back to profile

Marvin Gaye


1939

Marvin Pentz Gay (a.k.a. Marvin Gaye) is born in Washington, D.C.

1957

Marvin Gaye forms his first group, the Marquees, with school chums Reese Palmer, James Nolan and Chester Simmons. Their lone single, “Wyatt Earp,” was produced by Bo Diddley.

1960

Marvin Gaye meets Motown founder Berry Gordy at a Christmas party. The two hit it off, and Gaye goes on to become one of Motown’s mainstays.

1961

The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye, an album of jazz-pop standards and Gaye’s debut, is released. It fails to chart, as do his next three albums.

1964

Together, an album of duets by Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells, is released. It is Gaye’s fifth album and first to make Billboard’s Top 200 album chart.

1965

“I’ll Be Doggone” becomes Marvin Gaye’s first R&B chart-topper and second Top Ten pop hit.

1967

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the first of many duets by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, peaks at #19.

1968

“I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” by Marvin Gaye, tops the R&B and pop charts for the first of seven weeks. It comes almost exactly a year after Gladys Knight and the Pips’ version of the song topped the R&B charts for six weeks.

1970

Philadelphia vocalist Tammi Terrell, who has been Marvin Gaye’s favorite duettist, dies three years after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

1970

Marvin Gaye records “What’s Going On,” a jazzy self-production, at Motown’s Studio A. It will become a huge hit (#2 pop, #1 R&B) and the title track of Gaye’s influential 1971 album.

1971

What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye’s magnum opus, is released. It is the first Motown album to include printed lyrics and to credit Motown’s house musicians by name.

1972

Washington, D.C celebrates “Marvin Gaye Day,” an homage to Gaye and his new album, What’s Going On. That night, Gaye performs his first concert in nearly four years at the Kennedy Center.

1973

Let’s Get It On, Marvin Gaye’s album-length meditation on matters of the flesh, is released.

1973

“Let’s Get It On,” by Marvin Gaye, tops the singles charts for the first of two weeks.

1974

Marvin Gaye Live!, which documents the singer’s first concert in five years, reaches #8 on the album chart as his album of duets with Diana Ross descends after a nearly yearlong run.

1976

Marvin Gaye performs sold-out shows on consecutive nights in London, one of which will be released the next year as Marvin Gaye Live at the London Palladium.

1977

Got to Give It Up, Part 1,” by Marvin Gaye, becomes Gaye’s third Number One pop single and twelfth R&B chart-topper.

1979

Marvin Gaye releases Here, My Dear, a double album that dramatically documents the dissolution of his marriage to Anna Gordy Gaye.

1981

Motown releases Marvin Gaye’s In Our Lifetime before the artist considers it finished. As a result, Gaye vows never to record for the label again.

1982

Midnight Love, Marvin Gaye’s first album for Columbia Records, is released. The album and single “Sexual Healing” return Gaye to prominence.

1982

“Sexual Healing” tops the R&B chart for the first of ten weeks. Early in 1983 it will peak at #3 on the pop chart.

1983

“Sexual Healing,” by Marvin Gaye, wins Grammy Awards for Best Male Vocal Performance and Best Instrumental Performance. They are the first Grammys of Gaye’s career.

1984

Following an argument, Marvin Gaye is shot to death by his father at his parents’ home in Los Angeles.

1987

Marvin Gaye is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the second annual induction dinner. Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson are his presenters.

1995

The Master 1961-1984, a four-disc overview of Marvin Gaye’s career, is released on Motown Records.

1996

Vulnerable, an unreleased album of ballads by Marvin Gaye, finally sees the light of day twelve years after his death. Gaye once remarked, “Of all my albums, I love this one the most.”

1996

Marvin Gaye posthumously receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences at the 38th annual Grammy Awards.

2001

On the thirtieth anniversary of its original release, Marvin Gaye’s classic What’s Going On is issued in a two-disc deluxe edition that includes alternate mixes and a historic 1972 performance.

Marvin Gaye