Monday, 6 February 2023

Celebrity Jukebox #67: Barrett Strong

It didn't seem like two minutes since I was eulogising Lamont Dozier, when last week came the news of Barrett Strong's passing. The top song I played for Lamont is just as fitting here...

Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong
Are here to make right every thing that's wrong

As a singer, Barrett Strong is best remember for the original version of Money (That’s What I Want), a song that would later be covered by both the Beatles & the Stones... not to mention The Flying Lizards. Berry Gordy claimed he wrote the tune, and removed Barrett's name from the songwriting credits... Barrett remembered it differently, but wasn't going to bite the hand that fed... even if it wasn't feeding half as much as it should have been.

Strong & Whitfield would get credit for many other classics though, including Papa Was A Rolling Stone, War, Wherever I Lay My Hat (with Marvin Gaye), and I Heard It Through The Grapevine.

But who, besides Billy Bragg, has paid lyrical tribute to Barrett Strong? Let's open up the jukebox and see.

Let's start with a "One-Man Punk Band" from Norway-via-West Virginia...

And if she wants to know what's wrong,
(Ask) my Tanqueray, and my Barrett Strong,
And if she lets me wait my turn
I'll show her all my 20 class A cigarette burns,

...and let's finish there too, more's the pity. Compared to Lamont, Barrett doesn't really get the lyrical tributes he deserves. Which I find odd, considering it's much easier to rhyme Strong that Dozier. So let's close with another Whitfield / Strong classic. RIP, Barrett.


  1. I hadn't heard of his passing Rol.Sad news.

  2. Heard of his passing last week and was surprised by how many classics he had written - I think I had assumed they were written by the singer or someone else (naughty Berry Gordy).


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