40 years later, Marvin Gaye’s Death Still Evokes Sorrow on April Fools’ Day

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By Timothy Cox
Editor-n-Chief
Seventies Soul

BALTIMORE, MD — Like so many of my fellow Americans and Seventies Soul Music enthusiasts, we still recall the sorrowful moments when we learned Motown’s Marvin had been shot and killed.

Ironically it occurred on April Fools’ Day, a Sunday afternoon and the shooter was his very own father, a protestant minister named Marvin Gaye Sr. And we soon learned – this was no joke!


MARVIN GAYE’S ALBUM COVER, WHAT’S GOING ON – 1971

Monday, April 1, 2024, will mark the 40th anniversary of Marvin P. Gaye Jr.’s tragic death.  Unfortunately, he was killed one day before his 45th birthday. Therefore, April 2, 2024 would’ve been Marvin’s 85th birthday.

For the man who was known as the Prince of Motown, his ill-fated death was one of a national tragedy. Throughout the nation, his death struck a bad chord with all of his fans, men and especially the throngs of women who considered him a sex symbol. For this reporter, Gaye’s death was learned while watching the CBS Sunday evening news with friends and family. The announcer sadly reported his death in a very somber way. Gaye’s death had an international shocking impact and was nearly equal to the April 4 assassination event of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King 16 years prior to, in Spring 1968.


MARVIN’S CLASSIC 1960S MOTOWN LOOK.

An argument twixt Gaye’s cross-dressing father and his mother, led their oldest son to stepping in to help his mother. The elderly father never loved his son, according to Gaye’s mother, which prompted the older man to pull out a .38 pistol and shoot his younger namesake.

Musical survivors of the Motown legacy, like myself, shall never forget April 1,1984 and in addition, we will never forget the legend of Marvin Pence Gaye Jr. – one of America’s all-time great male vocalists. I recall my one and only time witnessing Marvin in concert. It was a summer 1983 show at downtown Pittsburgh’s Stanley Theater.

That night, wearing a satin-red smoking jacket, he sang the popular come-back tune  “Sexual Healing,” which earned him his first Grammy Award. I can also recall the winter of 1974, when young black men (teenagers like myself) followed Marvin’s fashion statement by wearing the rolled-up winter beanie/skull-caps. We called it the Marvin Gaye look. Definitely cool, just like Marvin during his “Come Get to This” period.

As a native of Northwest Washington, D.C., it’s quite obvious that Marvin does not receive nearly enough deserved recognition as a native Washingtonian, as he should. Makes you wanna ask, “What’s Going On?” or “Holla, and Throw Up Both Your Hands.”


CHECKOUT YOUNG MARVIN P. GAY JR., (circled center) AS A TEENAGER AT RANDALL JR. HIGH SCHOOL IN WASHINGTON, DC., JUNE 1954. HE LATER ATTENDED CORDOVO HIGH SCHOOL, BEFORE DROPPING OUT TO PURSUE A MUSIC CAREER. (PHOTO CREDIT Fred Shultz and DC Historical Center)

Instead, he gets way more love and attention in the “D” as a Detroit Motowner — especially at 2648 West Grand Boulevard at the site of the historical Motown Museum.

On a new note, we welcome new RnB vocal sensation, October London. His new album was released in the fall of 2023, and is aptly titled the “Rebirth of Marvin.” His debut single from the LP is titled “Back To Your Place,” and his vocals are eerily reminiscent of the great Marvin Gaye. October London, real name Jared Samuel Eskine, 37, from South Bend, Indiana, is a budding star, sounding like Marvin – having signed with Snoop Dogg’s Death Row Records in 2022.

May God continue to rest Marvin Gaye’s soul … April 2, 1939 to April 1, 1984.

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