Gordy teamed Whitfield up with Strong, whose 1960 recording of his own song, "Money," gave Motown one of its first hits. After some early successes with their songs, Gordy recognized Whitfield's talent at production and put him in charge of the Temptations, who first reached No. 1 on the pop chart with "My Girl," written and produced by Robinson.
But starting with "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" in 1966, Whitfield wrote and produced more than two dozen hits for the group over the next eight years.
"We grew up together," original Temptations singer Otis Williams said Wednesday. "He was my lifelong friend [and] one of the best producers Motown ever had."
Whitfield also oversaw recordings by Edwin Starr, who hit No. 1 with Whitfield's thunderously produced single "War," and the Undisputed Truth.