Norman Whitfield, the visionary producer who helped shape the Motown era, has died at 67 from diabetes complications, the Los Angeles Times reports. Whitfield produced most of the Temptations’ recordings, and co-wrote dozens of Motown standouts, including Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” It was Whitfield who helped shift Motown records from the catchy love tunes of the early ‘60s to more socially relevant themes.
“Of all the brilliant writer-producers that Motown has given to the world, I believe none was more brilliant than Norman Whitfield,” said the Temptations’ longtime manager. “Norman [is] in a class of his own.” Fellow Motown vet Smokey Robinson agreed. “Norman Whitfield was one of the most prolific songwriters and record producers of our time,” he said. “He will live forever through his great music.”