April 2, 2023

The Life of Marvin Gaye Jr.

Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. was born April 2, 1939, He was a singer-songwriter-producer who helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960, earning him the nickname "Prince of Motown" and "Prince of Soul".

Gaye’s father was a preacher; his mother was a domestic worker. Gaye sang in his father’s church in Washington, D.C., Gaye was blessed with an exceptionally range and a great technical prowess. In 1958 Gaye became a member of the nationally known doo-wop group, the Moonglows. The group recorded “Mama Loochie” and “Twelve Months of the Year, but doo-wop dissipating rapidly in the late 1950s, soon the Moonglows disbanded, and 20 year old Gaye moved to Detroit, where Berry Gordy, Jr, was forming Motown Records.

Gaye was set on being a crooner, In the same vain as Nat King Cole. He enjoyed his first break with “Stubborn Kinda Fellow” (1962), This was the first of a long string of hits, including “I’ll Be Doggone” (1965), and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (1968), as well as a series of successful duets, most notably with Tammi Terrell (“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” [1968]).

Gaye became his own producer for What’s Going On (1971), it was the magnum opus of his career. A series of jazz-influenced songs about America’s political and social woes, this concept album was to paint a picture of the landscape of America’s African American community. "What’s Going On was a critical and commercial sensation, that included the chart-topping singles “What’s Going On,” “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).” all of this, in spite of the fact that Berry Gordy, fearing its political commentary as well as its stand against the Vietnam War, and argued against its release. 

Other major artists like Stevie Wonder, followed Gaye’s lead and acted as producer of their own records. In 1972 Gaye wrote the soundtrack for the film Trouble Man, the album mirrored his own sense of insecurity. Let’s Get It On, released in 1973 I Want You (1976) and Here, My Dear (1979) that dealt with Gaye’s divorce from Gordy’s sister Anna Gordy Gaye.

Gaye’s growing addiction to cocaine only worsened his issues, He struggled with crushing depression and was also indebted to the Internal Revenue Service, causing him fled the country, living in exile in England and Belgium,  In the eighties, he worked only sporadically. In 1982, he left Motown and signed with Columbia

His comeback hit, “Sexual Healing,” in 1982 was a worldwide sensation, the song that signaled his comeback. Back in united states living in LA with his parents, His 1983 “Sexual Healing” tour, was fuel with confusion and chaos causing Gaye to fall into emotional disarray.

On April 1, 1984, during a family dispute, Gaye was shot to death by his Father during an altercation. In 1987, Gaye was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1996 received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.