Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Souls Old School Hit Machine Norm Whitfield Passes

Norm Whitfield passed on Tuesday in LA.He was a writing machine and producer.
He co-wrote Motown classics like "War" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine,",to name just a few!.He suffered from complications of diabetes and had recently emerged from a coma.He was Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004.
Perhaps his greatest contribution was bringing Motown artists into the psychedelic era during the late 1960s. Showing the influence of Sly and the Family Stone, Whitfield led Gaye and the Temptations into rock territory with hard-hitting songs that examined the social distresses of the day ("Runaway Child, Running Wild," the drug-influenced "Cloud Nine") and matched the gritty lyrics with driving rhythms, wailing guitars and ominous string arrangements. His most frequent collaborator during this era was lyricist Barrett Strong.

I found this interesting reading
...By 18 Whitfield had already written and produced local hits for the Distants and the Synetics. The persistent, observant youth could be found loitering about the Motown office, "always staring at something," Berry Gordy told Nelson George in Where Did Our Love Go? Tall, thin and quiet, Whitfield somewhat creepily watched for a year before he was hired in 1962 by Gordy at $15 per week to listen to demos and rate them for future release as part of Motown's mysterious Quality Control department. Following two long years of rating and waiting, Whitfield finally wrote and produced his first songs for Motown, the Velvelettes' "Needle In a Haystack" and the Marvelettes' "Too Many Fish In the Sea."

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