April 2nd would have been the 72nd birthday of Marvin Gaye. It’s hard to imagine that he’s been gone for almost thirty years. Despite the fact that I was only 7 when he passed, I still remember hearing the news of his death very clearly. It was the first time that a musician I was very cognizant of as a recent hitmaker had passed away-and in such bizarre fashion as well. I’m sure many folks who are older must have thought it was a cruel April Fool’s Day joke when it happened (Marvin was killed on April 1st.)
Just a year before, Gaye had experienced one of pop music’s all-time great comebacks. Although he’d released albums as recently as 1981’s In Our Lifetime, he hadn’t had a sizable pop or R&B hit since 1977’s “Got to Give it Up”. In the fall of 1982, “Sexual Healing” brought him back in a major way-peaking at #3 on the pop charts in one of the greatest periods for pop music in history (seriously, look at a top ten chart from that period-almost every song is a classic) and spending nearly three months at the #1 position on the soul charts. The following January, Gaye was presented with the Favorite Soul Single award at the American Music Awards. Interestingly, the only American Music Awards (or Grammys) that Marvin picked up were during the last full year of his life.
Watching his acceptance speech, it’s easy to see that the man oozed class and cool. His speech was so short as to make Michael Jackson look long-winded, but the joy he felt upon receiving that trophy is obvious.