Feb. 5, 1941: Barrett Strong, one of Motown’s first signed artists, born today

1506582_1423562727884237_990660923_nOn this day in 1941, Barrett Strong is born in West Point, Mississippi. Strong will hold the distinction of being one of the first artists signed to Motown Records.

His soulful Money (That’s What I Want), a No. 2 R&B hit in 1960, will be considered the legendary label’s first hit. A skilled songwriter, Strong will collaborate on several compositions, including: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by both Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & the Pips; “War” by Edwin Starr and “Smiling Faces Sometimes” by the Undisputed Truth. He will help to pen some of the Temptations’ biggest tunes, including: “Cloud Nine,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Psychedelic Shack,” “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today),” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.”

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman, the author of On this Day: African-American Life in Detroit, is a native Detroiter and former news reporter. He served on the Detroit Charter Revision Commission. He lives in Detroit with his wife, Kim Trent, and their son, Jackson Coleman.