Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. (April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984), better known as Marvin Gaye, was an American singer-songwriter and musician with a four-octave vocal range. Starting as a member of the doo-wop group The Moonglows in the late fifties, he ventured into a solo career after the group disbanded in 1960 signing with the Tamla Records subsidiary of Motown Records. After starting off as a session drummer, Gaye ranked as the label’s top-selling solo artist during the sixties
When the tour ended, he attempted to isolate himself by moving into his parents’ house in Los Angeles. As documented in the PBS “American Masters” 2008 exposé, several witnesses claimed Marvin’s mental and physical condition spiraled out of control. Groupies and drug dealers hounded Marvin night and day. He threatened to commit suicide several times after bitter arguments with his father. On April 1, 1984, Gaye’s father fatally shot him when Gaye intervened in an argument between his parents over misplaced business documents. The gun had been given to his father by Marvin Jr. four months previously. Marvin Gaye would have celebrated his 45th birthday the next day. Doctors discovered Marvin Sr. had a brain tumor but he was deemed fit for trial and was sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Charges of first-degree murder were dropped when it was proven that Gaye had beaten Marvin Sr. before the killing. Spending his final years in a retirement home, he died of pneumonia in 1998.
In 1987, Marvin Gaye Jr. was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was also honored by Hollywood’s Rock Walk in 1989 and was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990. In 2005, Marvin Gaye Jr. was admitted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. In 2007, two of Gaye’s most important recordings, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and “What’s Going On”, were voted Legendary Michigan Songs.