Monday, September 22, 2008

RIP fantastic songwriter Norman Whitfield

C&L’s Late Nite Music Club Honors Norman Whitfield - Norman
Whitfield, 1940-2008, RIP

Norman Whitfield, who passed away yesterday at age 67 in Los Angeles after a long battle with diabetes, may not be a name immediately familiar to most music listeners. But I would venture a guess that virtually everyone reading this has at some point in their life heard Norman Whitfield’s work–and well past the simple L.A. Times headline that accompanied his obituary: “Motown Songwriter And Producer Won Two Grammy Awards.”[..]

Motown founder and chief Berry Gordy once noted that if any one person warranted his own wing in a Motown Museum, it’d be Whitfield. Without his contributions as a songwriter, arranger, and producer, it’s hard to imagine that the label’s “Hitsville USA” boast would have been taken very seriously–especially from 1966 to 1974, when he guided his main Motown charges the Temptations to no less than two dozen top 10 R&B hits, including 11 gold and five platinum-selling singles. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of them:

“Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”

“Beauty Is Only Skin Deep”

“(I Know) I’m Losing You”

“You’re My Everything”

“Cloud Nine”

“I Can’t Get Next To You”

“Ball Of Confusion”

“Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)”[..]

Norman Whitfield had his share of difficulties later in life. Besides failing health, he also got into trouble with the IRS government in recent years for unpaid taxes. But in any event, everyone really should know who Norman Whitfield was. Without him, you know, there’d be no “War” –as in “War/What is it good for?/Absolutely nothin’.”

Say it again.

(Crooks and Liars)
Click the link for a couple of cool videos.

More from Dan Epstein and La Vie en Robe.