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Marvin Gaye's Biography

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Marvin Pentz Gay II was born April 2, 1939, in Washington, D.C. Later in life he changed his name to Marvin Gaye.

His father, Reverend Marvin Gay Sr, was an ordained minister in the House of G-d, described as 'Hebrew Pentecostal' - an unusual mix of Christianity and Judaism. Reverend Gay was a frighteningly tough disciplinarian.

Marvin Gaye started singing in church as an infant, and as a child he took up the piano and drums.

At 15, Marvin Gaye joined the 'doowop' group, The Rainbows. Marvin also sang with The Moonglows.

Marvin Gaye moved to Detroit and joined the Tamla/Motown company in 1961. His first single was Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide in May 1961, and in June 1961 he had his first album The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye.

In 1962 he started to break-through. Stubborn Kind of Fellow reached 46 in the US charts, and Hitch Hike reached number 30.

In 1963 Pride and Joy reached number 10 and in November 1964, the classic How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) reached No.6.

Marvin Gaye was married to the sister of Motown boss, Berry Gordy, but the latter still saw fit to reject I Heard It Through The Grapevine first time round. Gladys Knight and the Pips did well with their version and a year later Marvin Gaye's version not only hit Number One but was also to be the best-selling Motown single of the sixties.

Gaye sang in a number of duos, in particular, with Mary Wells, Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell. In the late 60s Gaye and Terrell released a number of tracks but in 1967 during a concert in Virginia, Terrell collapsed into Gaye's arms. According to Bill Selden V, quoted in Trouble Man by Steve Turner:

"Then as she [Tammi Terrell] began the third song, which was Ain't No Mountain High Enough, she started to collapse right next to Marvin and he caught her before she hit the ground ..."

It wasn't realised at the time but Tammi had a brain tumour. Her illness and subsequent death on 16 March 1970 affected Marvin Gaye deeply.

In 1970 Berry Gordy was refusing to release What's Going On?, reportedly saying "This is the worst record I ever heard."

Marvin refused to record anything until it was released. Instead he was immersing himself in personal change and he read, for example, The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda. As time went by so Marvin Gaye's struggles grew, however he continued to release good music, some of it in duets with Diana Ross. A stand-out of this later period was the hit, Sexual Healing, but by the time of its release Marvin Gaye had a major cocaine habit and he had started becoming paranoid.

On April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye was shot dead by his father.

Marvin Gaye's daughter, Nona, is a successful actress and musician.

Smoking Gun has some interesting military documents on Marvin Gaye that give an insight into his life and character.

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