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Marvin Gaye was a soul singer-songwriter with Motown in the 1960s and 1970s. He produced his own records and often addressed controversial themes.
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When it was released in the spring of 1971, the What's Going On album served to open Gaye up to new audiences while maintaining his Motown following.
Departing from the tried and true Motown formula, Gaye went out on his own artistically, paving the way for other Motown artists like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to branch out in later years. Beyond influencing his peers,
the album garnered widespread critical acclaim, winning the Rolling Stone Album of the Year award.
In 1972, Gaye moved to Los Angeles and soon met Janis Hunter, who would later become his second wife. Inspired in part by his newfound independence, Gaye recorded one of the most revered love anthems of all time, "Let's Get It On." The song became his second number one Billboard hit, cementing his crossover appeal once and for all. Shortly afterwards, Motown pushed Gaye into touring to capitalize on his most recent success; reluctantly the singer-songwriter returned to the stage.
Through most of the mid-1970s, Gaye was touring, collaborating or producing. Working with Diana Ross and The Miracles, he would put off releasing another solo album until 1976. He continued touring after the release of I Want You (1976) and released his last album for Motown Records (Here, My Dear) in 1978. After two decades at Motown, Gaye signed with CBS's Columbia Records in 1982 and began to work on his last album, Midnight Love. The lead single from that album, "Sexual Healing," became a huge comeback hit for the R&B star and earned him his first two Grammy Awards and an American Music Award for Favorite Soul Single.
In 1975, Gaye's wife Anna Gordy -- Barry Gordy's daughter -- filed for divorce, and two years later Gaye married Hunter, who had by then given birth to their daughter, Nona (born September 4, 1974) and their son Frankie (born November 16, 1975). Gaye also had an adopted son (Marvin Pentz Gaye III) from his previous marriage. The singer's marriage to Hunter proved short lived and tumultuous, ending in divorce in 1981.
Despite his successful comeback in the early 1980s, Gaye struggled badly with the substance abuse and bouts of depression that had plagued him for most of his life. After his last tour, he moved into his parents' house. There he and his father fell into a pattern of violent fights and quarrels that recalled conflicts that had haunted the family for decades. On April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye Sr. shot and killed his son after a physical altercation; the father claimed he acted in self-defense but would later be convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
Three years after his death, Marvin Gaye Jr. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Creating beautiful art from a troubled life, Gaye again and again brought his vision, range, and artistry to the world stage. At the end of his career, he admitted he no longer made music for pleasure; instead, he said, "I record so that I can feed people what they need, what they feel. Hopefully, I record so that I can help someone overcome a bad time."
© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
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