epic in 1972. Strong left the label for Capitol Records, where he recorded two albums in the 1970s.
In the 1980s, Strong recorded "Rock It Easy" on an independent label and wrote "You Can Depend on Me", which appeared on the the Dells' album The Second Time (1988). He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004.
Strong has re-released his latest album, Stronghold II, which he wrote and composed in collaboration with rocker/songwriter Eliza Neals in 2008, in digital format only.
In 2010, Strong appeared in "Misery", his first music video in his fifty years of recording music, co-produced by Eliza Neals and Martin "Tino" Gross with Strong at the helm.
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- 1975: Stronghold (No. 47 – Billboard Black Albums chart)
- 1976: Live & Love
- 1987: Love Is You
- 2008: Stronghold II
- 1959: "Money (That's What I Want)" / "Oh I Apologize" (No. 23 Pop / No. 2 R&B) – Tamla 54027 (re-released as Anna 1111)
- 1960: "Let's Rock" / "Do the Very Best You Can" – Tamla 54022
- 1960: "Yes, No, Maybe So" / "You Knows What To Do" – Tamla 54029 (re-released as Anna 1116)
- 1960: "Whirlwind" (with The Rayber Voices)" / "I'm Gonna Cry (If You Quit Me)" – Tamla 54033
- 1961: "Money and Me" / "You Got What It Takes"
- 1961: "Misery" / "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right"
- 1962: "Seven Sins" / "What Went Wrong" – ATCO 6225
- 1964: "I Better Run" – Tollie 9023
- 1973: "Stand Up and Cheer For The Preacher" – Epic
- 1975: "Surrender" – Capitol 4120
- 1975: "Is It True" / "Anywhere" – Capitol 4052