American singer-songwriter and musician with a three-octave vocal range, born April 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C., USA, died April 1, 1984 in Los Angeles, California, USA when he was shot by his father Marvin Gay, Sr. Inducted into Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 [Performer]. Starting as a member of 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.
Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going on album is considered the best soul album in history. Much has been said about What’s Going On’ political bent, and it’s true that the music was partially inspired by Marvin’s brother Frankie, who had come back from a three-year tour of Vietnam, along with troublingly violent episodes like the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Kent State shootings that saw four students killed by national guardsmen. Songs like peace-espousing title track and “What’s Happening Brother“, which finds Gaye expressing a war veteran’s helplessness upon returning home, show Marvin’s dismay toward his country and government. But this album isn’t just a protest time capsule, far from it, Gaye’s disappointment isn’t just societal, it’s personal as well. During this period, the singer had lost his duet partner and dear friend, Tammi Terrell, his marriage to Gordy’s sister Anna was violently breaking down, and he was being tailed by the IRS for unpaid back taxes. His resulting depression is evident throughout; What’s Going On isn’t a fiery album filled with timely sloganeering. Part of its long-lasting appeal involves an element of true-to-life resignation. “Who’s willing to try to save a world/ That’s destined to die,” he sings on “Save the Children”, pinpointing an American melancholia– a mix of world-saving power and funereal inevitability– that endures today. Right On has an INCREDIBLE SOUND! I felt like if i were in “Ocean’s Eleven”. A delicious sound of flute in the background, a jazzy sound from the band and lyrics that protest about social class division, is one of the best songs in the album. Inner City Blues (Make me wanna Holler), the bongo sounds are united with xilophone and saxophone creating an atmosphere of relax and poetry, very harmonic song. The lyrics talks about a life in a city where you can’t live well because you are fulled with obligations and taxes.
His marijuana-soaked delivery, along with the album’s mutating, percussion-fueled rhythms, majestic strings, and jazzy horns, give the affair levity. Perhaps this smooth front also has to do with the fact that Gaye was “hardly an activist in the traditional sense,” while his Vietnam-battered brother was an emotional catalyst, Gaye had neglected to send him one letter during his army stint. And though he was certainly aware of the Detroit race riot that left 43 people dead in 1967, he viewed the sad display on TV from his cushy home on the outskirts of town. Not to say Gaye didn’t wholeheartedly believe in the progressive observations found on What’s Going On, but his relative distance from his subjects allows him to fly over top of them, providing a healing pulse to the disarray below, creating an album as timeless as this one.