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Wed, 02.05.1941

Barrett Strong, Songwriter and Singer born

Barrett Strong Jr.

*Barrett Strong Jr. was born on this date in 1941. He was a Black singer and songwriter.

He was born in West Point, Mississippi, the only boy in a family of six children born to Barrett Strong Sr., a minister. When he was four years old, his family moved to Detroit, Michigan, and his father bought him a piano soon after. Strong began singing at Hutchins Middle School in Detroit, where his classmates included Aretha Franklin and Lamont Dozier.

Strong was among the first artists signed to Berry Gordy's fledgling label, Tamla Records, and was the performer on the company's first hit single, "Money (That's What I Want)," which reached No. 2 US R&B in 1960. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. Strong claimed 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 inclusion was a clerical error.

In the mid-1960s, Strong became a Motown writer and 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," "War," and "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home);."  "Smiling Faces Sometimes," and the long line of records by the Temptations, including "Cloud Nine," "I Can't Get Next to You," "Psychedelic Shack," "Ball of Confusion," 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 marked the last Temptations single to feature original members.

After Motown moved its operations base to Los Angeles, California, Strong left the label and resumed his singing career. In the 1980s, Strong recorded "Rock It Easy" and wrote "You Can Depend on Me." He founded the Blarritt Records to provide opportunity and support for aspiring musicians in Detroit; he stated, "Young people were always coming to me: 'Can you help us get something going?' I thought, 'Wow, there's still so much talent here. They don't have anywhere to go.'"

In 2001, he released the album Stronghold II through Blarritt. Strong was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004. 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. Barrett Strong died at his home in San Diego, California, on January 28, 2023, aged 81.

To Become a musician or Singer
To Become a Conductor or Composer


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