Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Songwriterobit: Norman Whitfield

Motown songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield has died.

Co-writing with Barrett Strong, Whitfield provided a rockier counterpoint to the songs provided by the label's other in-house team, Holland-Dozier-Holland and often took a political stance - Edwin Starr's War and The Temptation's Ball Of Confusion, as examples.

Whitfield and Strong shared a Grammy in 1972 (Best Song for Papa Was A Rolling Stone); Norman won in his own right four years later when his score for Car Wash pleased the judges.

More than a songwriter, Whitfield also produced many of the songs he wrote or co-wrote: he was behind the desk when Marvin Gaye sang I Heard It Through The Grapevine.

Whitfield died at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles yesterday. The 76 year-old had been in poor health for a while. In a sad twist, Barrett Strong is also hospitalised at the moment, recovering from a stroke in Detroit.