Archives for : MARVIN GAYE

jan Gaye: After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye


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Gaye, Jan. After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye. Amistad: HarperCollins. May 2015. 224p. ISBN 9780062135513. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062135537. MEMOIR
On her 17th birthday, Janis Hunter met rhythm-and-blues legend Marvin Gaye as he was stumbling out of his first marriage, and despite a 16-year age difference, they launched a too-hot-to-handle affair.

Their own marriage eventually collapsed under the weight of fame, drug abuse, and domestic strife. Here, Jan speaks out for the first time since Marvin was shot and killed by his father in 1984. Reportedly sizzling stuff, with many famed music figures of the day drifting through; with a 50,000-copy first printing.


This searing memoir of drugs, sex, and old school R&B from the wife of legendary soul icon Marvin Gaye.

On her seventeenth birthday in 1973, Janice Hunter met Marvin Gaye-the soulful prince of Motown with the seductive liquid voice whose chart-topping, socially conscious albumWhat”s Going Onmade him a superstar two years earlier. Despite a sixteen-year-age difference and Marvin”s marriage to the sister of Berry Gordy, Motown”s founder, the star-struck teenager and the emotionally volatile singer began a scorching relationship.

One moment Jan was studying high school history; the next she was accompanying Marvin to parties with other pop stars, lounging with Don Cornelius on the set ofSoul Train,and helping to discover new talent like Frankie Beverly. But the distractions and burdens of fame, the chaos of dysfunctional families, and the irresistible temptations of drugs overshadowed the love they shared and their marriage disintegrated.

Silent since Marvin”s tragic death in 1984, Jan at last opens up, sharing the moving, erotically charged story of one of music history”s most fabled marriages. Unsparing in its honesty and insight, illustrated with sixteen pages of color and black-and-white photos,After the Dancereveals what it”s like to ride shotgun on a wave of fame and self-destruction with a tortured genius who helped transform popular culture and whose artistry continues to be celebrated today.



“Let’s Get It On”: This Day In Music






On this day in 1973, Marvin Gaye’s iconic “Let’s Get It On” hit No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts, and spent 11 weeks at the summit.

Let’s Get It On: Anniversary


Let’s Get It On is the twelfth studio album by American recording artist Marvin Gaye, released August 28, 1973, on Tamla Records. Recording sessions for the album took place during June 1970 to July 1973 at Hitsville U.S.A. and Golden World Studio in Detroit, and at Hitsville West in Los Angeles. Serving as Gaye’s first venture into the funk genre and romance-themed music, Let’s Get It On incorporates smooth soul, doo-wop, and quiet storm. It has been noted by critics for its sexually suggestive lyrics, and was cited by one writer as “one of the most sexually charged albums ever recorded”.

Following the breakthrough success of his socially conscious album What’s Going On (1971), Let’s Get It On helped establish Gaye as a sex icon and furthered his mainstream appeal. It produced three singles—title track, “Come Get to This“, and “You Sure Love to Ball“—that attained Billboard chart success. Let’s Get It On became the most commercially successful album of Gaye’s recording career, and it further expanded his creative control during his tenure with Motown. Its sexual balladry, multi-tracking of Gaye’s vocals, and seductive, funk sound influenced later R&B artists and production.

The album has been regarded by many music writers and critics as a landmark recording in soul music. It furthered funk music’s popularity during the 1970s, and its smooth soul sound marked a change for his record label’s previous success with the “Motown Sound” formula. Let’s Get It On has been named one of the best albums of all time by various critics and publications. In 2001, it was reissued by Motown Records as a two-disc deluxe edition release.

Marvin Gaye: Motown Monday



Marvin Gaye was an accomplished session drummer who recorded over 26 classics on drums? In fact, in 1963, when 13-year old Stevie Wonder first entered the US singles chart as Little Stevie Wonder with ‘Fingertips Parts One and Two’ they featured a young Marvin Gaye on drums. It was the first live, non-studio recording to reach No.1 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in the United States since Johnny Standley’s 1952 comic monologue ‘It’s in the Book’.

Marvin Gaye: The Ed Sullivan Show





On this day in 1966, Marvin Gaye makes his first and only appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show performing “Take This Heart Of Mine.”

This Day In R&B Music History


This Day In R&B Music History: On April 23, 1971 The Number One cut on the R&B Chart was “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye (5 weeks at #1).

Marvin Gaye: Happy 75th Birthday!



1966. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Marvin Gaye: 30th Anniversary


Marvin Gaye: (April 2, 1939-April 1, 1939)


Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. was born on April 2, 1939 in Washington D.C. to Marvin Gay, Sr., a preacher, and Alberta Gay (née Cooper) , a housewife and schoolteacher. He first grew up in a house located at 1617 First Street SW, only a few blocks from the Anacostia River. The First Street neighborhood was nicknamed “Simple City” owing to its being “half-city, half country”. …

When Marvin was in his teens, the family relocated to the Deanwood section of north eastern D.C. Marvin was the second eldest of Marvin Gay, Sr.’s children and the third overall of six. He had two sisters: Jeanne and Zeola, and three brothers: Michael Cooper, Frankie Gaye and Antwaun Gaye. Michael Cooper was from his mother’s previous relationship while Antwaun was born as a result of his father’s extramarital affairs.

The middle child of three children, Marvin Gaye’s childhood can be characterized by developing an early love of music. Marvin Gaye’s introduction to music began by singing in his father’s church choir accompanied by his father on piano, when he was only three years old. Marvin and his family were part of a Pentecostal church known as the House of God. The House of God took its teachings from Hebrew Pentecostalism, advocated strict conduct, and adhered to both the Old and New Testaments. He expanded his musical abilities by learning how to play the piano and drums. He was encouraged by his mother to pursue a professional music career after a performance at a school play.

Marvin attended Cardozo High School and joined several doo-wop vocal groups, including the Dippers and the D.C. Tones. The younger Marvin’s relationship with his father worsened during his teenage years as his father would kick him out of the house for what he perceived was misbehavior. Following an argument in which he stood up against his father, the younger Marvin walked out of the house for good and dropped out of high school. With dreams of being a flyer, 17-year-old Marvin enlisted in the United States Air Force as a Basic Airman. Disappointed in having to perform menial tasks, he faked mental illness and was discharged shortly afterwards. Gaye’s sergeant stated that Marvin refused to follow orders.

Elgie Stover:(1938-2011)


Elgie Stover is an American songwriter, composer, producer and background singer, most famous for his association with uncle Mr. Harvey Fuqua and Mr. Marvin Gaye, co-writing two of Marvin’s songs from the acclaimed album ”what’s going On”. He grew up in Cleveland. Ohio later moving  to Detroit with his brother Kenneth, where the brothers both worked closely with Harvey on his Tri-Phi Record label in the late 1960s,after befriending staff at Motown the brothers signed with the label as staff songwriters and producers.

Elgie’s famous work came as a result of working so closely with Marvin,with whom he and Kenneth had befriended shortly after they signed with Motown.Elgie,co-wrote with Marvin,wife Anna and Iris on The Originals 1970 classic ”The Bells”.A year later,Elgies greatest contribution came when he took part in writing ”Flying High in a Friendly Sky” and ”God is Love” on Marvins ”Whats Goin On”Album.He is credited as the voice that helps open up the hit ”Whats Goin On” with ”Hey man,whats happening?” and ”Everything is Everything”.

Elgie later co-wrote Marvins 1973 ballad ”Just to keep you satisfied”.Elgie is vocally heard shouting and screaming on a demo version of Marvins later hit ”Distant Lover” from a November 1970 session as Marvin struggled with Motown over releasing the ”Whats Goin On” single.

Anna Gordy Gaye: January 28, 1922 – January 31, 2014

anna gordy


Anna Ruby Gordy Gaye (née Gordy; January 28, 1922 – January 31, 2014) was an American businesswoman, composer and songwriter. An elder sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, she became a record executive in the mid-to-late 1950s distributing records released on Checker and Gone Records before forming the Anna label with Billy Davis and sister Gwen. Gordy later became known as a songwriter for several hits including the Originals‘ “Baby, I’m for Real“, and at least two songs on Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On album. The first wife of Gaye, their turbulent marriage later served as inspiration for Gaye’s album, Here, My Dear.

Born in Milledgeville, Georgia, located in Baldwin County, Georgia, Gordy was the third eldest of Berry Gordy Sr. (Berry Gordy II) and Bertha Ida (née Fuller) Gordy’s eight children. Shortly after her birth in 1922, Gordy’s family relocated to Detroit. Following graduation from high school in 1940, Gordy relocated to California, which is where Gordy’s younger brother Berry moved to after he dropped out of high school. Returning back to Detroit in the mid-1950s, she and younger sister Gwen became operators of the photo concession at Detroit’s Flame Show Bar.

By the late 1950s, members of the Gordy family were getting involved with the music business. In 1956, Anna began her career distributing records with Checker Records. Around 1957, she distributed a couple recordings for Gone Records. In 1958, she founded the label, Anna Records, with musician Billy Davis. Gordy’s younger sister Gwen acted as co-partner with the label. The label was formed a year before Berry launched Tamla Records, later a subsidiary for Motown. Anna distributed Tamla’s first national hit, Barrett Strong‘s “Money (That’s What I Want)“. Artists such as David Ruffin and Joe Tex also recorded for the label while Marvin Gaye became a session musician with the company. After the label was absorbed by Motown in 1961, Gordy joined Motown as a songwriter. Some of Gordy’s early compositions were recorded by Gaye and Mary Wells. In 1965, Gordy co-wrote Stevie Wonder‘s “What Christmas Means to Me”.

Gordy later co-composed the Originals‘ hits, “Baby, I’m for Real” and “The Bells” alongside Marvin Gaye. Gordy’s name was included as a co-songwriter on two songs off Gaye’s 1971 album, What’s Going On, including “Flyin’ High (In the Friendly Sky)” and “God Is Love“. In 1973, Gordy’s name was included in the credits to the song, “Just to Keep You Satisfied“, which was first recorded in 1969 by the Monitors and also recorded by the Originals two years later. Gaye’s version was actually overdubbed from the Originals recording and reversed the song’s romantic lyrics for a more solemn view of the end of a marriage. Gordy eventually left Motown at the end of the 1970s and retired from the music industry.

Personal life

Gordy first met Marvin Gaye in 1959 when Gaye was just 20 years old, singing with Harvey and the New Moonglows. Gaye soon began working at Anna Records and soon developed an attraction to Gordy. They eventually began dating in 1960. After a three-year courtship, they married in June 1963. Inspired by their romance, Gaye penned hit singles based off Anna including “Stubborn Kind of Fellow“, “Pride & Joy” and “You’re a Wonderful One“. Of “Pride and Joy”, Gaye said, “When I composed ‘Pride and Joy’, I was head over heels in love with Anna. I just wrote what I felt about her, and what she did for me. She was my pride and joy.”

The marriage between Marvin and Anna was reportedly turbulent, leading to public spats. In order to bring some stability to their home life, Anna and Marvin adopted a little boy who was born on November 17, 1966. The boy was soon named after his adopted father (Marvin Pentz Gaye III). While the boy was said to have been naturally conceived by Anna and Marvin during Motown’s public relations stories of the couple, Marvin himself would confirm the adoption in David Ritz‘s Marvin biography, Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye. In later years, the identity of the mother was revealed as Denise Gordy.

In 1971, the couple moved to Hollywood. Two years later, the couple filed for legal separation with Gaye settling in with a young woman named Janis Hunter, with whom Gaye would have two children with. In November of 1975, Gordy filed for divorce. After nearly two years, the case was settled in Gordy’s favor after Gaye agreed to remit a portion of his royalties off his next album to Gordy. The resulting album, Here, My Dear, gave audiences a view of the marriage through Marvin’s point of view. Released in December 1978, Gordy heard the album and threatened to sue Marvin for $5 million for invasion of privacy. Nothing came of this threat.

In the 1980s, Marvin and Anna reconciled as friends and Anna was on hand with Marvin at industry events following the release of his comeback album, Midnight Love, in 1982. Gordy also attended the Grammy Awards in 1983 where Gaye won two of the trophies. Gaye’s death in 1984 devastated Gordy; later she and Marvin’s three children disposed of most of Gaye’s ashes near the Pacific Ocean following his cremation after his funeral while Anna herself kept a portion of Marvin’s ashes following his funeral.

When Gaye was honored with induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Gordy attended and accepted Gaye’s induction to the Hall of Fame on his behalf with Marvin Gaye III. Gordy never remarried following her divorce. Gordy’s last public appearance came in June 2008 when she attended the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Heart Foundation event where brother Berry was being honored.

Gordy died on January 31, 2014, at the age of 92, following many years of declining health.

Maxine Powell: A Motown Legend




Born Maxine Blair, May 30, 1924, in Texarcana, Texas; daughter of Clarence and Gladys Blair.
Education: Studied drama under Baron James; attended the John Robert Powers School of Modeling, Chicago, IL.


Worked as a professional stage actress throughout the Midwest beginning in her teens; became a model in Chicago in the mid 1940s; worked as a manicurist and make-up artist in Detroit, MI in the late 1940s; Maxine Powell Finishing and Modeling School, Detroit, founder, 1951; Motown Records, Detroit, finishing instructor and consultant, 1964-69; Wayne Community College, Detroit, instructor, 1971-85.

Life’s Work

The individual most responsible for Motown Records‘ “Image of Young America,” Maxine Powell brought refinement and sophistication to many of the most gifted popular music artists of the 1960s. A founding member of Motown’s Artist Development department, Powell became the record company’s finishing instructor as well as fashion designer and consultant. Stressing the importance of social etiquette, posture, and stage presence, her personal instruction helped launch the careers of many artists, including Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross. When she officially joined Motown in 1964 Powell brought over a decade of professional experience to Detroit’s burgeoning record label. Always active at the forefront of social change, Powell is a woman of many talents. Her efforts have helped define the social outlook and image of an entire generation.

Powell was born in Texarcana, Texas, on May 30, 1924, to Clarence and Gladys Blair. At six months of age Powell came to Chicago where she was raised by her aunt. Growing up in a middle-class household, Powell spent many hours attending church and learning the rules of proper dress and etiquette. Powell became an intent observer of human nature. She explained in an interview with a Contemporary Black Biography contributor, “When I was young I came to realize how people were all born and conceived in the same manner; that since all children are helpless and innocent at birth, their differences are determined by their upbringing, not color.” Her belief in the influence of a person’s upbringing on his/her character later impelled Powell to help others by teaching the values of beauty, discipline, and positive self-image.

After joining a dramatic league at age 14, Powell studied under Baron James, a prominent writer, producer, and director. Over the next eight years she performed character parts in stage plays throughout the Midwest. Under the tutelage of Sammy Dyer, Powell also became a professional dancer. Dissatisfied with her stage voice and developing little interest in the art of dance, Powell decided to leave the performing arts in order to study modeling.

Powell’s training at several Chicago charm schools, including the famed John Powers School, provided her with the background needed for a successful modeling career. Under her maiden name Maxine Blair, she became well known in Chicago’s modeling industry. Despite the protestations of her family, Powell studied cosmetology, and in the late 1940s made a living as a manicurist and a make-up artist for a number of leading models.

In 1948 Powell came to Detroit for a weekend stay at the Gotham Hotel, one of the finest black-owned establishments in the country. Through an acquaintance at the Gotham, Powell found work as a manicurist within an elite circle of African American Detroiters and stayed in the city. During the late 1940s Powell joined the Zontas Business and Professional Organization, a black civic group dedicated to the desegregation of Detroit’s theaters, ballrooms, and other public venues.

As the organization’s negotiator and director, Powell met with white businessmen and community leaders to, as she explained during an interview with Contemporary Black Biography, “open new doors in places of public rental which had considered off limits to blacks.” By 1951 Powell had opened Ferry Center, a catering and office complex featuring several meeting rooms and a lavish ballroom facility, and had established Detroit’s first black modeling agency.

From 1951 to 1964, many of Powell’s students worked as professional models for such automobile companies as Pontiac, Chrysler, Dodge, and Packard. “She was a black women entrepreneur in the 1940s and 1950s, when black men were just getting started,” commented Detroit attorney Myzell Sowell in the Detroit News. “She convinced the auto companies to use black models. Her contributions were tremendous.”

Powell was a friend to Berry Gordy, the up-and-coming impresario of Motown Records, and his sister, Gwen, was one of Powell’s students. Powell first met the Gordys during the early 1950s, when she hired their family printing business to prepare programs for her annual Las Vegas-style fashion show. Since the early 1960s, Berry Gordy had sought Powell’s opinion regarding the young talent signed to his small record label. As Nelson George explained in his book Where Did Our Love Go?, “It was nothing at first; just a friend helping a friend. But as time went on she found herself caught up in the enthusiasm for Berry’s record company.”

In 1964 Powell closed her business operations to join Motown as a special company consultant. After giving the title Artist Development to Motown’s new finishing school on West Grand Boulevard, Powell set out to instruct the label’s artists, many of whom came from Detroit’s housing projects, on the fine points of stage presence and public speaking. Her students included Martha Reeves, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, and the Supremes, whose stage clothing she made from department store sale items.

Powell spent two hours a day with each performer, teaching them that they were being trained for two places, “The White House and Buckingham Palace.” But many of the young stars did not share Powell’s sense of deportment. Powell described them as “rude and crude” to the Detroit News. “They were twenty years old, and all they wanted was a hit record. I told them, I’m teaching you skills for life.” In the Detroit Free Press Powell recalled how Marvin Gaye, although always a willing pupil, thought himself above her methods. “I said ‘Marvin, you don’t need as much training as some of them. But you sing with your eyes closed. We have to work on that. And you’re so handsome, I want to be sure you use every ounce of your body in walking.’ Then I showed him how to do it.”

Under Powell’s guidance Motown artists were groomed to play the stages of the Copacabana, Latin Casino, the Ed Sullivan Show, and concert halls throughout England. “I taught positive change through body language and word power,” stressed Powell in an interview for Contemporary Black Biography. “I told these young artists that they were not the best singers and dancers in the world, that our race has always had great performers. My job was to keep them from going on an ego trip–to remind them that each performance was a dress rehearsal.”

Powell taught the Motown performers that each individual was capable of achieving an intrinsic sense of beauty. “She told us we were all God’s flowers,” related Martha Reeves in the Detroit Free Press, adding that Powell inspired them to “let the inner beauty show.” Throughout her career this metaphor has served as Powell’s guiding principle. Since the late 1940s, Powell has taught that humanity’s diversity is similar to a vast bouquet of flowers, that each individual, regardless of size, shape, or color, possesses unique qualities of beauty, truth, and leadership.

Upon her departure from Motown in 1969, Powell brought her expertise to the classroom. In 1971 she began teaching a course in personal development at Wayne Community College; the class featured Powell’s own textbook Development and Professional Development. As a private instructor Powell has taught hundreds of students, including former Miss USA Carol Gist. Since the 1980s Powell has been interviewed in a number of popular publications: People Magazine, Look, and Time. She has also appeared on several television programs in the United States and Canada. One of Powell’s most memorable tributes came in 1975, when Diana Ross introduced her to a Broadway audience as the “lady who taught me everything I know.” There is little doubt that such recognition has been long overdue for a person who has influenced the lives and careers of so many people. Whenever a Motown artist performed on stage, the audience unwittingly paid tribute to the artistry of Maxine Powell.


Maxine Powell: Women Of Class

                                           Maxine Powell, Motown etiquette maven, has died

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Maxine Powell, the feisty former finishing school teacher who told Marvin Gaye to stop singing with his eyes closed, died this morning at Providence Hospital in Southfield. She was 98.

The Texas-born Powell was one of the founding members of Motown’s fabled Artist Development department, along with bandleader Maurice King and choreographer Cholly Atkins. She taught the Supremes how to get in and out of a car while wearing a skirt and how to conduct themselves in public and onstage.

Berry Gordy Jr. met her after his sisters attended her Detroit finishing school.

In a video interview aired at a tribute to Powell at the Motown Historical Museum in August, Gordy recalled that Powell would tell his Motown acts that someday they would perform before kings and queens. “But she’d say, ‘In the meantime, we must make do on the circuit of the chitterling’ ” (known to most as the chitlin’ circuit).

In August, although Powell had to have help getting around, she had a few quips for reporters. She talked about how Marvin Gaye told her he “didn’t need charm school.”

“It’s a finishing school,” she said, correcting him. “Well, I don’t need finishing,” Gaye replied.

“You don’t need as much as some, but you close your eyes when you’re singing, and people think you’re asleep, I told him,” Powell said. “And, you slouch. So we’ll work on those two things.”

“They were diamonds in the rough,” she said of the young men and women who often lived just streets away from 2648 W. Grand.

During Motown star Martha Reeves’ tenure on Detroit City Council, Powell worked as one of her assistants. Today, the city council paused for a moment of silence in remembrance of her.


Lenny Kravitz: Trouble Man



It is official, Lenny Kravitz will play the role of Marvin Gaye in a new film about the late singer’s life.

Let’s Get It On: 40th Anniversary!


In the spring of 1972, Marvin Gaye was suffering from writer’s block] Following the release of his most commercially successful album up to that point, What’s Going On (1971), and the soundtrack album to the blaxploitation film Trouble Man (1972), Gaye had struggled to come up with new material after Motown Records had renegotiated a new contract with him. The contract provided him with more creative control over his recordings. The deal was worth $ 1 million, making him the highest-earning soul artist, as well as the highest-earning black artist, at the time.

He was also struggling with deciding whether or not to relocate to Los Angeles, following Motown-CEO Berry Gordy‘s move of the record label and replacement of the Detroit-based Hitsville U.S.A. (Motown Studio A) recording studio with the Hitsville West studio in Los Angeles. Amid relocation and his lack of material, Gaye was struggling with his conscience, as well as dealing with expectations from his wife, Gordy’s sister Anna. Gaye’s separation from Gordy pressured him emotionally. During this time, he had also been attempting to cope with past issues that had stemmed from his childhood.

During his childhood, Gaye had been physically abused by his preacher father Marvin Gay, Sr., who disciplined his son under extremely moralistic and fundamentalist Christian teachings. As a result, the meaning and practice of sex had later become a disturbing question for Gaye. As an adult, he suffered with sexual impotence and became plagued by sadomasochistic fantasies, which haunted him in his dreams and provoked some guilt in his conscience.

According to Gaye’s biographer David Ritz, “his view of sex was unsettled, tormented, riddled with pain”. Gaye learned to cope with his personal issues with a newly found spirituality. He began incorporating his new outlook into his music, as initially expressed through the socially conscious album What’s Going On, along with promotional photos of him wearing a kufi in honor of African traditional religions and his faith.

By winning over record executives with the success of What’s Going On, Gaye attained more creative control, which he would use, following his brief separation from wife Anna Gordy, to record an album that was meant to surface themes beyond sex] As with What’s Going On, Gaye wanted to have a deeper meaning than the general theme that was used to portray it; in the case of the former, politics, and with its follow-up effort, love and romance, which would be used by Gaye as a metaphor for God’s love. In his book Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, David Ritz wrote of Gaye and the musical inspiration behind Gaye’s second landmark record:

If the most profound soul songs are prayers in secular dress, Marvin’s prayer is to reconcile the ecstasy of his early religious epiphany with a sexual epiphany. The hope for such a reconciliation, the search for sexual healing, is what drives his art … The paradox is this: The sexiest of Marvin Gaye’s work is also his most spiritual. That’s the paradox of Marvin himself. In his struggle to wed body and soul, in his exploration of sexual passion, he expresses the most human of hungers—the hunger for God. In those songs of loss and lament—the sense of separation is heartbreaking. On one level, the separation is between man and woman. On a deeper level, the separation is between man and God.

In the album’s liner notes, Gaye explained his views on the themes of sex and love, stating “I can’t see anything wrong with sex between consenting anybodies. I think we make far too much of it. After all, one’s genitals are just one important part of the magnificent human body … I contend that SEX IS SEX and LOVE IS LOVE. When combined, they work well together, if two people are of about the same mind. But they are really two discrete needs and should be treated as such. Time and space will not permit me to expound further, especially in the area of the psyche. I don’t believe in overly moralistic philosophies. Have your sex, it can be exciting, if you’re lucky. I hope the music that I present here makes you lucky.”

Gaye proceeded to record some more politically conscious material at the Golden World Records studio, known as Motown’s Studio B, as well as the preliminary vocals and instrumentation for some of the material to be featured on Let’s Get It On.Following the earlier sessions in Detroit at Golden World, Gaye recorded at Hitsville West in Los Angeles from February to July 1973.

Accompanied by an experienced group of session musicians called The Funk Brothers, who had contributed to Gaye’s What’s Going On, and received their first official credit, Gaye recorded the unreleased songs “The World is Rated X” and “Where Are We Going” and the single “You’re the Man” (1972) at Golden World.

“Where Are We Going” was later covered by trumpeter Donald Byrd. Gaye had planned the release of an album titled You’re the Man, but it was later shelved for unknown reasons. The songs that were to be included on it, along with other unreleased recordings from Hitsville West and Golden World, were later featured on the 2001 re-release of Let’s Get It On.

The album’s first recording, “Let’s Get It On“, was composed by Gaye with friend and former Motown label mate Ed Townsend. It was originally written by Gaye as a religious ode to life, but Motown singer-songwriter Kenneth Stover re-wrote it as a more political first draft.

Upon hearing Gaye’s preliminary mix of Stover’s draft, Townsend protested and claimed that the song would be better suited with sexual and romantic overtones, particularly “about making sweet love.” Gaye and Townsend rewrote the song’s lyrics together with the original arrangements and musical accompaniment of the demo intact. The lyrics were inspired by Janis Hunter, whom Gaye had become infatuated with after meeting each other through Ed Townsend during the initial sessions.

Townsend has cited Hunter’s presence during the album’s recording as an inspiration for Gaye. Gaye’s intimate relationship with Hunter subsequently became the basis for his 1976 album I Want You. While recording the title track, he was inspired to revive unfinished recordings from his 1970 sessions at the Hitsville U.S.A. Studio.

Townsend assisted Gaye with producing the rest of the album, whose recording took place at several sessions throughout 1970 to 1973.They worked on four songs together, including the ballad “If I Should Die Tonight“, while Gaye composed most of the other songs, including those from past sessions. “Just to Keep You Satisfied” was originally recorded by several Motown groups, including The Originals and The Monitors, as a song dedicated to long-standing love.

With re-recording the song, he had re-written the arrangement and lyrics to address the demise of his volatile marriage to Anna Gordy Gaye, who happened to be the original song’s co-writer. The background vocals for the album were sung by Gaye, with the exception of “Just to Keep You Satisfied”, which were done by The Originals.[ Most of the instrumentation for the album was done by members of The Funk Brothers, including bassist James Jamerson, guitarists Robert White and Eddie Willis, and percussionist Eddie “Bongo” Brown. Gaye also contributed on piano during the session.

Let’s Get It On” features soulful, passionate vocals and multi-tracked background singing, both by Gaye.[ It has a 1950s-styled melody and begins with three wah-wah guitar notes and centers around simple chord changes, while its arrangements are centered around an eccentric rhythm pattern.

Its signature guitar line is played by session musician Don Peake. Music journalist Jon Landau dubs the song “a classic Motown single, endlessly repeatable and always enjoyable”. The song is reprised on the fourth track, “Keep Gettin’ It On“. It expands on the title track’s sensual theme with political overtones: “won’t you rather make love, children / as opposed to war, like you know you should.”

“Distant Lover” has Gaye crooning over serene instrumentation, leading to soulful screams near the end; from a heartbroken croon to an impassioned wail. The song’s lyrics chronicled the yearning its narrator feels for a lover who is “so many miles away”, as he pleads for her return and laments the emptiness he feels without her.

Music writer Donarld A. Guarisco later wrote of the song’s sound, in that “Marvin Gaye’s studio recording enhances the dreamy style of the song with stately horn and strings, tumbling drum fills that gently nudge the song along, and mellow, doo wop-styled background vocals that echo “love her, you love her” under his romantic pleas. The song later became a concert favorite for Gaye and a live concert version, featuring female fans screaming in the background, was released as a single from his Marvin Gaye Live! album in 1974.

You Sure Love to Ball” is one of Gaye’s most sexually overt and controversial singles, with its intro and outro featuring moaning sounds made by a man and woman engaged in sex. The sexual-explicit and risqué nature of the album’s content were, at the time, controversial, and the recording of such an album was deemed as a commercial risk by Motown A&R‘s (Artists and Repertoire) and label executives.

Released on August 28, 1973, Let’s Get It On surpassed Gaye’s previous studio effort, What’s Going On, as the best-selling record of his tenure with Motown. The album peaked at number two on the US Billboard Top LPs chart, succeeded by The Rolling Stones‘s Goats Head Soup (1973),while it also managed to reach number one in Cash Box for one week, as well as two weeks at the top of Record World‘s music charts.

Let’s Get It On charted for 61 weeks on the Billboard charts, and remained at the top of the Billboard Soul Albums for 11 weeks, becoming the best-selling soul album of 1973. The album’s lead single, “Let’s Get It On”, became one of Gaye’s most successful singles, as it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on September 8, 1973.

It remained at number one for two weeks, while also remaining at the top of the Billboard Soul Singles chart for eight weeks. The single was at that time Motown’s largest-selling recording ever, selling over three million copies between 1973 and 1975. On June 25, 2007, it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of one million copies in the United States.

Two of the album’s singles reached the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including “Let’s Get It On”, which became Gaye’s second number-one US single, and the top-30 hit “Come Get to This”, which peaked at number 23 on the chart. The album’s third single, “You Sure Love to Ball“, charted at number 50 on the Hot 100 and at number 13 on the Soul Singles chart. Along with the album’s music and sexual content, Let’s Get It On‘s commercial success and promotion helped establish Marvin Gaye as a sex icon, while helping further expand his artistic control during his tenure at Motown.

This commercial success also lead to a much publicized tour for Gaye to promote Let’s Get It On and expand on his repertoire as a live performer.Successful concert performances of the album’s material helped Gaye gain an increasing popularity and fan base in the pop market, while earning him a reputation as one of the top live performers of the time.[19] His performance at the Oakland Coliseum during the 1973-1974 tour was released on the 1974 LP Live!, which would serve as Gaye’s only release during his sabbatical period in the mid-1970s.

Let’s Get It On received positive reviews from music critics. Billboard called it “fine in terms of vocal attack and material […] touches on the excellent in terms of instrumental support”, while citing the title track and “Distant Lover” as the album’s best recordings. Jon Landau of Rolling Stone found Gaye’s performance on-par with that of What’s Going On and wrote that “he continues to transmit that same degree of intensity, sending out near cosmic overtones while eloquently phrasing the sometimes simplistic lyrics”.

Although he viewed that it “lacks that album’s series of highpoints”, Landau commented that “it ebbs and flows, occasionally threatening to spend itself on an insufficiency of ideas, but always retrieved, just in time, by Gaye’s performance. From first note to last, he keeps pushing and shoving, and if he sometimes takes one step back for every two ahead, he gets there just the same — and with style and spirit to spare”. In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau called the album “post-Al Green What’s Going On, which means it’s about fucking rather than the human condition, thank the wholly holey”.

He found its title track to be “as much a masterpiece as ‘Inner City Blues‘” and quipped, “this album prolongs its seductive groove to an appropriate thirty minutes plus”.

Since its initial reception, Let’s Get It On has been viewed by writers as a milestone in soul music. In The Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Records of All Time, Jimmy Guterman writes that the album was “a bit more conventional musically (soul crossing into mild funk) and much more focused lyrically than its predecessor, What’s Going On“.

Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot commended Gaye for using “the multi-tracked vocals perfected on ‘What’s Going On‘, this time to convey his most intimate desires”, commenting that “while the album is replete with erotic imagery, both implied and explicit, it is also as much preoccupied with distance and unfulfilled need” Jason Ankeny of Allmusic called it “a record unparalleled in its sheer sensuality and carnal energy”, writing that “Gaye’s passions reach their boiling point […] With each performance laced with innuendo, each lyric a come-on, and each rhythm throbbing with lust, perhaps no other record has ever achieved the kind of sheer erotic force of Let’s Get It On“.

Ankeny also dubbed it “one of the most sexually charged albums ever recorded.”Allmusic’s Lindsey Planer cites it as a “hedonistic R&B masterpiece.” BBC Music‘s Daryl Easlea found Gaye “in supreme command of his material”, and viewed it as “much more than an album about simple lust”, but an “iconic, rapturous work”.

Much like What’s Going On, Let’s Get It On has been included in a significant amount of “best album” lists by critics and publications] It was ranked number 58 on The Times‘s 1993 publication of the 100 Best Albums of All Time.Blender magazine ranked the album number 15 on its list of the 100 Greatest American Albums of All Time.

In 2003, it was ranked number 165 on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time publication, his second highest entry on the list, as well as one of three Marvin Gaye albums to be included; What’s Going On (number 6) and Here, My Dear (number 462). In 2004, Let’s Get It On was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and cited by The Recording Academy as a recording of “historical significance

Blurred Line’s VS. Got To Give It Up!

59902_694948987187381_1126442627_nCollaborators Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. have launched legal action against Marvin Gaye‘s family after the Motown star’s  relatives accused the trio of copying his work on their summer smash hit  “Blurred Lines.”

The Gaye family and bosses at Bridgeport Music, who own the rights to George Clinton‘s band Funkadelic‘s compositions, claim that “Blurred  Lines” bears striking similarities to Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” and  Funkadelic’s track “Sexy Ways.”


However, Thicke, Williams and T.I., named in the suit as Clifford Harris Jr.,  have filed paperwork to protect their hit song, insisting that they have not  broken any copyright but were simply evoking the funk era with the track. In  legal papers filed at California Federal Court on Thursday, the trio argue that  “being reminiscent of a ‘sound’ is not copyright infringement. The intent in  producing ‘Blurred Lines’ was to evoke an era.”

According to the suit, details  of which were obtained by editors at The Hollywood Reporter, the  trio state that they “have the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye,  Funkadelic and their musical legacies, (but) reluctantly file this action in the  face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those  artists. Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs’ massively successful  composition, ‘Blurred Lines,’ copies ‘their’ compositions.”

The suit further claims the Gaye family is alleging that “Blurred Lines” and  “Got to Give It Up” “feel” or “sound” the same, and that the “Gaye defendants  are claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work.”

The Gayes and executives at Bridgeport Music are said to be threatening  litigation should the trio not pay a monetary settlement, but rather than wait  for a lawsuit to proceed, the plaintiffs are going to court to determine the  parties’ respective rights and obligations. In seeking a judgment, Thicke,  Williams and Harris Jr. are not only looking for a declaration that their song  doesn’t violate the defendants’ rights by copying their songs, but also that the  “Gayes do not have an interest in the copyright to the composition ‘Got to Give  It Up’ sufficient to confer standing on them to pursue claims of infringement of  that composition.”

“Blurred Lines” has continued to dominate the U.S. charts, and earlier this  week the track hit its tenth consecutive week at the No. 1 on the top ten  countdown.

Motown Revue:The Early Years!

Berry Gordy’s Motortown Revue. From left: Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Eddie Kendricks, Elbridge Bryant, Uriel Jones, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, Diana Ross, Robert Bullock, Patrice Gordy, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson.

Credit: Berry Gordy.1006188_681800951835628_1906410310_n

Robin Thick: #1

Blurred-Lines-655x360Robin Thicke scores his first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1, as  “Blurred Lines,” featuring T.I. and Pharrell, vaults 6-1. Ariana Grande  and Mac Miller, meanwhile, return to the top 10 each with “The Way” and  Miley Cyrus enters at No. 11 with “We Can’t Stop.”

“Lines” leaps to the Hot 100’s top spot as the chart’s top  Digital, Airplay and Streaming Gainer. The song is the first to claim  all three honors simultaneously since the lattermost award was  introduced in March last year.

The funky track spends a second week at  No. 1 on Digital Songs, gaining by 38% to 315,000 downloads sold,  according to Nielsen SoundScan, and reaches the top 10 on Radio Songs  and Streaming Songs.

it vaults 17-8 on the former chart (73 million  all-format audience impressions, up 50%) and 24-8 on the latter (3.5  million U.S. streams, up 66%), according to Nielsen BDS.

Marvin Gaye: on top of Topanga Canyon 1973

marvin 1973

Tammy Terrell: Happy Bithday!


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