Perhaps one of Motown’s most versatile performers, Marvin Gaye did it all: Balladeer, musician, singing idol, one-half of the most famous vocal duo in R&B history, and, finally, an artist who used his music to address the serious issues of his day. Marvin Gaye joined Motown as a drummer, after a stint with Harvey and the Moonglows in the 1950s.
His first Motown hit, “Stubborn Kind of Fellow,” was released in 1961. It was followed by a string of successes, including “Hitchhike,” “Can I Get a Witness” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).” He later teamed with Motown Artists’ Kim Weston to record “It Takes Two;” Diana Ross on the album Diana & Marvin, which included the Top 20 hit, “My Mistake (Was to Love You);” and, most famously, with Tammi Terrell. Together, Marvin and Tammi scored major hits with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Your Precious Love” and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” among others. Still a popular solo artist, Marvin Gaye’s 1968 recording of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” sold four million copies and was the top-selling Motown single at the time.
Taking his career in a different direction in the early 1970s, Marvin began to write and produce his own records. He even played all of the instruments, starting with 1971’s What’s Going On. Described by a reviewer in Rolling Stone, the album was heralded as “the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices.” He went on to record and produce the groundbreaking albums, Let’s Get It On and I Want You, in the 1970s.
In addition to receiving a Grammy in 1982 for the single “Sexual Healing” and the Midnight Love album, Marvin is ranked sixth by Rolling Stone magazine on its list of the Greatest Singers of All Time and 18th among the Greatest Artists of All Time. He was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
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