This song was written and originally recorded by the Blues musician Bobby Parker in 1957. In 1959, Johnson's version surfaced, but with the songwriting credited to Berry Gordy, Gwen Fuqua and Roquel Davis. Johnson's version was a hit, and was subsequently recorded by many artists, including Marvin Gaye, Freddie Weller, Barret Strong, The Four Tops and The Supremes, and The Dave Clark Five
, whose version hit #7 in the US in 1967.
Bobby Parker told the Forgotten Hits newsletter in 2008: "I wrote 'You've Got What It Takes,' that was MY song. Even had The Paul Hucklebuck Band playing on it behind me. I performed with them for seven or eight years - you remember that song 'Do The Hucklebuck.' And then Berry Gordy just stole it out from under me, just put his name on it. And what could I do? I was just trying to make a living, playing guitar and singing, how was I going to go on and fight Berry Gordy, big as he was, and Motown Records? There wasn't really nothing I could do about it - it was just too big and I didn't have any way to fight them. I once documented something like 600 times they've taken my guitar riff from 'Watch Your Step
' and used it some place else, but I wrote that riff. I played that for the very first time. You wouldn't BELIEVE how many times it's been used again and again in other pieces of music." Parker added about his version of the song: "It was all over the place playing on the old Wurlitzer Jukeboxes... that one and 'Blues Get Off My Shoulder' - everywhere we traveled we heard it. You got to remember things were different back then... you had your black audience and you had your white audience. We used to play in these old Tobacco Warehouses, they were HUGE buildings and we would fill these places up, and all the black people would sit on one side of the audience and all the white people would sit on the other side of the audience, 'cause that's just the way it was then back in the '50s and into the '60s."