Marvin Gaye

Happy Birthday

Marvin Pentz Gay Jr.
April 2, 1939
Washington, D.C

Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr) was an American singer-songwriter, producer who helped shape the Motown Sound. Gaye was sometimes referred to as "The Prince of Soul" and "The Prince of Motown". Gaye was an incredible talent and influenced all singers that followed. 

Gaye started singing in church when he was four years old; his father often accompanied him 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 at 11 singing Mario Lanza's "Be My Love". Music was Marvin's refuge as his home life consisted of "brutal whippings" by his father, who struck him for any shortcoming. The young Gaye described living in his father's house as similar to "...living with a king, a very peculiar, changeable, cruel, and all powerful king." He felt that had his mother not consoled him and encouraged his singing, he would have killed himself. His sister later explained that Gaye was beaten often, from age seven well into his teenage years.

Gaye's relationship with his father worsened during his teenage years, as his father would kick him out of the house often. In 1956, 17-year-old Gaye dropped out of high school and enlisted in the United States Air Force as a basic airman. Disappointed in having to perform menial tasks, he faked mental illness and was discharged shortly afterwards. Gaye's sergeant stated that he refused to follow orders. Gaye was issued a "General Discharge" from the service.

In 1960, Gaye relocated to Detroit and ended up signing with Tamla, a subsidiary of Motown. Marvin planned to pursue a career as a performer of jazz music and standards, having no desire to become an R&B performer. Marvin added an 'e' to the end of his last name to put further distance between his father, and to prevent people from thinking he was gay. 
Starting in 1962, Gaye had a string of hits: "Hitch Hike", "Pride and Joy", "Can I Get a Witness", "How Sweet it Is", "I'll Be Doggone" and many more. 

Gaye recorded a duet album with Mary Wells and 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".

In October 1967, Terrell collapsed in Gaye's arms during a performance in Farmville, Virginia. Terrell was subsequently rushed to Farmville's Southside Community Hospital, where doctors discovered she had a malignant tumor in her brain. The diagnosis ended her career. Gaye was reportedly devastated by Terrell's sickness and became disillusioned with the record business. Tammi Terrell died from brain cancer on March 16, 1970. 

Gaye fought with Motown and went on strike until the company agreed to release the single and album "What's Going On". One of Motown's finest works, it brought the concept album format to rhythm and blues. It was described as  "...the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices."  For the album, Gaye received two Grammy Award nominations and several NAACP Image Awards. The album also topped Rolling Stone's year-end list as its album of the year. Billboard magazine named Gaye Trendsetter of the Year following the album's success. The album became Gaye's first million-selling album launching two more top ten singles, "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues".

Gaye had a troubled life, becoming a tax exile and developing a serious addiction to Cocaine. On April 1, 1984, Gaye was shot in the heart and left shoulder by his father, following an altercation. Gaye was pronounced dead at 1:01 p.m. (PST) after his body arrived at California Hospital Medical Center, one day short of his 45th birthday. After Gaye's funeral, his body was cremated at Forest Lawn Memorial Park at the Hollywood Hills; his ashes were later scattered into the Pacific Ocean. Initially charged with first-degree murder, Gay Sr.'s charges dropped to voluntary manslaughter following a diagnosis of a brain tumor. Marvin Gay Sr. was later sentenced to a suspended six-year sentence and probation. He died at a nursing home in 1998.

The world is a better place thanks to Marvin Gaye's musical contributions.

Remembering Marvin Gaye on his birthday. Thank You for the music Sir!
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