- Category : Entertain-Music-Instrumentalist
- Type : PE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Split - Small (18,28)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Tension 1
American singer, songwriter, keyboard player and drummer, one of the lead stars of the Motown group during the '60's and '70s and an influential force in the music scene. The gifted Gaye blazed a trail for Motown’s presentation of black talent, moving from lean, powerful R&B to stylish, sophisticated soul to finally arrive at an intensely political and personal form of artistic self-expression.
Marvin was the second of three kids born to an ordained minister in a conservative Christian sect which imposed strict codes of conduct and observed no holidays. He began singing in church at age three, rapidly standing out with a voice that developed into a graceful tenor and three-octave range. Music was an escape from the grim realities of salvation and his dad’s daily beatings. After graduating high school, Gaye had a stint in the U.S.A.F. before he began singing in various doo-wop groups. Cutting a single with the "Rainbows," he segued into the "Moonglows."
Berry Gordy Jr. signed him to the Motown label in 1961 where he played as a sessions drummer and sang backup to Smokey Robinson. He met and married Gordy’s sister Anna in late 1961. It was not until his fourth single, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" that he had a minor hit, in 1962. His next two singles reached the Top 30.
Gaye often found himself in conflict with the Motown emphasis on placing in the charts and he battled to croon lush romantic ballads.
In a collection of duets with Mary Wells, Gaye scored his first charting LP in 1964. As a solo performer, his scored three superb Top Ten hits, "Ain't That Peculiar," "I'll Be Doggone," and "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" -- in 1965. In total, he scored some 39 Top 40 singles for Motown, many of which he also wrote and arranged. His greatest duets were with Tammi Terrell, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough,"1967 and "Your Precious Love," followed by "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "You're All I Need to Get By," 1968.
Sadly, Terrell died of a brain tumor on 3/16/1970. Gaye’s marriage was also suffering stress at that time and he spent much of 1970 in seclusion, reevaluating his personal and career directions. Early in 1971, he produced his own highly percussive album, "What’s Going On," incorporating jazz and classical elements to forge a remarkably sophisticated and fluid soul sound. A concept ional masterpiece which spoke to Gaye’s spiritual beliefs, it heralding a dramatic shift in both content and style which forever altered the face of black music. Gordy released it reluctantly but it was vindicated by reaching the No.2 spot in 1971. Gaye assumed artistic control over his work, helping to loosen the reins for other Motown artist. In 1972, Gaye showcased his increasing interest in jazz and in 1973, his "Let’s Get It On" was one of his most sexually charged albums and the most commercially successful.
In 1975, Gaye’s divorce from Anna was nasty, keeping him in divorce courts much of the time. He was hit heavily by missed alimony payments in 1976. He remarried in the late ‘70s but his escalating drug problems doomed the union. He relocated to Hawaii for a while to sort out his personal affairs.
With long standing pressure from the IRS about his taxes, he fled to Europe in 1981 where he started to work on a new LP. He severed his long-standing relationship with Motown over arguments about editing the recording. Stories circulated about his addiction to cocaine in 1982 along with erratic behavior. He put out a hit record with Columbia and he made peace with Gordy in 1983 by appearing on a Motown silver anniversary special.
Returning to the U.S., Gaye moved in with his parents as he tried to come to terms with drug addiction. The return home only sent him into a spiral of depression, quarrels with his dad and threats of suicide. Finally, on 4/01/1984,
he was shot and killed by his father the day before his 45th birthday, Los Angeles, CA.