The paramour of cool, responsible for the birth of babies, Marvin Gaye’s musical subject matter ran the gamut from activism to partying, love-making and heartbreaking. Rolling Stone named him the 6th Greatest Singer of All Time. And one cannot help but feel a bit of melancholy over a life that ended way too soon.
American music as a whole is forever funkier just for him having lived. I can think of no musician who better personified the experience of the African-American male in this country. The living embodiment of black masculinity, as it were. He was poetic in his prose, stylish almost to a fault, displaying vocal brilliance with his signature five-octave singing style the likes of which none can replicate after years of trying.
Born in 1939 in Washington, D.C., Marvin Gaye’s catalog of hits include timeless works including “What’s Going On,” “Let’s Get It On,” “Inner City Blues,” “Mercy, Mercy Me,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” and “Sexual Healing.”
What cold-souled individual can recount a time he or she was left untouched by Marvin’s works?
But his life was imperfect, just as that of most immortal talents. He suffered through intermittent drug addiction throughout life. And it was that demon that eventually led to death. On April 1, 1984, just a day before his 45th birthday, while talking to his mother, Marvin Gaye was shot twice by his father. Rushed to California Hospital Medical Center, he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.
The subjects that Marvin pained over in song are still as prevalent and important today as they were 30 years ago at the time of his passing. The message of peace, universal love, and forgiveness in his smooth melodically empathic rhythms make for calming, feel-good thoughts on the born day of King Gaye.
Happy Birthday, Marvin. You are still missed and will forever be loved.