Marvin Pentz Gay Jr., popularly known as Gaye, was an American singer and songwriter who lived from April 2, 1939, to April 1, 1984. He shaped Motown’s style in the 1960s, first as an in-house session musician and then as a solo performer with a run of hits, earning him the moniker “Prince of Motown” and “Prince of Soul.”
“Ain’t That Peculiar,” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” are among Gaye’s Motown hits. Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Tammi Terrell, and Diana Ross all recorded duets with Gaye. Gaye released the albums What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On in the 1970s, and was one of the first Motown performers to break free from the control of a production firm.
Several contemporary R&B subgenres, such as quiet storm and neo-soul, were influenced by his later albums.
In the early 1980s, he was a tax exile in Europe; in 1982, he recorded “Sexual Healing,” which earned him his first two Grammy Awards for the album Midnight Love.
Gaye’s last broadcast appearances included “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, and Soul Train.
Gaye was fatally shot by his father, Marvin Gay Sr., on the eve of his 45th birthday on April 1, 1984, at their home in Hancock Park, Los Angeles, after an argument.
Later, Gay Sr. pled not guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a six-year suspended sentence and five years of probation. The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as inductions into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, have all been conferred on Gaye posthumously.
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Marvin Gaye’s Childhood
Marvin Gaye was born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. in Washington, D.C. on April 2, 1939. Marvin Sr., his father, was a clergyman, and Alberta, his mother, was a domestic servant. Marvin has two half-brothers, Michael and Antwaun, and grew up with his brother Frankie and sisters Zeola and Jeanne.
Gaye lived in the Fairfax Apartments, a public housing project in the Southwest Waterfront district, for the first few years of her life. Marvin began singing in church at the age of four since his family belonged to the House of God, a Pentecostal church. Marvin Gaye’s father was cruel and frequently subjected him to “brutal whippings.”
Gaye was a member of the glee club and doo-wop groups at Syphax Elementary School, Randall Junior High School, Spingarn High School, and Cardozo High School, where he performed in school plays and sang in doo-wop groups. At the age of 17, Marvin dropped out of school and enlisted in the United States Air Force. He was dissatisfied with his lowly duties as a basic airman, so he pretended to be mentally ill and was quickly fired.
Marvin Gaye’s Career
Gaye founded The Marquees with his friend Reese Palmer after being discharged from the service, and they worked with Bo Diddley, who helped the group get signed to OKeh Records, a Columbia subsidiary.
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After their single “Wyatt Earp” failed to chart, the Marquees were dumped from the label. The Marquees were hired by Harvey Fuqua, co-founder of the R&B group the Moonglows, and they changed their name to Harvey and the New Moonglows and relocated to Chicago.
Gaye proceeded to Detroit and signed with Tri-Phi Records, performing as a session musician on several of the label’s releases after the trio disbanded in 1960. Marvin was signed to Tamla, a subsidiary of Berry Gordy’s Motown Records, after playing at Gordy’s residence in December 1960.
In May 1961, Gaye released his first single, “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide,” and his debut album, “The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye,” the following month. He co-wrote the Marvelettes’ hit “Beechwood 4-5789” in 1962, and he also had a solo hit that year with “Stubborn Kind of Fellow.”
“Pride and Joy” became his first top ten single on the “Billboard” Hot 100 list in 1963. In the 1960s, Marvin released nine solo albums as well as five collaborative albums with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, and Tammi Terrell. Eleven of his tracks charted in the top ten on the “Billboard” Hot 100 during that decade, with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” hitting #1 in 1968.
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Gaye’s first album, “What’s Going On,” was certified Gold in the United States and Platinum in the United Kingdom, and he followed it up with “Let’s Get It On,” which hit #1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #2 on the “Billboard” 200 charts in 1973.
In the United States, the title track topped the “Billboard” Hot 100 chart and was certified Platinum. In 1973, he recorded “Diana & Marvin,” a collaboration with Diana Ross that charted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart and #7 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart.
Gaye’s subsequent four studio albums all charted in the top ten on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, with “I Want You” reaching #4 on the “Billboard” 200 charts in 1976. Marvin went from Motown to Columbia in 1982, and in October of that year, he released “Midnight Love,” his most successful album, which was certified 3x Platinum in the United States and charted in the top 10 in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
Gaye’s hit “Sexual Healing” won two Grammys and went platinum in the United States. After Marvin’s unexpected death, four studio albums were released: “Dream of a Lifetime” (1985), “Romantically Yours” (1985), “Vulnerable” (1997), and “You’re the Man” (1998). (2019).
How Many Times Did Marvin Gaye Marry and How Many Kids Did He Have?
Marvin Gordy married Anna Gordy, Berry Gordy’s sister, on January 8, 1964, and they had a son named Marvin III (the biological son of Anna’s niece) before divorcing in 1977. On October 10, 1977, Gaye married Janis Hunter, and the couple had two children: Nona, born on September 4, 1974, and Frankie, born on November 16, 1975. In 1981, Janis and Marvin divorced.
Gaye was a lifelong marijuana user who started using cocaine in the early 1960s. He was also a PCP user, who became despondent and paranoid as a result of his drug abuse. Marvin Gaye tried to commit himself in 1969 but was saved by Berry Gordy’s father. Marvin tried suicide once more ten years later, this time with an ounce of cocaine. Gaye tried suicide by jumping out of a moving automobile four days before his death, according to his sister.
Gaye’s Net Worth When He Died
Marvin Gaye was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer who died in 1984 with a net worth of -$9 million.
Unpaid IRS taxes accounted for a large portion of his negative net worth. According to the journal, Gaye “sold the majority of his music royalties rights to Motown Records but kept the publishing rights.” The IRS got all of his estate’s royalties for several years after his death, nearly $1 million every year.”
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How Did Marvin Gaye’s Death?
Marvin stepped in to stop his parents from fighting at their Los Angeles home on April 1, 1984. The situation became heated, and Gaye and his father got into a fight. With a gun Gaye had given him as a gift, Marvin Sr. shot his son in the chest and shoulder. At 1:01 p.m., less than 30 minutes after the shooting, Marvin was pronounced dead at California Hospital Medical Center.
Frankie Gaye, Marvin Gaye’s brother, said that as Marvin was dying, he said, “I got exactly what I wanted… I couldn’t do it myself, so I delegated the task to him… It’s OK; I’ve completed my race and have no more energy.”
Gaye’s funeral was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park on April 5th, and his corpse was cremated; Gaye’s ex-wife Anna and his three children scattered half of his ashes along the Pacific Ocean. Because Marvin died without a will, his 17-year-old son, Marvin III, became the estate’s co-administrator.
Gaye was in debt at the time of his death, but revenues from his music finally paid off his bills. Marvin’s father was charged with first-degree murder, but the charges were lowered to voluntary manslaughter after it was determined that he had a brain tumor. He was given a six-year suspended sentence and five years of probation.
Nominations and Awards
Gaye received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996, and he won two Grammys in 1983 for “Sexual Healing” and “Sexual Healing (Instrumental Version).” He was nominated for ten Grammy Awards, including Best Rhythm & Blues Group Performance, Vocal or Instrumental for “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (1968), Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance, Male for “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (1969), Best R&B Instrumental Performance for “After The Dance” (1977), Best Rhythm & Blues Song for “Sexual Healing” (1983), Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male for ” (1984).
Marvin received a posthumous Online Film & Television Association Award nomination for Best Music, Adapted Song in 2001 for his performance of “Let’s Get It On” in the film “High Fidelity.”
In 1988, Gaye was inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame, and in 1990, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Marvin was inducted into the Michigan Rock & Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2005, the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2014, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015. (2016).
Watts Branch Park in Washington, D.C. was renamed Marvin Gaye Park in 2006, and the 5200 block of Foote Street NE (which serves as the park’s entrance) was officially renamed Marvin Gaye Way in 2009. As part of their Music Icons series, the USPS released a stamp featuring Marvin’s likeness in 2019.