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Marvin Gaye

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Also Known As: Marvin P Gaye Died:
Born: April 2, 1939 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Profession:

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the war, and he was shocked by footage of violent police response to protestors. With Four Tops singer Renaldo "Obie" Benson, he penned "Whatâ¿¿s Going On," an eloquent observation on the issues of the day that featured one of Gayeâ¿¿s most inspired vocals and an arrangement that foresaw the future of soul music with its blend of jazz, funk and Latin grooves. However, Gordy was violently opposed to the song, which he considered one of the worst he had ever heard. The song was eventually released under considerable duress, where it immediately struck a chord with listeners who sent it to the top of the R&B charts for five weeks. Gaye would later record the entire album, also titled Whatâ¿¿s Going On (1971), independent of Motownâ¿¿s staff producers, exerting a creative control over that was a rarity at the label. The result was a soul classic that produced two more No. 1 hits, "Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler"), both of which drew praise for their message and their production. Whatâ¿¿s Going On went on to win several NAACP Awards, as well as earn numerous Grammy nominations. More importantly, it set the stage for other Motown artists to break free of the labelâ¿¿s...

the war, and he was shocked by footage of violent police response to protestors. With Four Tops singer Renaldo "Obie" Benson, he penned "Whatâ¿¿s Going On," an eloquent observation on the issues of the day that featured one of Gayeâ¿¿s most inspired vocals and an arrangement that foresaw the future of soul music with its blend of jazz, funk and Latin grooves. However, Gordy was violently opposed to the song, which he considered one of the worst he had ever heard. The song was eventually released under considerable duress, where it immediately struck a chord with listeners who sent it to the top of the R&B charts for five weeks. Gaye would later record the entire album, also titled Whatâ¿¿s Going On (1971), independent of Motownâ¿¿s staff producers, exerting a creative control over that was a rarity at the label. The result was a soul classic that produced two more No. 1 hits, "Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler"), both of which drew praise for their message and their production. Whatâ¿¿s Going On went on to win several NAACP Awards, as well as earn numerous Grammy nominations. More importantly, it set the stage for other Motown artists to break free of the labelâ¿¿s often-constrictive production regulations and set their own creative path, including Stevie Wonder, who refused to renew his contract with Gordy unless he was granted complete creative control.

Gaye relished his newfound freedom, diving into a variety of projects that included instrumental and jazz albums, as well as the soundtrack to the 1973 crime film "Trouble Man," which generated a No. 7 single with its title track. By this time, his marriage to Anna Gordy had finally come to an end, and he seemed to celebrate his newfound freedom with the single "Letâ¿¿s Get It On," a steamy come-on to an unspecified lover that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The subsequent album, 1973â¿¿s Letâ¿¿s Get It On, was as dedicated to love and sex as Whatâ¿¿s Going On was to social unrest, and listeners helped to make it another hit. Pressure from fans spurred Motown to demand that Gaye go on the road to promote the album, so he returned to live performance in 1974 and enjoyed a sold-out tour. By 1975, Motown was granting Gaye his every wish, including his own custom-made recording studio as part of his renewed contract.

However, Gaye found it difficult to balance his touring requirements with studio work, and for the next three years, he was without a new solo album. To make up for the lack of fresh material, Motown released Marvin and Diana, a compilation of duets with the Supremes singer that had begun prior to the release of Whatâ¿¿s Going On. Finally, in 1976, he began work on his new record, titled I Want You, but its production was wracked with external problems, most notably the threat of jail time over unpaid alimony to his wife Anna, who had filed for divorce. I Want You was eventually completed and released in 1976, and its moody, slow-simmering sound, inspired in part by Janis Hunter â¿¿ with whom Gaye had been involved since 1973 â¿¿ was met with mixed reactions by fans and critics alike. A 1977 single, the disco-flavored "Got to Give It Up, Pt. 1," became his final No. 1 hit.

In 1977, Gayeâ¿¿s divorce from Gordy was complete. Their financial issues were settled by an agreement that she would receive a portion of the sales from his next album, and Gaye set about to produce a record that would sell quick and conclude the contract. However, the result was Here, My Dear, a sprawling, unfocused double album that tanked upon its release. Gaye was sent back on the concert trail to recoup his losses while his personal life began to unravel in a dramatic fashion. His 1979 marriage to Hunter had collapsed after just 18 months due to allegations of infidelity on both sides and Gayeâ¿¿s mounting addiction to cocaine, which at one point reportedly caused him to threaten her at knifepoint. He was also in debt to the IRS for millions of dollars in unpaid taxes, which forced him into self-imposed exile in Hawaii and later London. He attempted to rebound with an album of ballads, but changed direction and delivered In Our Lifetime to Motown, an album that explored Gayeâ¿¿s personal issues through a veil of religious pronouncements that suggested an impending Armageddon. The label released the record in a dramatically different format, which resulted in Gaye demanding to be released from his contract. He eventually signed with CBS in 1982.

Now situated in Belgium, Gaye began to withdraw from his downward spiral and revive his flagging career. He wrested control of his physical and emotional health and set out on a European tour that received positive reviews. He also re-teamed with Harvey Fuqua to begin work on a new album, titled Midnight Love, which featured his last great single, "Sexual Healing." An unabashed tribute to the joys of carnal knowledge, the single shot to the top of the R&B charts and earned him two Grammys and renewed respect from the music community. He even settled his long-standing feud with Berry Gordy by performing "Whatâ¿¿s Going On" at the legendary "Motown 25" (NBC, 1983) tribute special. A tour was launched in 1983, but the pressures of nightly performances played havoc with Gayeâ¿¿s resolve, and he was soon back in the grip of his drug addiction.

To the surprise of many, he returned to his parentsâ¿¿ home in Los Angeles to recuperate. There, his condition deteriorated even further, with drug dealers and groupies laying siege to the house, and battles between Gaye and his father reaching epic levels of rancor. On more than one occasion, Gaye threatened suicide after a particularly violent episode. The situation reached its terminal point on April 1, 1984, one day before Gayeâ¿¿s 45th birthday, when a misunderstanding over business documents led Gaye to assault his father, who responded by fatally shooting him. Charges of murder were dropped when it was discovered that Gaye, Sr. was suffering from a brain tumor, and he spent his remaining years in a retirement home before succumbing to pneumonia in 1998. Gaye was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame three years later. More importantly, his music influenced fellow R&B legends like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, who demanded and retained the level of creative control he gained for his work. Furthermore, his influence on a generation of romantic and erotically inclined soul singers â¿¿ from Prince and Dâ¿¿Angelo to Usher and Justin Timberlake â¿¿ was immeasurable.

By Paul Gaitathe most joyous love songs of the 1960s, including "Ainâ¿¿t Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "Youâ¿¿re All I Need To Get By." So convincing were their declarations of love in song that many believed that Gaye and Terrell were a real-life couple, despite his marriage to Anna Gordy and her relationship with Temptations singer David Ruffin.

Tragedy struck in 1967 when Terrell collapsed on stage during a performance. She was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor that forced her to abruptly end her recording career. Gaye was devastated by the news, which overwhelmed the extraordinary success of his 1967 single, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," his first No. 1 and the biggest selling song in Motown history up to that point. When Terrell died in 1970, Gayeâ¿¿s emotional well-being took a further turn for the worse. He refused to record any future duets with female singers, and developed a case of stage fright so severe that he was sued on several occasions for breach of contract. His marriage was also in a state of disarray, and for a period of time, Gaye drifted afield from music, attempting at one point to join the Detroit Lions football team.

Eventually, he found renewed focus from the world around him. His brother Frankie had returned from service in Vietnam with stories about

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