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Money Did Not Make Millions for Songwriter
It has been over 50 years now since Barrett Strong penned Motown's first super hit in 1959, "Money (that's what I want)". Barrett recorded it then. Some royalties were gained but by 1962, his name as its writer, disappeared from the credits. In 1962, The Beatles had discovered the song when a friend brought it over one day for John to hear on a 45. From that moment onward, it became the standard rock signature song of the virtually little band in Liverpool. It was taylor perfect for John's raspy voice and screaming and the chorus (that's what I want) that were vibrantly sung by George and Paul into a single mike. The Beatles' rendition of this song remains what all covers aspire to because it is perfection.
However, its writer would have to wait many years for royalties because by 1964, when The Beatles released on their LP, Barrett's name was gone from the credits. The royalties generated by this song ran into millions because The Rolling Stones also covered it. Yet, Barrett never saw any of those royalties. His name had been removed by the executives of Motown Records who disputed that he was the writer, although the original 1959 copyright clearly shows otherwise.
From 1962 to 87, Barrett had no idea this had happened because it was hidden from him and felt the song's heyday had long gone. Now. Barrett is trying to re-establish his ownership of the song but have been blocked by a provision of copyright law that says he relinquished his rights to the song by failing to act in a timely fashion to contest Motown's claim. Well, that was 50 years too late! Motown had removed his name and added others back in 1962 and the copyright office does not notify authors of such changes. In 1987, his name was restored to the copyright only to have it removed again in 1988 by Motown.
Barrett also wrote another song The Beatles covered in 1963, "Misery" and the 60's, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", in the 70's, there was "War".
Barrett was part of the Berry Gordy team that started Motown Records.