(Read all about Marvin Gaye after the video)
Marvin Gaye (/ɡeɪ/; born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr.; April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) was an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an in-house session player and later as a solo artist with a string of hits, including "Ain't That Peculiar", "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", and duet recordings with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Diana Ross 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 the first artist in Motown (followed by Stevie Wonder) to break away from the reins of their production company.
Gaye's later recordings influenced several contemporary R&B subgenres, such as quiet storm and neo soul. Following a period in Europe as a tax exile in the early 1980s, Gaye released the 1982 Grammy Award-winning hit "Sexual Healing" and its parent album Midnight Love.
On April 1, 1984, Gaye's father, Marvin Gay Sr., fatally shot him at their house in the West Adams district of Los Angeles. Since his death, many institutions have posthumously bestowed Gaye with awards and other honors—including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Marvin Gaye was born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. on April 2, 1939, at Freedman's Hospital in Washington, D.C., to church minister Marvin Gay Sr., and domestic worker Alberta Gay (née Cooper). His first home was in a public housing project, the Fairfax Apartments (now demolished) at 1617 1st Street SW in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood. Although one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, with many elegant Federal-style homes, Southwest was primarily a vast slum. Most buildings were small, in extensive disrepair, and lacked both electricity and running water. The alleys were full of one- and two-story shacks, and nearly every dwelling was overcrowded. Gaye and his friends nicknamed the area "Simple City", owing to its being "half-city, half country".[a]
Gaye was the second eldest of the couple's four children. He had two sisters, Jeanne and Zeola, and one brother, Frankie Gaye. He also had two half-brothers: Michael Cooper, his mother's son from a previous relationship, and Antwaun Carey Gay, born as a result of his father's extramarital affairs.
Gaye started singing in church when he was four years old; his father often accompanied him on piano. Gaye and his family were part of a Pentecostal church known as the House of God. The House of God took its teachings from Hebrew Pentecostalism, advocated strict conduct, and adhered to both the Old and New Testaments. 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". 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 attended Syphax Elementary School and then Randall Junior High School. Gaye began to take singing much more seriously in junior high, and he joined and became a singing star with the the Randall Junior High Glee Club.
In 1953 or 1954,[b] the Gays moved into the East Capitol Dwellings public housing project in D.C.'s Capitol View neighborhood.[c] Their townhouse apartment (Unit 12, 60th Street NE; now demolished) was Marvin's home until 1962.[d]
Gaye briefly attended Spingarn High School before transfering to Cardozo High School. At Cardozo, Gaye joined several doo-wop vocal groups, including the Dippers and the D.C. Tones. 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.
Following his return, Gaye and good friend Reese Palmer formed the vocal quartet The Marquees. The group performed in the D.C. area and soon began working with Bo Diddley, who assigned the group to Columbia subsidiary OKeh Records after failing to get the group signed to his own label, Chess. The group's sole single, "Wyatt Earp" (co-written by Bo Diddley), failed to chart and the group was soon dropped from the label. Gaye began composing music during this period.
Moonglows co-founder Harvey Fuqua later hired The Marquees as employees. Under Fuqua's direction, the group changed its name to Harvey and the New Moonglows, and relocated to Chicago. The group recorded several sides for Chess in 1959, including the song "Mama Loocie", which was Gaye's first lead vocal recording. The group 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. Gaye relocated to Detroit with Fuqua where he signed with Tri-Phi Records as a session musician, playing drums on several Tri-Phi releases. Gaye performed at Motown president Berry Gordy's house during the holiday season in 1960. Impressed by the singer, Gordy sought Fuqua on his contract with Gaye. Fuqua agreed to sell part of his interest in his contract with Gaye. Shortly afterwards, Gaye signed with Motown subsidiary Tamla.
When Gaye signed with Tamla, he pursued a career as a performer of jazz music and standards, having no desire to become an R&B performer. Before the release of his first single, Gaye was teased about his surname, with some jokingly asking, "Is Marvin Gay?" Gaye changed his surname by adding an e, in the same way as did Sam Cooke. Author David Ritz wrote that Gaye did this to silence rumors of his sexuality, and to put more distance between Gaye and his father.
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. Gaye's initial recordings failed commercially and he spent most of 1961 performing session work as a drummer for artists such as The Miracles, The Marvelettes and blues artist Jimmy Reed for $5 (US$40 in 2016 dollars) a week. While Gaye took some advice on performing with his eyes open (having been accused of appearing as though he were sleeping), he refused to attend grooming school courses at the John Roberts Powers School for Social Grace in Detroit because of his unwillingness to comply with its orders, something he later regretted.
In 1962, Gaye found success as co-writer of the Marvelettes hit, "Beechwood 4-5789". His first solo hit, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow", was later released that September, reaching No. 8 on the R&B chart and No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100. Gaye reached the top 40 with the dance song, "Hitch Hike", peaking at No. 30 on the Hot 100. "Pride and Joy" became Gaye's first top ten single after its release in 1963.
The three singles and songs from the 1962 sessions were included on Gaye's second album, That Stubborn Kinda Fellow. Starting in October of the year, Gaye performed as part of the Motortown Revue, a series of concert tours headlined at the north and south eastern coasts of the United States as part of the chitlin' circuit. A filmed performance of Gaye at the Apollo Theater took place in June 1963. Later that October, Tamla issued the live album, Marvin Gaye Recorded Live on Stage. "Can I Get a Witness" became one of Gaye's early international hits.
In 1964, Gaye recorded a successful duet album with singer Mary Wells titled Together, which reached No. 42 on the pop album chart. The album's two-sided single, including "Once Upon a Time" and 'What's the Matter With You Baby", each reach the top 20. Gaye's next solo hit, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)", which Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote for him, reached No. 6 on the Hot 100 and reached the top 50 in the UK. Gaye started getting television exposure around this time, on shows such as American Bandstand. Also in 1964, he appeared in 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". Both songs became million-sellers. After this, Gaye returned to jazz-derived ballads for a tribute album to the recently-deceased Nat "King" Cole.
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".
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 tumour in her brain. The diagnosis ended Terrell's career as a live performer, though she continued to record music under careful supervision. Despite the presence of hit singles such as "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "You're All I Need to Get By", Terrell's illness caused problems with recording, and led to multiple operations to remove the tumor. Gaye was reportedly devastated by Terrell's sickness and became disillusioned with the record business.
On October 6, 1968, Gaye sang the national anthem during Game 4 of the 1968 World Series, held at Tiger Stadium, in Detroit, Michigan, and played between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals.
In late 1968, Gaye's recording of I Heard It Through the Grapevine became Gaye's first to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also reached the top of the charts in other countries, selling over four million copies. However, Gaye felt the success was something he "didn't deserve" and that he "felt like a puppet – Berry's puppet, Anna's puppet...." Gaye followed it up with "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" and "That's the Way Love Is", which reached the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. That year, his album M.P.G. became his first No. 1 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".
Tammi Terrell died from brain cancer on March 16, 1970; Gaye attended her funeral  and after a period of depression, Gaye sought out a position on a professional football team, the Detroit Lions, where he later befriended Mel Farr and Lem Barney. It was eventually decided that Gaye would not be allowed to try out owing to fears of possible injuries that could have affected his music career.
What's Going On and subsequent success
Main articles: What's Going On (Marvin Gaye album) and Let's Get It On
On June 1, 1970, Gaye returned to Hitsville U.S.A., where he recorded his new composition "What's Going On", 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. Upon hearing the song, Berry Gordy refused its release due to his feelings of the song being "too political" for radio. Gaye responded by going on strike from recording until the label released the song. Released in 1971, it reached No. 1 on the R&B charts within a month, staying there for five weeks. It also reached the top spot on Cashbox's pop chart for a week and reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 and the Record World chart, selling over two million copies.
After giving an ultimatum to record a full album to win creative control from Motown, Gaye spent ten days recording the What's Going On album that March. Motown issued the album that May after Gaye remixed portions of the album in Hollywood. The album became Gaye's first million-selling album launching two more top ten singles, "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues". One of Motown's first autonomous works, its theme and segue flow brought the concept album format to rhythm and blues. An AllMusic writer later cited it 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.
In 1971, Gaye signed a new deal with Motown worth $1 million (US$5,913,722 in 2016 dollars), making it the most lucrative deal by a black recording artist at the time. Gaye first responded to the new contract with the soundtrack and subsequent score, Trouble Man, released in late 1972.
In 1973, Gaye released the Let's Get It On album. Its title track became Gaye's second No. 1 single on the Hot 100. The album subsequently stayed on the charts for two years and sold over three million copies. The album was later hailed as "a record unparalleled in its sheer sensuality and carnal energy." Other singles from the album included "Come Get to This", which recalled Gaye's early Motown soul sound of the previous decade, while the suggestive "You Sure Love to Ball" reached modest success but received tepid promotion due to the song's sexually explicit content.
Marvin's final duet project, Diana & Marvin, with Diana Ross, garnered international success despite contrasting artistic styles. Much of the material was crafted especially for the duo by Ashford and Simpson. Responding to demand from fans and Motown, Gaye started his first tour in four years at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum on January 4, 1974. The 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.
The tour helped to increase Gaye's reputation as a live performer. For a time, he was earning $10,000 a night (US$48,563 in 2016 dollars) for performances. Gaye toured throughout 1974 and 1975. A renewed contract with Motown allowed Gaye to build his own custom-made recording studio.
In October 1975, Gaye 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 by then-Ambassador to Ghana Shirley Temple Black and Kurt Waldheim. Gaye's next studio album, I Want You, followed in 1976 with the title track becoming a No. 1 R&B hit. That summer, Gaye embarked on his first European tour in a decade, starting off in England. In early 1977, Gaye released the live album, Live at the London Palladium, which sold over two million copies thanks to the success of its studio song, "Got to Give It Up", which became a No. 1 hit.
Last Motown recordings and European exile
Main articles: Here, My Dear and In Our Lifetime (Marvin Gaye album)
In December 1978, Gaye released Here, My Dear, inspired by the fallout of his first marriage to Anna Gordy. Recorded as an intent for Gaye to remit a portion of its royalties to her to receive alimony payments, it performed poorly on the charts. During that period, Gaye developed a serious dependence and addiction to cocaine and was dealing with several financial issues with the IRS. These issues led him to move to Maui, Hawaii, where he struggled to record a disco album. In 1980, Gaye went on a European tour. By the time the tour stopped, the singer relocated to London when he feared imprisonment for failure to pay back taxes, which had now reached upwards of $4.5 million (US$13,080,170 in 2016 dollars).
Gaye then reworked 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. Titling the album In Our Lifetime?, Gaye worked on the album for much of 1980 in London studios such as Air and Odyssey Studios.
In the fall of that year, someone stole a master tape of a rough draft of the album from one of Gaye's traveling musicians, Frank Blair, taking the master tape to Motown's Hollywood headquarters. Motown remixed the album and released it on January 15, 1981. When Gaye learned of its release, he accused Motown of editing and remixing the album without his consent, allowing the release of an unfinished production (Far Cry), altering the album art of his request and removing the album title's question mark, muting its irony. He also accused the label of rush-releasing the album, comparing his unfinished album to an unfinished Picasso painting. Gaye then vowed not to record any more music for Motown.
On February 14, 1981, under the advice of music promoter Freddy Cousaert, Gaye relocated to Cousaert's apartment in Ostend, Belgium. While there, Gaye shied away from heavy drug use and began exercising and 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 in June–July 1981. Gaye's personal attorney Curtis Shaw would later describe Gaye's Ostend period as "the best thing that ever happened to Marvin". When word got around that Gaye was planning a musical comeback and an exit from Motown, CBS Urban president Larkin Arnold eventually was able to convince Gaye to sign with CBS. On March 23, 1982, Motown and CBS Records negotiated Gaye's release from Motown. The details of the contract were not revealed due to a possible negative effect on the singer's settlement to creditors from the IRS.
Assigned to CBS' Columbia subsidiary, Gaye worked on his first post-Motown album titled Midnight Love. The first single, "Sexual Healing" which was written and recorded in Ostend in his apartment, was released on September 30, 1982, and became Gaye's biggest career hit, spending a record ten weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Black Singles chart, becoming the biggest R&B hit of the 1980s according to Billboard stats. The success later translated to the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January 1983 where it peaked at No. 3, while the record reached international success, reaching the top spot in New Zealand and Canada and reaching the top ten on the United Kingdom's OCC singles chart, later selling over two million copies in the U.S. alone, becoming Gaye's most successful single to date. The video for the song was shot at Ostend's Casino-Kursaal.
Sexual Healing won Gaye his first two Grammy Awards including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, in February 1983, and also won Gaye an American Music Award in the R&B-soul category. People magazine called it "America's hottest musical turn-on since Olivia Newton-John demanded we get Physical." Midnight Love was released to stores a day after the single's release, and was equally successful, peaking at the top ten of the Billboard 200 and becoming Gaye's eighth No. 1 album on the Top Black Albums chart, eventually selling over six million copies worldwide, three million alone in the U.S.
NME – December 1982
“ I don't make records for pleasure. I did when I was a younger artist, but I don't today. I record so that I can feed people what they need, what they feel. Hopefully, I record so that I can help someone overcome a bad time. ”
On February 13, 1983, Gaye sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the NBA All-Star Game at The Forum in Inglewood, California—accompanied by Gordon Banks, who played the studio tape from the stands. The following month, Gaye performed at the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever special. This and a May appearance on Soul Train (his third appearance on the show) became Gaye's final television performances. Gaye embarked on his final concert tour, titled the Sexual Healing Tour, on April 18, 1983, in San Diego. The tour ended on August 14, 1983 at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, California but was plagued by cocaine-triggered paranoia and illness. Following the concert's end, he retreated to his parents' house in Los Angeles. In early 1984, Midnight Love was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance category, his 12th and final nomination.
At around 12:38 p.m. (PST) on April 1, 1984, while Gaye was in his bedroom, his father Marvin Gay Sr. shot Gaye in the heart and then in his left shoulder, the latter shot taken at point-blank range. Minutes earlier, the two men had been involved in a physical altercation when Gaye intervened in a fight between his parents. The first shot proved to be fatal. Gaye was pronounced dead at 1:01 p.m. (PST) after his body arrived at California Hospital Medical Center. 
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 and Gaye's autopsy revealing the singer had drugs in his system. Marvin Gay Sr. was later sentenced to a suspended six-year sentence and probation. He died at a nursing home in 1998.
Main article: Personal life of Marvin Gaye
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