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Barrett Strong, Motown artist known for ‘Money,’ dies at 81

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Barrett Strong, Motown artist known for 'Money,' dies at 81

Barrett Strong, one of Motown’s founding artists and most gifted songwriters who sang lead on the company’s breakthrough single “Money (That’s What I Want)” and later collaborated with Norman Whitfield on such classics as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “War” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” has died. He was 81.

His death was announced Sunday on social media by the Motown Museum, which did not immediately provide further details.

“Barrett was not only a great singer and piano player, but he, along with his writing partner Norman Whitfield, created an incredible body of work,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a statement.

Strong had yet to turn 20 when he agreed to let his friend Gordy, in the early days of building a recording empire in Detroit, manage him and release his music. Within a year, he was a part of history as the piano player and vocalist for “Money,” a million-seller released early in 1960 and Motown’s first major hit. Strong never again approached the success of “Money” on his own, and decades later fought for acknowledgement that he helped write it. But, with Whitfield, he formed a productive and eclectic songwriting team.

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While Gordy’s “Sound of Young America” was criticized for being too slick and repetitive, the Whitfield-Strong team turned out hard-hitting and topical works, along with such timeless ballads as “I Wish It Would Rain” and “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me).” With “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” they provided an up-tempo, call-and-response hit for Gladys Knight and the Pips and a dark, hypnotic ballad for Marvin Gaye, his 1968 version one of Motown’s all-time sellers.

As Motown became more politically conscious late in the decade, Barrett-Whitfield turned out “Cloud Nine” and “Psychedelic Shack” for the Temptations and for Edwin Starr the protest anthem “War” and its widely quoted refrain, “War! What is it good for? Absolutely … nothing!”

“With ‘War,’ I had a cousin who was a paratrooper that got hurt pretty bad in Vietnam,” Strong told LA Weekly in 1999. “I also knew a guy who used to sing with (Motown songwriter) Lamont Dozier that got hit by shrapnel and was crippled for life. You talk about these things with your families when you’re sitting at home, and it inspires you to say something about it.”

Whitfield-Strong’s other hits, mostly for the Temptations, included “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “That’s the Way Love Is” and the Grammy-winning chart-topper “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” (Sometimes spelled “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”). Artists covering their songs ranged from the Rolling Stones (“Just My Imagination”) and Aretha Franklin (“I Wish It Would Rain”) to Bruce Springsteen (“War”) and Al Green (“I Can’t Get Next to You”).

Strong spent part of the 1960s recording for other labels, left Motown again in the early 1970s and made a handful of solo albums, including “Stronghold” and “Love is You.” In 2004, he was voted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, which cited him as “a pivotal figure in Motown’s formative years.”

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Whitfield died in 2008.

The music of Strong and other Motown writers was later featured in the Broadway hit “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.”

Strong was born in West Point, Mississippi and moved to Detroit a few years later. He was a self-taught musician who learned piano without needing lessons and, with his sisters, formed a local gospel group, the Strong Singers. In his teens, he got to know such artists as Franklin, Smokey Robinson and Gordy, who was impressed with his writing and piano playing. “Money,” with its opening shout, “The best things in life are free/But you can give them to the birds and bees,” would, ironically, lead to a fight — over money.

Strong was initially listed among the writers and he often spoke of coming up with the pounding piano riff while jamming on Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” in the studio. But only decades later would he learn that Motown had since removed his name from the credits, costing him royalties for a popular standard covered by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many others and a keepsake on John Lennon’s home jukebox. Strong’s legal argument was weakened because he had taken so long to ask for his name to be reinstated. (Gordy is one of the song’s credited writers, and his lawyers contended Strong’s name only appeared because of a clerical error).

“Songs outlive people,” Strong told The New York Times in 2013. “The real reason Motown worked was the publishing. The records were just a vehicle to get the songs out there to the public. The real money is in the publishing, and if you have publishing, then hang on to it. That’s what it’s all about. If you give it away, you’re giving away your life, your legacy. Once you’re gone, those songs will still be playing.”

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Relatives taunted me for joining showbiz world, Sadia Imam

Relatives taunted me for joining showbiz world, Sadia Imam

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Relatives taunted me for joining showbiz world, Sadia Imam

Recently, renowned Pakistani actor Sadia Imam talked about taunts she received from her relatives after joining the showbiz industry.

She recently participated in a private TV show and spoke openly about various topics including her career and marriage.

Talking about marriage, she said that after joining the showbiz industry, the first taunt came from her own relatives as they said she would not get married and even if she does, it would be with an already married person.

She said that before marriage, her parents used to hear such things every day and she has seen them going through agony due to these uncalled for remarks.

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However, she said,”I remained steadfast and told my parents that I would marry whomever they chose but work is my priority,” Imam said.

Talking about her husband, she said she married a young man and now they both have beautiful children.

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Amitabh Bachchan gifts his bungalow to daughter Shweta Nanda

Amitabh Bachchan gifts his bungalow to daughter Shweta Nanda

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Amitabh Bachchan gifts his bungalow to daughter Shweta Nanda

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and his wife Jaya Bachchan gifted their bungalow in Mumbai’s Juhu, Prateeksha, to their daughter Shweta Nanda.

The bungalow in the Vitthalnagar Cooperative Housing Society is spread over two plots measuring 674 square metres and 890.47 square metres, which are collectively valued at approximately Rs50.63 crore. 

Two separate gift deeds were signed on Nov 8, and a stamp duty of Rs50.65 lakh was paid for the registration of the deed.

The Bollywood megastar and his family lived in Prateeksha for many years at the beginning of his career. 

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He also owns two other bungalows in Juhu – Jalsa and Janak.

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Salman Khan’s torn shoes trigger gossip on social media

Salman Khan’s torn shoes trigger gossip on social media

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Salman Khan's torn shoes trigger gossip on social media

Bollywood superstar Salman Khan recently won hearts when he stepped out to attend ‘Farrey’ screening, where he was seen wearing a pair of torn, faded shoes. 

While Salman looked his usual dapper self in a dark shirt and a pair of formal pants, it was his shoes that caught everyone’s attention. 

One fan wrote, “New trend will start.” 

Another mentioned, “Well, those shoes might be comfortable for him !!” “He is Salman Khan. He doesn’t need to show off,” reacted yet another user on social media.

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Salman was attending the Farrey screening, where he had also invited a bunch of celebrities.

At the event, he also posed with his Tiger 3 co-star and close friend, Katrina Kaif. 

Katrina and Salman were last seen sharing screen space in the Maneesh Sharma directorial, Tiger 3. 

The film, despite receving mixed reviews from the critics, has done a great business for itself at the ticket counter.

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