“I Heard it Through the Grapevine” is considered one of the many songs that outline the Motown sound. Co-written by legendary songwriters and producers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Robust, the tune made its means round Motown Data all through the 1960s and have become a success for a lot of artists, most notably Marvin Gaye, who launched it as a single in 1968 and took it to No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard Scorching 100. Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Temptations, The Undisputed Reality and The Miracles are a few of the different artists who’ve lent their voices to the timeless tune.
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Born and raised in Harlem, New York, in 1940, Whitfield moved to Detroit, Michigan, as a young person along with his household, setting the stage for his future success in music. In the 1960s, he joined Motown Data, based by Berry Gordy in Detroit in 1958, as a songwriter and producer. His tenure with the label helped set up his legacy as considered one of the creators of the Motown Sound and psychedelic soul. He wrote numerous hits for Gaye, The Temptations, Gladys Knight & the Pips and others.
Gaye’s “Satisfaction and Pleasure,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Magnificence is Solely Pores and skin Deep,” “(I Know) I’m Shedding You” and “I Want it Would Rain” are a few of the many chart-toppers he penned for The Temptations, whereas he took Knight & the Pips to the high of the charts with “It Ought to Have Been Me,” “Friendship Practice,” “You Want Love Like I Do (Don’t You)” and others. Rose Royce, Edwin Starr and The Undisputed Reality are a few of the different artists who reduce Whitfield’s songs.
Robust was born in West Level, Mississippi, in 1941. Like his future collaborator, Robust moved along with his household to Detroit when he was a baby the place he attended Hutchins Center Faculty with Aretha Franklin and future hit Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier. Robust was signed to Motown Data in 1959 as an artist, establishing himself as a key participant when he recorded “Cash (That’s What I Need),” written by Gordy and Janie Bradford. The tune grew to become the first hit for the label (then often called Tamla Data). “Cash (That’s What I Need)” hit No. 2 on the Billboard Scorching R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and reached the high 25 on the Billboard Scorching 100 in 1960.
In the mid-1960s, Robust turned his consideration to songwriting, changing into frequent collaborators with Whitfield. The 2 proved to be a powerhouse duo crafting such hits as Gaye’s “The place I Lay My Hat,” Jimmy Ruffin’s “Gonna Give Her All the Love I’ve Received.” The Temptations’ “Cloud 9,” “Simply My Creativeness,” Starr’s “Struggle” and The Undisputed Reality’s “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” are a few of the different genre-defining hits they wrote collectively along with “Grapevine.”
In 1975, Whitfield parted methods with Motown Data to start out his personal label, Whitfield Data, the place he produced Methodology to the Insanity by The Undisputed Reality, In Full Bloom by Rose Royce and Music Net by Spyder Turner, amongst others earlier than the label shut down in 1982. Robust additionally left Motown to transition again to an artist profession, signing with Epic Data in 1972 after which Capitol Data. He launched his debut album, Stronghold, in 1975, recording a complete of 4 studio albums till 2001. In 1995, he began his personal report label, Blarritt Data.
Whitfield and Robust had been inducted into the Songwriters Corridor of Fame in 2004. Whitfield handed away in 2008 at the age of 68 following problems with diabetes. Robust handed away in January 2023 at the age of 81.
Photograph by Gilles Petard/Redferns