Barrett Strong, lead singer of Motown’s first hit, dies

He was a voice. Barrett Strong, historic pillar of the Motown label, has died at the age of 81, the Motown Museum announced on Sunday. “It is with immense sadness that we announce the passing of legendary Motown singer and songwriter Barrett Strong,” wrote on Twitter the museum based in Detroit (north).

Born in Mississippi, he grew up in the American capital of the automobile and was released in 1959 Money (That’s What I Want)the first hit of Motown, a major black record company that would gain immense influence on soul, rhythms and blues and beyond.

Along with another Motown Records producer, Norman Whitfield, he would co-write the label’s other big hits, including I Heard It Through the Grapevinemade famous by Marvin Gaye in 1968, from Papa was a Rollin’ Stone in 1972, and tracks from the Temptations like Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) (1971).

His songs written with Norman Whitfield “were groundbreaking in their sound and embodied the spirit of that era,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said Sunday, quoted by the trade magazine Billboard. “Barrett was a founding member of the Motown family, and he will be greatly missed,” he added.

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