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Remembering Soul Legend Marvin Gaye – Key Facts about His Life and Death

Pedro Marrero
Jul 06, 2020
10:00 A.M.

The legendary Soul singer’s troubling family history and self-destructive behavior overshadowed his musical legacy, and decades after his death, the public is still fascinated by his tragic rise and fall.


Singer Marvin Gaye died more than 35 years ago, a day before he could turn 45 years old, but his iconic career and tragic death due to gun violence by no other than his own father, has kept the interest in this artist very alive.

In 2000, when sixteen years had passed from his early death, there were still many loose ends in Gaye’s story, and author Steve Turner tried to shed new light on the subject by releasing the book “Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye.”

Late soul singer Marvin Gaye (1939 - 1984) poses for a portrait circa 1980. I Image: Getty Images.

Late soul singer Marvin Gaye (1939 - 1984) poses for a portrait circa 1980. I Image: Getty Images.


Turner reflected on the close relationship that exists between Gaye’s musical career and his shocking murder, noting that when fans listen to one of the late artist’s many hit songs they can’t keep from remembering how his life ended.

As Turner pointed out in his book, Gaye’s turbulent family life and drug problems were successfully concealed by his publicists, but it all started to surface after Gaye was shot by his father on April 1, 1984.

Marvin Gaye performing at Casino in  Oostende, Belgium in 1981. I Image: Getty Images.

Marvin Gaye performing at Casino in Oostende, Belgium in 1981. I Image: Getty Images.



Gaye was born in Washington, D.C. on April 2, 1939, his father Marvin Gaye Sr. was a minister at a local church, and it was in his father’s church where Marvin Jr. discovered his talent and passion for singing as a member of the gospel choir.

Marvin Jr. reportedly started to sing at age 2, and soon he was so popular that he accompanied his father to preach in church conventions frequently from an early age. Not content with this, Marvin Jr. also took piano and drums as a child.


By the late 1950’s Marvin Jr. had fallen in love with R&B and doo-wop and gave it the first try at popular music as part of the vocal group The New Moonglows, which success led for Marvin Jr. to sign with the legendary Motown Records.


Following the end of what was Marvin Jr.’s last tour, the singer, who had seen the decline of his career partly due to his substance abuse and depression, made the ill-fated decision of moving into his parents’ house.


Marvin Jr. and his father reportedly had a troubled relationship for the singer’s entire adult life, with the father condemning the son’s extravagant life and the son resenting that the father never felt proud of his son’s success.

Soon after starting living together once again, Marvin Jr. and his father soon began to fight each other, and these fights soon turned violent, with all the old conflicts being bitterly revived.

Marvin Gaye performs on stage at De Doelen, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 1st July 1980. I Image: Getty Images.

Marvin Gaye performs on stage at De Doelen, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 1st July 1980. I Image: Getty Images.


It was during one of those quarrels that Marvin Sr. took a gun and shot his son in the chest after Marvin Jr. had allegedly beaten him after the two started to argue about a misplaced insurance company letter.

At trial, Marvin Sr. pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and he was sentenced to a six-year sentence. Soon after the incident, Marvin Sr. was diagnosed with brain cancer and he died in a nursing home in 1998, aged 83.

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