Barrett Strong – born Barrett Strong Jr. on February 5, 1941, in West Point, Mississippi – was a soul and R&B singer, songwriter, and musician best known for his 1959 hit single “Money (That’s What I Want)” – the first hit for Berry Gordy’s Tamla Records and Anna Records – and for co-writing hits such as “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Born the son of a pastor in Mississippi, his family relocated to Detroit, Michigan when he was four and he began playing piano. While attending Hutchins Middle School, he sang with fellow classmates Aretha Franklin and Lamont Dozier. In 1958, he was one of the first artists signed to Berry Gordy’s Tamla Records label – a precursor to Motown – and released the single “Money (That’s What I Want),” which began to receive heavy airplay. Berry then leased the song to his Anna Records label and it became a massive hit, selling more than one million copies. The song has been covered many times over the years, most notably by The Beatles and The Flying Lizards, who scored a surprise hit with their experimental 1979 recording of it. Barrett Strong was unable to match the success of the song as an artist, so he focused his attention on songwriting. Working with producer Norman Whitfield, he co-wrote some of Motown’s most iconic tracks including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (Marvin Gaye / Gladys Knight & The Pips), “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)” (Marvin Gaye / Paul Young), “War” (Edwin Starr), “Smiling Faces Sometime” (The Undisputed Truth), and a series of hits for The Temptations: “Ball of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today),” “Psychedelic Shack,” “Cloud Nine,” and the Grammy Award-winning “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” Barrett Strong left Motown when the label relocated to Los Angeles, California and resumed his solo career. He released his debut solo album, Stronghold, in 1975, which rose to Number 47 on Billboard’s R&B Albums chart. However, Live & Love (1976) was not a commercial hit and it took another 11 years before he returned with the album Love Is You (1987). He released his final solo album, Stronghold II, in 2001. He was admitted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004. Barrett Strong died on January 28, 2023, at the age of 81.