American singer songwriter and musician Marvin Gaye was born April 2, 1939. Marvin Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown Records in the 1960s with a string of hits, including “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, and duet recordings with Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell, later earning the titles “Prince of Motown” and “Prince of Soul”. During the 1970s, he recorded the concept albums What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On and became one of the first artists in Motown to break away from the reins of its production company. Gaye’s later recordings influenced several R&B subgenres, such as quiet storm and neo-soul.
Marvin began singing in church at age four and was accompanied by his father on piano. Gaye developed a love of singing at an early age and was encouraged to pursue a professional music career after a performance at a school play. Marvin attended Cardozo High School and joined several doo-wop vocal groups, including the Dippers and the D.C. Tones.The younger Marvin’s relationship with his father worsened during his teenage years .Following an argument in which he stood up against his father, the younger Marvin walked out of the house for good and dropped out of high school. With dreams of being a flyer, 17-year-old Marvin enlisted in the United States Air Force as a Basic Airman. However he faked mental illness and was discharged shortly afterwards. Following his return, Marvin and good friend Reese Palmer formed the vocal quartet The Marquees.The group performed Gaye released his first single, “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide” in May 1961, with the album, The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye, following a month later. The Marquees Were signed to Columbia subsidiary OKeh Records.The group’s sole single, “Wyatt Earp”, failed to chart and the group was soon dropped from the label.
During this period Marvin began composing music and.The Marquees changed their name to Harvey and the “New Moonglows” and recorded several sides for Chess in 1959, including the song “Mama Loocie”, They also found work as session singers for established acts such as Chuck Berry, singing on the hits “Back in the U.S.A.” and “Almost Grown”. In 1960, the group disbanded and Marvin signed as a session musician, playing drums on several Tri-Phi releases. Sadly Gaye’s initial recordings were flops. Gaye spent most of 1961 performing session work as a drummer for artists such as The Miracles, The Marvelettes and blues artist Jimmy Reed.In 1962, Gaye found success as co-writer of the Marvelettes hit, “Beechwood 4-5789” and also released the songs, “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”, “Hitch Hike”and “Pride and Joy” these were included on Gaye’s second album, That Stubborn Kinda Fellow. Gaye performed as part of the Motortown Revue. A performance of Gaye at the Apollo Theater was also filmed. Then signed with Motown subsidiary Tamla and performed of jazz music and standards, having no desire to become an R&B performer.Before the release of his first single, Marvin was teased about his surname, with some jokingly asking, “Is Marvin Gay?” Marvin changed his surname by adding an “e”, following the style of Sam Cooke.
In 1964, Gaye recorded a successful duet album with singer Mary Wells titled Together, including the songs “Once Upon a Time” and “What’s the Matter With You Baby”. Gaye’s next solo hit was “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”. Gaye also appeared on the TV. show American Bandstand and the concert film, The T.A.M.I. Show. Gaye had two number one R&B singles in 1965 with the Miracles-composed “I’ll Be Doggone” and “Ain’t That Peculiar”. After scoring a hit duet, “It Takes Two” with Kim Weston, Gaye began working with Tammi Terrell on a series of duets, mostly composed by Ashford & Simpson, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Your Precious Love”, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “You’re All I Need to Get By”.”I Heard It through the Grapevine” was recorded by Gaye in April 1967, and became Gaye’s first to reach number one , followed by “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” and “That’s the Way Love Is”.
The album M.P.G. became his first number one R&B album. Gaye produced and co-wrote two hits for The Originals during this period, including “Baby I’m For Real” and “The Bells”. Gaye’s new song “What’s Going On”, was inspired by an idea from Renaldo “Obie” Benson of the Four Tops after he witnessed an act of police brutality at an anti-war rally in Berkeley which became a huge hit and was also the title of Gaye’s next album Which also featured the singles, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and “Inner City Blues”and was described as “the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices”. The album received two Grammy Award nominations and several NAACP Image Awards. Gaye then released the soundtrack and subsequent score, Trouble Man, released in late 1972.
In 1973, Gaye released the album Let’s Get It On. This included the song of the same name which became Gaye’s second number one single together with the songs “Come Get to This” and “You Sure Love to Ball”. Marvin’s final duet project, Diana & Marvin, with Diana Ross, garnered international success. Responding to demand from fans and Motown, Gaye went on tour starting AT the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and this performance received critical acclaim and resulted in the release of the live album, Marvin Gaye Live! and its single, a live version of “Distant Lover”, an album track from Let’s Get It On.Gaye toured throughout 1974 and 1975 and gave a performance at a UNESCO benefit concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall to support UNESCO’s African literacy drive, resulting in him being commended at the United Nations. Gaye’s next studio album, I Want You, followed in 1976 with the title track becoming a number-one R&B hit. That summer, Gaye embarked on his first European tour in a decade, starting off in England and issued the live album, Live at the London Palladium, featuring the song, “Got to Give It Up”.In December 1978, Gaye issued Here, My Dear, inspired by the fallout of his first marriage to Anna Gordy.
Sadly Gaye became addicted to cocaine and had serious financial problems with the Inland Revenue Service. In 1980, Gaye went on a European tour . After the tour he relocated to London where he feared imprisonment for failure to pay back taxes, which had now reached upwards to $4.5 million.(US$12,880,250 in 2014 dollars. Gaye decided to rework Love Man from its original disco concept to another personal album invoking religion and the possible end time from a chapter in the Book of Revelation entitled In our Lifetime. However the Master Tape was stolen. Motown remixed the album and issued it on January 15, 1981 without permission, prompting Gaye not to record any more music for Motown. In 1981, Gaye relocated to Ostend, Belgium where He began attending a local Ostend church, regaining personal confidence. Following several months of recovery, Gaye sought a comeback onstage, starting the short-lived Heavy Love Affair tour in England and Ostend between June and July 1981.
Gaye then released his first post-Motown album titled Midnight Love. The first single, “Sexual Healing”, was released in 1982, and became a huge hit, winning two Grammy Awards and becoming Gaye’s most successful single to date. In 1983 Gaye performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the NBA All-Star Game, accompanied by Gordon Banks and also performed at the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever special and also made his final TV Performance on Soul Train. Gaye embarked on his final concert tour, titled the Sexual Healing Tour, in 1983 in San Diego, California. Midnight Love was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, his fourteenth and final nomination.
Sadly on April 1 1984, Gaye was shot twice by his Father and was rushed to California Hospital Medical Center but was pronounced dead on arrival. Gaye died a day before turning 45. The gun with which Marvin Gaye, Sr. shot his son was given to him by Marvin as a Christmas present. Following his funeral, Marvin was cremated with part of his ashes spread near the Pacific Ocean. Since his death in 1984, Gaye has been posthumously honored by many institutions, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Marvin’s fans have also held vigils for the singer at the final residence to celebrate the day of his birth. Marvin was the father of three children, Marvin III, Nona and Frankie, and the grandfather of three boys, Marvin IV, Nolan and Dylan. At the time of his death, he was survived by his three children, parents and five siblings.