Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr., better known by his stage name Marvin Gaye(April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) was an American singer-songwriter andinstrumentalist with a three-octave vocal range. Starting as a member of the doo-wop group The Moonglows in the late fifties, he ventured into a solo career after the group disbanded in 1960 signing with the Tamla subsidiary of Motown Records. After a year as a session drummer, Gaye ranked as the label’s top-selling solo artist during the sixties.
Due to solo hits including “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)“, “Ain’t That Peculiar“, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and his duet singles with singers such as Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell, he was crowned“The Prince of Motown” and “The Prince of Soul”.
Notable for fighting the hit-making but restrictive Motown process in which performers and songwriters and producers were kept separate,Gaye proved with albums like his 1971 What’s Going On and his 1973Let’s Get It On that he was able to produce music without relying on the system, inspiring fellow Motown artists such as Stevie Wonder andMichael Jackson to do the same.
His mid-1970s work including the Let’s Get It On and I Want You albums helped influence the quiet storm, urban adult contemporary and slow jamgenres. After a self-imposed European exile in the late seventies, Gaye returned on the 1982 Grammy-winning hit, “Sexual Healing” and theMidnight Love album before his death. Gaye was shot to death by his father on April 1, 1984. He was posthumously inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.