Posted by themusicsover on April 1, 2010
April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984
Beginning in the early 1960s, Marvin Gaye was one of Motown’s most celebrated songwriters and later one of their premier recording artists. In the early years, he was responsible for such classic Motown hits as “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be In Love By You).” He also had several duet hits with Tammi Terrell including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” But unlike the other artists on the label, he fought for and maintained his own vision and called the shots when creating his own albums. The results? What’s Going On?, Trouble Man, and Let’s Get It On. His astounding body of work continued through the mid ’80s with the release of Midnight Love and its hit single, “Sexual Healing” for which he won a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1983. After the untimely death of Tammi Terrell (1970) along with other personal troubles, not the least of which was his own crumbling marriage, Gaye took some time to reevaluate his position in life. After spending most of the year in seclusion, he resurfaced with What’s Going On?, one of pop music’s landmark albums and one that would change what we think of as “black” music forever. Allmusic.com calls it “A highly percussive album that incorporated jazz and classical elements to forge a remarkably sophisticated and fluid soul sound, [it] was a conceptual masterpiece that brought Gaye’s deeply held spiritual beliefs to the fore to explore issues ranging from poverty and discrimination to the environment, drug abuse, and political corruption; chief among the record’s concerns was the conflict in Vietnam.” Gaye continued to write and record great music throughout the ’7os and early ’80s, but instead of being afforded the chance to enjoy his success, he spent much of his later years battling legal issues from his divorce, substance abuse, and tax troubles that caused him to flee to Europe in 1981. Within the next couple of years, Gaye patched up his differences with Motown head Barry Gordy and decided to move back to the US and into his parents home to get his life and career back on track. In 1983, a little over a year before his death, the troubled singer made a rare public appearance by singing the National Anthem before the NBA All-Star game at the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles. It was the greatest (and in some circles the worst) rendition ever performed. At the time, the world was used to very straight ahead versions of the song, but Gaye took it into the stratosphere by injecting his own soul into it. Instead of capitalizing on that moment, Gaye’s downward spiral into depression only got worse as did his rocky relationship with his father. They fought on numerous occasions until the afternoon of April 1, 1984 when Marvin Sr. shot and killed Marvin Jr. after one of their many arguments. Gaye left behind a daughter; singer and actress, Nona Gaye.