Master tunesmith helped create the "Motown Sound"
His "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" one of the most played songs of the 20th century on American radio and TV
New York-born music legend Norman Whitfield came to Detroit by chance... his father's car broke down there. Using his keen eye for observation, Whitfield found a mentor in Motown founder Berry Gordy.
After wood-shedding on local labels, he began writing songs for Motown and eventually promoted to head of quality control because he was so meticulous about maximizing hit records. The story of him and songwriting partner Barrett Strong creating three distinct versions of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" for Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & the Pips and The Temptations reflects his creativity.
The Temptations became his primary project in 1967 with Motown's first Grammy-winner "Cloud Nine," ushering in a new day of thought-provoking psychedelic soul (a la Sly Stone) to the label with other acts such as Edwin Starr ("War") and The Undisputed Truth ("Smiling Faces Sometimes").
Whitfield left Motown in 1975 to start his own Whitfield Records label, scoring his last greatest success with the band Rose Royce, which earned him a second Grammy for the Car Wash soundtrack, followed by several hits at the end of the decade.