Norman Whitfield (67) died on Sept. 16 of complications from diabetes. If his name is not familiar then ... what a shame. I'm pretty sure you know his music. During his heyday as a writer/producer for Motown (mainly for The Temptations) in the 1960s and 70s he was instrumental transforming soul music into a more socially conscious commentary on society. Inspired by Sly and the Family Stone and Funkadelic Whitfield infused a bit more funk into the notoriously smooth Motown productions. The sound was called "psychedelic soul." Whitfield and his song-writing musicial partner Barrett Strong (who sang Motown's first big hit "Money (That's What I Want)" were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004. A list of their songs include:
"Ain't Too Proud To Beg" recorded by The Temptations, 1966.
"I Know I'm Losing You" The Temptations, 1967.
"I Heard It Through The Grapevine" recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips and Marvin Gaye, 1967-8.
"I Wish It Would Rain" by The Temptations, 1967.
"Cloud Nine" by The Temptations, which won Motown it's first Grammy award (1968) for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance by a Duo or Group.
"Too Busy Thinking 'Bout My Baby" by Marvin Gaye, 1969.
"War" by Edwin Starr. Massive #1 hit in 1970 and considered one of the all time great protest songs.
"I Can't Get Next To You" by The Temptations, 1969 and later by Al Green.
"Psychedelic Shack" and "Ball of Confusion" by The Temptations.
"Smiling Faces Sometimes" by The Undisputed Truth, 1971. Personally, one my favorite Motown songs of all time with a great wicked bass line.
"Just My Imagination" by The Temptations, 1972.
"Papa Was A Rolling Stone" by The Temptations (1973). Perhaps the crowning achievement of Whitfield's career which also won a Grammy for Best R&B Song.
"Car Wash" by Rose Royce, 1976. A #1 early disco smash from the hit comedy movie and winner of the Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album.
If you cannot sing along to at least half of these songs ... you need to seriously expand your musical horizions.