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Marvin Gaye – Prince of Motown

Marvin Gaye – Prince of Motown

Marvin Gaye is an American legend. As a child, he would sing in church and eventually become a soloist in the choir.  Shortly after, he learns to play piano & drums. So, you can see pretty much see where his path in life is going. 

At odds with his father, in 1955, he quits high school and joins the Air Force. Unfortunately, after a subsequent honorable discharge just confirms that Marvin only follows his own rules.  Deciding to return to what he truly believed to be his calling music is his life path once again.

His Musical Journey

Being back home, he forms a group call the Marquees, which is a Doo Wop group. Fortune shines on them and shortly after Gaye joins forces with another successful combo the Moonglows. Led by the man who will eventually become Marvin’s musical mentor, Harvey Fuqua.  By joining up with the Moonglows, Marvin eventually finds himself at Motown in 1960 through Harvey, and he hooks up with Berry Gordy’s sister Gwen. 

Besides, playing drums and performing with the Moonglows, Gaye starts recording Sinatra styled crooner music which he loves.  Unfortunately, it’s not the commercial success he is expecting.  Despite this setback, he continues to create R&B and pop hits of the 60s penned by others.  He also proves to be an ideal partner, climbing the best-sellers by way of disc duets with Mary Wells, Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell. 

Changes – What’s Going On

While the 70s are reflecting a lot of troubled times, Marvin wants to perform fewer commercial projects and focus on what’s currently happening around him.  He wants to make music reflect these troubled times.  Marvin pours this and more into the melting pot that is What’s Going On, collaborating with others and drawing together the finest of Motown musicians. 

It becomes a huge hit. Furthermore, the 1970s work out pretty well for Gaye with film scores, duets with Diana Ross and Live At London Palladium in 1977.  Towards the end though, he’s going through a divorce, IRS, among other things, he relocates to Europe.

He Comes Out of Exile

Returning to the U.S. with 1982’s Midnight Love, the first album for his new label, Columbia. Marvin starts touring again.  During this time, he scores a televised gig performing the national anthem at NBA’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Sadly, in 1984, one day before his 45th birthday, he is shot to death by his father after having a heated argument.  

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him in 1987, declaring that Gaye “made a huge contribution to soul music in general and the Motown Sound in particular.”

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