I was watching the Tavis Smiley Show, as I do every night, and this night was a shock to me. He talked about it being 25 years since the great Marvin Gaye died. The thing about Marvin Gaye’s death is it was a shock to the world at that time. I remember it well, it’s a major moment in my childhood to be real. It popped up on the tube and my mom just yell ‘What” and walked off to the bathroom. Not sure if she cried or not, but I do know she was shook for a few days after the news. All the older people I was around were lost at that time, I think more for who killed him then what happened. Marvin Gaye was murdered by his farther, a gun shot to the chest during an argument.. It’s wild because I can only say that the closest I’ve come to something as a blow to my world was the death of Pac, Richard Pryor, James Brown Bernie Mac and George Carlin. And all those were more because it came so out of the blue.
Growing up I knew all of the Tammi and Marvin songs by heart and as well as early Marvin stuff. Didn’t appreciate “What’s Going On” until middle school that was when Public Enemy really was an impact in my life. So it was natural such a visionary like Marvin Gaye would also appeal to my musical taste. I remember having the white Motown tapes of ‘What’s Going On” and “I Want You” and playing them until they snapped. Even then I did the scotch tape the ends together and keep it moving trick. Didn’t start hunting down and buying the albums until my late teens early 20’s.
Since then I have collected crazy 45’s and albums, most sad to say are the less known stuff he recorded. I think his rendition of many Motown classics as well other artists’ songs are mind blowing. His Version of “I Wish It Would Rain” is so heart felt and just sad yet deep. Same can be said for “Yesterday”, it plays like a confession to the listener of heartbreak His openness and honest soul baring style is just an inspiration and influence to me. It’s as if you were his therapist and he just told you where he was in that point in his life. The “Here My Dear” album plays like audio bio pick for a man and his relationships. The way he goes old school doo wop to his new love is brilliant, what a way to say she makes me feel young again. And the way he put his then ex-wife on blast to a crazy backdrop is just too slick. That album and his later albums to follow got bad reviews but when listening to them today it showcases how he was ready to push the envelope and still stay grounded in the essence he was brought up on. There was a theme to his album that the time of their release was over people heads. Now when you hear it see it plays out with a nice pace.
Marvin was the man hands down, I know Motown kept him from really spreading his wings fully though. Not to mention his personal demons played a part as well in not going that extra mile in his career. But to even get into the foulness of his life and see he was who he was at the end of the day adds to the man, the legend that he is. Because no one should drop such touching jaw dropping honest music without internal battles in his life. Whether that’s drugs, insecurity, infidelity, seeking approval from family and peers or trying to break out of the shadows of people. You get that vibe in his interviews and his live shows played like a kid playing their favorite star in a mirror. He seemed very free and willing to do anything to make the show unique. I heard band members say they knew the opening and closing songs and the middle was what Marvin felt like doing that night That would have been a great gig or just to say you’ve been to more than one show and they weren’t the same routines is heaven for a fan. You will be missed and reborn over and over again through the influence you have made on musicians around the world no matter the genre.
Marvin Gaye April 2, 1939-April 1, 1984