Indeed, life can be very harsh at times. It does not matter how successful or prosperous one is, challenges will always be there to stop somebody. It is up to an individual to decide whether to give in or rise above the challenge. Here is the story of a music legend, Marvin Gaye.
The Early Life of Marvin Gaye
Marvin Pentz Gaye Jr. was born to church minister Marvin Gaye Sr. and domestic servant Alberta Gaye on April 2nd, 1939, at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. His first residence was at 1617 1st Street SW, in the SW Waterfront district, in a public housing project known as the Fairfax Apartments.
Gaye was the couple’s second-oldest child out of four. Jeanne and Zeola were his sisters, while Frankie Gaye was his brother. Michael Cooper and Antwaun Carey Gay were his two half-brothers. Gaye started singing in church at the age of 4, with his father regularly accompanying him on the piano. Gaye and his family were members of the House of God. Gaye began singing at a young age and someone encouraged him to pursue a professional music career.
His father’s brutal whippings marked Gaye’s childhood which he received for any flaw. According to Gaye’s sister, Gaye’s father beat Marvin Gaye starting at the age of 7 and continuing until his adolescence.
Gaye went to Randall Junior High School after Syphax Elementary School. In junior high, Gaye embarked on singing more seriously and he joined the Randall Junior High Glee Club, where he rose to stardom. Gaye attended Spingarn High School for a short time before moving to Cardozo. Marvin Gaye was a member of various doo-wop vocal ensembles while at Cardozo, including the Dippers and the D.C. Tones.
Marvin Gaye’s connection with his father deteriorated during his adolescence, as his father frequently chased him away from the house. Gaye, at 17, dropped out of high school and enlisted as a basic airman in the United States Air Force in 1956.
Last Motown recordings and European exile
Gaye released Here, My Dear in December 1978, inspired by the consequences and the fallout from his first marriage to Anna Gordy. He recorded it with the purpose of sending her a percentage of the proceeds as alimony payments, as he owed her, but it didn’t do well on the charts.
Gaye’s cocaine addiction worsened at this time, and he was dealing with various financial troubles with the IRS. Due to these problems, he relocated to Maui, where he battled to produce a disco-influenced album titled ‘Love Man’, which was to be out in February 1980 but was later canceled. Marvin Gaye embarked on his first European tour in 4 years that year. When the tour ended, the singer moved to the UK to avoid the authorities imprisoning him for failing to pay back taxes, which had grown to more than $4 million ( US $14,134,289 in 2020 dollars).
Gaye then rebuilt Love Man from its disco origins into another socially concerning record, evoking religion and the possible end of the world from a chapter in the Book of Revelation.
Gaye worked on the album, titled ‘In Our Lifetime?’, for much of 1980 in London facilities such as Odyssey Studios and Air. Someone took a master cassette of a rough draft of the album from one of Gaye’s traveling musicians, Frank Blair, in the fall of that year, and delivered it to Motown’s Hollywood offices.
On January 15th, 1981, Motown reworked the record and published it. When Gaye learned of the album’s release, he accused Motown of modifying and remixing it without his permission, permitting the release of an incomplete production, changing the album image at his request, and removing the album’s ironic question mark.
He also accused the label of rushing the record’s release, comparing his incomplete album to a Picasso picture that was never completed. Marvin Gaye then promised to never record another song for Motown.
About Midnight Love
Marvin Gaye worked on his first post-Motown record, ‘Midnight Love’, for CBS’s Columbia subsidiary. The first single, “Sexual Healing,” was written and recorded in Freddy Cousaert’s apartment in Ostend, and released in September 1982. It was Gaye’s biggest career hit, spending a record ten weeks at the top of the Hot Black Singles chart, making it the biggest R&B hit of the 1980s.
The song’s success translated to the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it peaked at No. 3, as well as international success, reaching No. 1 in Canada and New Zealand, as well as the top 10 in the UK’s OCC singles chart, Australia, and Belgium, selling more than two million copies in the US alone, making it Marvin’s most successful single to date.
In February 1983, Gaye received his first 2 Grammy Awards. Midnight Love was out less than a month after the single and was just as successful, peaking in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 and becoming Gaye’s eighth No. 1 album on the Top Black Albums chart, eventually selling more than six million copies worldwide, including three million in the US alone.
The death of Gaye
On the afternoon of April 1st, 1984, in the family home in the West Adams district of Los Angeles, Gaye intervened in a fight between his parents, and he became involved in a physical altercation with his father, Marvin Gay Sr., who shot Gaye twice, once in the chest, piercing his heart, and then into Gaye’s shoulder.
At 12:38 p.m., a shooting occurred in Gaye’s bedroom. The first shot was lethal. Gaye died at California Hospital Medical Center at 1:01 p.m., just one day before his 45th birthday.