The Most Difficult Of Beginnings

The rags-to-riches celebrity story has become a cliche, but there was nothing cliche about the agonizing childhood Marvin and his siblings endured at the hands of their father. Things got off to a bad start when Marvin Gay Sr. married Marvin Gaye’s mother, Alberta, who already had a child of her own. Marvin Gay Sr. refused to “raise another man’s child,” so Alberta’s first son Michael was sent to live with Alberta’s sister. 

Marvin Gay, Sr., was an American Pentecostal minister and a disciplinarian. He would test his children’s knowledge of bible passages and savagely beat them if their answers erred. 

Marvin Gaye Takes The Brunt

Despite a hellacious childhood Marvin made himself into something great (wcyb)

Gaye was one of four of Gay Sr.’s children, but for whatever reason, young Marvin was the one who took the worst of the beatings. According to his sister, Jeanne, starting at the age of seven until his teenage years, Gaye’s life was an unending series of “brutal whippings.” Marvin himself likened growing up in his father’s house to “living with a king, an all-cruel, changeable, cruel and all-powerful king.“

Marvin Gaye Takes The Brunt

Coming Down From On High

Gaye won his elusive Grammy not long before his untimely death (udiscovermusic)

Marvin Gaye’s unbelievable achievements are well documented. He became the sound of Motown and became one of the few artists to transcend the crazy high of the genre. Despite such success, Gaye’s difficult childhood came home to roost in the form of drugs, alcohol, depression, and tax evasion.

Forced to leave the country in order to avoid jail time, Marvin’s life fell apart just one year after winning his first Grammy, for the unforgettable classic “Sexual Healing.” After falling into financial, emotional, and psychological hardship, Gaye ominously moved in with his parents.

Coming Down From On High

Gay Senior’s Many Foibles

Although he brutally enforced a strict moral code on his children, Gay Sr. battled with alcohol, infidelity, and his own sexual hangups — it turns out the brutal minister was a closet cross-dresser. Sr. also harbored extreme jealousy toward his son’s rampant success. When the son moved back into the father’s household, a confrontation was inevitable. 

Gay Senior’s Many Foibles

A Lost Insurance Policy And A .38 Caliber Revolver

The fateful incident occurred on April 1, 1984, when Gay Sr. began ranting and raving at Gaye’s mother over a lost insurance policy. Eventually, Marvin challenged his father, demanding he leave his mother alone. Unfortunately, that only stoked Gay Sr.’s rage. The elder man climbed the stairs to continue berating his fleeing wife, Alberta.

Gaye decided enough was enough and physically challenged his father. , „Marvin hit him. I shouted for him to stop, but he paid no attention to me. He gave my husband some hard kicks.“ That’s when Gay Sr. collected the revolver that his son had given him for Christmas and shot Gaye twice.

Alberta watched her husband kill her son, „I was standing about eight feet away from Marvin, when my husband came to the door of the bedroom with his pistol,“ said Alberta. „My husband didn’t say anything, he just pointed the gun at Marvin. I screamed but it was very quick. He, my husband, shot – and Marvin screamed. I tried to run. Marvin slid down to the floor after the first shot.“ 

The great Marvin Gaye’s last words were very telling, “I got what I wanted…I couldn’t do it myself, so I made him do it.”

A Lost Insurance Policy And A .38 Caliber Revolver

A Suspended Sentence And Great Regret

Gay Sr. plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and somehow Judge Gordon Ringer only gave him a six-year suspended sentence and five years of probation. Perhaps he saw that the damage to Sr. was already done.

At his sentencing, he expressed sorrowful remorse, “ „I didn’t mean to do it. If I could bring him back, I would. I was afraid of him. I thought I was going to get hurt. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I’m really sorry for everything that happened. I loved him. I wish he could step through this door right now. I’m paying the price now.“ Marvin Gay, Sr., died in a nursing home in 1998 of pneumonia. 

Über Marvin Gaye

Perhaps the pervasive element of tragedy that ruled Marvin Gaye’s life accounts for the profound intimacy found in his songs. He scored dozens of hits for Motown in the 1960s both as a solo act („How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You),“ „I Heard it Through the Grapevine“) and singing duets („Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“). A late-decade period of depression and solitude ended with recounted the disintegration of his marriage in such detail that his wife considered suing for privacy invasion. Gaye’s final chart topper was „Sexual Healing“ (1983), a luscious ballad that simmered erotically beneath Gaye’s velvet-lined vocals. His unexpected death in 1984 at the hands of his father renewed interest in his life, music and Digital

Über Marvin Gaye

Perhaps the pervasive element of tragedy that ruled Marvin Gaye’s life accounts for the profound intimacy found in his songs. He scored dozens of hits for Motown in the 1960s both as a solo act („How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You),“ „I Heard it Through the Grapevine“) and singing duets („Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“). A late-decade period of depression and solitude ended with recounted the disintegration of his marriage in such detail that his wife considered suing for privacy invasion. Gaye’s final chart topper was „Sexual Healing“ (1983), a luscious ballad that simmered erotically beneath Gaye’s velvet-lined vocals. His unexpected death in 1984 at the hands of his father renewed interest in his life, music and Digital

AllMusic Review by AllMusic

The soundtrack to the 2007 holiday release of the same name, THIS CHRISTMAS is also a seasonally appropriate various-artists anthology. Along with a handful of new Christmas recordings (Jordin Sparks’s version of „I’ll Be Home For Christmas“ and Chris Brown’s title track) and Yuletide classics (Aaron Neville’s „Please Be Home For Christmas“ and TLC’s „Sleigh Ride“), THIS CHRISTMAS also features a few non-holiday gems, including Marvin Gaye’s early disco classic „Got To Give It Up“ and Aretha Franklin’s breakthrough hit „I Never Loved A Man.“

Icons | December 21, 2019

CIRCA 1974: Soul singer Marvin Gaye plays piano as he records in a studio in circa 1974. (Photo by Jim Britt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Marvin Gaye’s murder, at the hands of his own father when Gaye was just 44 years old, was a shocking loss. His diverse catalog included hard-hitting soul („I Heard It Through The Grapevine“), seductive jams („Let’s Get It On,“ „Sexual Healing“) and a full-length era-embodying masterpiece (the 1971 album What’s Going On).

Gaye, who added the E for his stage name, was shot and killed by his father, using a revolver that Gaye gave him for Christmas. This is the story of one of the bleakest deaths in celebrity history.