Page last updated at 09:42 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 10:42 UK

Motown songwriter Whitfield dies

Norman Whitfield
Norman Whitfield won two Grammy awards in his career

Motown songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield, whose credits include hits I Heard It Through The Grapevine and War, has died in Los Angeles.

Whitfield - believed to be 67 - worked at the legendary label in the '60s and '70s, adding a rock edge to soul music.

Many of his hits were co-written with Barrett Strong, with whom he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

The pair won a Grammy in 1972 for Papa Was A Rolling Stone by The Temptations.

'Live forever'

The Temptations' chart hits were all Whitfield's work, and he was their chief producer from 1966-74.

The songwriter also co-wrote and produced songs for Gladys Knights and The Pips.

He scooped another Grammy award in 1976 for the theme tune to Car Wash, which went on to become a chart hit for Rose Royce.

The 1970 politically-charged War, performed by Edwin Starr and produced by Whitfield, reached number one in the US and number three in the UK.

Whitfield's only UK number one was I Heard It Through The Grapevine - in 1969 - which also topped the charts in the US.

The classic track, sung by Marvin Gaye, was recently ranked at 65 in Billboard's 100 most successful tracks of the last 50 years.

Singer Smokey Robinson, one of Motown's best-known artists, hailed Whitfield as "one of the most prolific songwriters and record producers of our time".

"He will live forever through his great music," he added.


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