Money (That's What I Want)

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"Money (That's What I Want)"
Single by Barrett Strong
B-side "Oh I Apologize"
Released January 1960
Format 45rpm, 78rpm
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 2:39
Label Tamla T-54027
Anna A-1111
Writer(s) Janie Bradford, Berry Gordy
Barrett Strong singles chronology
"Let's Rock"
"Money (That's What I Want)"
"Yes, No Maybe So"

"Money (That's What I Want)" is a 1960 song by Barrett Strong for the Tamla label, distributed nationally on Anna Records. It was written by Tamla founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford and became the first hit record for Gordy's Motown enterprise. It went on to be covered by many artists including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones (1964) and the Doors, and with covers by the Flying Lizards (1979), the Sonics (1965) and the Kingsmen (1964) reaching high chart positions.


Anna Records was operated by Gwen Gordy, Anna Gordy and Billy "Roquel" Davis. Gwen and Anna's brother Berry Gordy had just established his Tamla label (soon Motown would follow) and licensed the song to the Anna label in 1960, which was distributed nationwide by Chicago-based Chess Records in order to meet demand; the Tamla record was a resounding success in the Midwest. The song features Strong curtly demanding that money is what he needs, more than anything else. In the US, the single became Motown's first hit in June 1960, making it to number 2 on the Hot R&B Sides chart and number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1] The song was listed as #288 on Rolling Stone '​s "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

Writing credits dispute[edit]

Singer Barrett Strong claims that he co-wrote the song with Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford. His name was removed from the copyright registration three years after the song was written, restored in 1987 when the copyright was renewed, and then excised again the next year. Gordy has stated that Strong's name was only included because of a clerical error.[2]

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered by many artists, with several of them reaching positions in a variety of charts. For example, The Kingsmen reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100[citation needed] and Bern Elliott and the Fenmen reached number 14 on the UK singles chart.[citation needed] The best known cover versions were performed by the Beatles and by the Flying Lizards, whose version peaked at number 22 on the US dance charts.[3] The Trashmen recorded it for their 1964 album Surfin' Bird. The song has also been covered on Great White's album Recovery: Live! (1988) in two different versions. Most recently, English singer and songwriter Charli XCX covered the song for the Target Deluxe version of her sophomore album Sucker.

The Beatles' version[edit]

Song by The Beatles from the album With the Beatles
Released November 22, 1963
Recorded July 18, 1963
Genre Rock
Length 2:47
Label Parlophone
Producer George Martin
With the Beatles track listing
Music sample

The Beatles recorded "Money" in seven takes on July 18, 1963, with their usual lineup. A series of piano overdubs was later added by producer George Martin. The song was released in November 1963 as the final track on their second United Kingdom album, With the Beatles.[4]

According to George Harrison, the group discovered Strong's version in Brian Epstein's NEMS record store (though not a hit in the UK, it had been issued on London Records in 1960). They had previously performed it during their audition at Decca Records on January 1, 1962, with Pete Best still on drums at the time. They also recorded it six times for BBC radio. A live version, taped at a concert date in Stockholm, Sweden in October 1963, was included on Anthology 1.[4]

Their version features in the Only Fools and Horses episode "Mother Nature's Son."

The song became a staple for other British Invasion bands, being released by the Searchers in August 1963, Freddie and the Dreamers also in 1963 and on the Rolling Stones' first U.K. EP in January 1964.

John Lennon recorded a live version with the Plastic Ono Band on the album Live Peace in Toronto 1969.


  • John Lennon – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, screaming, handclapping
  • Paul McCartney – backing vocals, bass, handclapping
  • George Harrison – backing vocals, lead guitar, handclapping
  • Ringo Starr – drums, handclapping
  • George Martin – double-tracked piano

The Flying Lizards' version[edit]

Single by The Flying Lizards
from the album The Flying Lizards
Released 1979
Genre New wave[5]
Length 2:31
Label Virgin
Producer(s) David Cunningham
Certification Silver (BPI)[6]

In 1979, British band the Flying Lizards recorded a new wave version of the song. An unexpected hit,[7] this version peaked at number 5 in the band's native country and at number 50 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also peaked at number 22 on the dance charts.