Money (That's What I Want)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Money (That's What I Want)"
Single by Barrett Strong
B-side "Oh I Apologize"
Released August 1959
  • 45rpm
  • 78rpm
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 2:39
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 1959 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 Kingsmen (1964), the Sonics (1965) and the Flying Lizards (1979) reaching high chart positions.


The song was originally released on Tamla in August 1959.[1] Anna Records was operated by Gwen Gordy, Anna Gordy and Roquel "Billy" 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.[2] The song was listed as #288 on Rolling Stone‍ '​s "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

Piano and lead vocals were supplied by Barrett. Guitar on the track was played by Eugene Grew.[3]

Virtually all of the records issued were 45's, the 10" 78 format, issued by Anna, is described as "extremely rare."[4]

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.[3]

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered by many artists, with several of the versions 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.[5]

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 UK album, With the Beatles.[6]

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.[6]

Their version features in the Only Fools and Horses 1992 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 UK EP in January 1964.

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


  • John Lennon – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, screaming, handclapping
  • Paul McCartney – bass, backing vocals, handclapping
  • George Harrison – lead guitar, backing vocals, 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
B-side "Money B"
Released 13 July 1979
Genre New wave[7]
Length 2:31
Label Virgin
Producer(s) David Cunningham
Certification Silver (BPI)[8]

In July 1979 British band the Flying Lizards released a new wave version of the song. An unexpected hit,[9] 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 US dance charts.