Not only was he one of Motown’s greatest musical artists, he was also married to Berry Gordy’s sister, making him an official member of the Motown family! We all know his music, but how well do you know the man? Here are 10 facts you might not know about Marvin Gaye….
1. Before getting his own hits for Motown Records, a young Marvin Gaye played drums at Motown for The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Marvelettes and more.
2. In 1961, he was paid $5 a week to play drums for The Miracles and blues artist Jimmy Reed.
3. Gaye’s hit I Heard it Through the Grapevine sold over 4 million copies and was his first #1 record.
4. During the 70s, Gaye sought out a position on a professional football team, the Detroit Lions, but when it came to try-outs, it was decided that Gaye could not be allowed to play due to worries that an injury could affect his music career.
5. In 1971, Gaye signed a new deal with Motown worth $1 million, making it the most lucrative deal by a black recording artist at the time.
6. In the late 1960s, Gaye changed his vocal style, after being advised to sing higher, using a sharper, raspy voice. He developed what he called his ‘tough man voice’.
7. Gaye was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.
8. Gaye recorded his most successful album, What’s Going On, in 10 days. What’s Going On reached number one in the R&B charts.
9. Marvin Gaye was the first artist to personalise a performance of the national anthem at a sporting event. He did so at the 1983 All-Star game and though it was controversial at the time, many stars caught onto this idea and still do today.
10. Following his death in 1984, the 2nd of April was declared ‘Marvin Gaye Day’ by D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.
Buy your tickets for Motown the Musical at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre.