Barrett Strong Biography

Barrett Strong delivered Motown’s first hit


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Papa Was A Rolling Stone

Barrett Strong

There are two sides to Barrett Strong’s career. The first as an artist that recorded Motown’s first hit ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ in 1959. A song written by the president of Motown, Berry Gordy.

‘Money’ was Barrett and Motown’s first hit song and has since been covered by The Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Rolling Stones and many Motown/Soul bands on a weekly basis.

As important as this was to kick start the label, Barrett’s strongest part of his career came in terms of the lyrics he wrote for other artists.

Perhaps most notably ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, ‘War’, ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)’, and ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”.

Most of Barrett’s hits were created alongside producer Norman Whitfield.

When Motown relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles, Barrett stayed behind and even though he has remained active, the glory days were behind him the day he walked away from the Motown factory.

Strong received a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1973 for ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’.

Related Pages

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Guitar Lesson

‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ is a Motown classic with a very clever chord progression.

All chords are as if from the key of Eb with just one chord being different, the Eb is a minor.

In the course, I’ll talk you through all sections one by one using video lessons, TAB, and live band loops.

Finally, you get to play the entire song with a live band!

Preview video lessons: I Heard It Through The Grapevine

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Lyrics

I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew
‘Bout your plans to make me blue
With some other guy you knew before
Between the two of us guys you know I loved you more
It took me by surprise I must say (took me by surprise I must say)

For complete lyrics, go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Money (That’s What I Want) – Guitar Lesson

‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ is a song written by Motown Record Executive Berry Gordy. First performed by Barrett Strong, it has since been covered by many.

On the original, the main guitar riff stays as the rest of the band moves from F to Bb. This has not been maintained on most cover versions.

As you learn this in the course, I’ll show you several ways you could play this song, including how to improvise a solo.

Preview video lessons: Money (That’s What I Want)

Money (That’s What I Want) – Lyrics

The best things in life are free
But you can give them to the birds and bees
I need money (that’s what I want)
That’s what I want (that’s what I want)
That’s what I want (that’s what I want)

For complete lyrics, go to Money (That’s What I Want) lyrics.

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