Marvin Gaye Tribute, Part 1

It was 35 years ago today that we lost one of the most amazing talents in music history in the ugliest imaginable way. #marvingaye

I remember it like it was yesterday: I was getting off from class and heading to my part-time job. When I got to work, I turned on a radio news channel, and there it was: Marvin Gaye, one of the most influential, amazing and celebrated artists in music history had died.

He was only 44 years old, just one day shy of his birthday. But it was in the way he died that made me just shake my head in disbelief: he was murdered while asleep in bed. He was shot several times, basically at point blank range.

Marvin Gaye, 1983, at the Grammy Awards. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage).

I thought it was some kind of sick joke. It was April Fool’s Day, after all. I mean, who would kill Marvin Gaye? His father, a preacher? Really? It was similar to the way I felt about John Lennon being murdered. Completely and utterly senseless, a means for someone to pretend that they are God, as all murder by gun violence truly is at its core.

What made this seem all the more horribly unfair was that Gaye was riding a HUGE comeback, including a world tour, a top 10 Pop album and a top 3 Pop single (both would also hit #1 on the R&B charts), platinum album and single awards and winning the only two Grammy Awards he would receive during his lifetime.

Marvin Gaye, in the studio, 1973. Photo by Jim Britt, courtesy of Motown Records/UMG.

It had been years since Gaye was so popular, and his success was part of a wave of 1960’s artists who would update their sound in the 1980’s to a wildly enthusiastic audience. Having seen him on his last tour in 1983 in my hometown of Los Angeles (where Gaye had also relocated) was unbelievable. I took my mother, who cried so much that her mascara was running uncontrollably down her face, kinda of giving her a sad racoon kind of look.

A 1975 Cadillac, similar to the one my mother owned that transported us to see Marvin Gaye live.

I remember that we took the trip to the venue in her burgundy Cadillac. Her lover at the time, Jimmy Abadacca, would later burn it to the ground. He was such a dick. Yeah, and that happened. That’s the way love is, I gather. But I digress…

Let me tell you this: she wasn’t the only woman there to experience this. (I’m talking about the mascara, of course, but wouldn’t rule out another burning vehicle at the hands of some douchebag, either.) In fact, it might have been every woman there. Because that’s who Gaye was to his fans.

This day is always filled with an odd kind of melancholy for me on a lot of levels.

The absolutely ridiculous and awesome cover of Marvin Gaye’s SuperHits, 1970, Courtesy of Motown Records/UMG.

Even though this bitterly ugly thing had happened, later that night, at an April Fool’s Party, I met a man who would change my life forever. We bonded over the death of Gaye by listening to Super Hits and talking all night. I don’t know if this was the universe attempting to bring triumph from tragedy. Some things I just don’t question, because sometimes the answers just aren’t going to be there in the way we want them to.

This is the first of a two part mini-series, the other part broadcasting tomorrow, 02 April, on what would have been Marvin Gaye’s 80th birthday.

Marvin Gaye Tribute Program, Part 1

*indicates original mono single mix

  • Sexual Healing (alternate mix)
  • Stubborn Kind of Fellow*
  • You’re A Wonderful One
  • Piece of Clay
  • Pride and Joy*
  • Flying High (In The Friendly Sky) (Detroit mix)
  • Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) (Detroit Mix)
  • Trouble Man
  • You
  • Baby Don’t You Do It
  • Let’s Get It On
  • I Want You
  • Sparrow
  • I’m Afraid (The Masquerade Is Over)
  • Pretty Little Baby*
  • Rockin’ After Midnight
  • Your Precious Love (with Tammi Terrell)
To download this program,please click on the three dots on the right of the player.

Love to you all.

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner

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