Hitmaker Barrett Strong has died

Barrett Strong was tinkering with Ray Charles’s song on the piano when he wrote “Money (That’s What I Want),” which sold a million copies and helped ignite the Motown fortune.

Strong died at 81 on January 29, a week before his 82nd birthday.

Mr. Strong was an artist and songwriter who was present for the birth of Motown and played a key role in classic hits for the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and Edwin Starr.

Strong eventually went behind the scenes as a songwriter, teaming with producer Norman Whitfield in the mid-1960s to cowrite smash hits for Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & the Pips (“I Heard it Through the Grapevine”), Edwin Starr (“War”) and the Undisputed Truth (“Smiling Faces Sometimes”).

Mr. Strong was from West Point, Mississippi.