Hard to believe it’s been 30 years: Remembering Marvin Gaye

By: Judson L. Jeffries, PhD

Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Marvin Gaye. On April 1, 1984, one day before his 45th birthday Marvin Gaye met an untimely demise when he was shot by his father reportedly after Gaye had come to his mother’s defense during a squabble between the two parents. At the time of Gaye’s death, his career was experiencing a resurgence of sorts as two years earlier upon leaving Motown Records he released Midnight Love his seventeenth album, which went 3x Platinum in the U.S. and Gold in the United Kingdom. On that album was the Grammy Award-winning single Sexual Healing that announced to the world that Gaye was indeed back, back in a big way. If that wasn’t enough one year later Gaye was chosen to sing the National Anthem at the 1983 NBA ALL-STAR game in Los Angeles. Gaye was no novice at this as he had honored us in this capacity at least twice before, in 1979 in Las Vegas at the Larry Holmes v. Ernie Shavers II heavyweight title fight and in Game Four of the 1968 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals. But 1983 was different. Wearing shades, the 6’4’’Gaye strolled out onto the floor of The Forum decked out in a double breasted suit as the color guard (comprised of four Marines) stood tall in the background while Gaye belted out perhaps the most soulful and pulsating rendition of the National Anthem to date as people shrieked, whistled and hollered with approval. Toward the end, Gaye had the audience, visibly moved by this time, clapping and stomping in lock-step with the beat. In 2008, Coach K at Duke University felt compelled to play it for the 2008 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team for inspiration.

For your viewing pleasure

3 thoughts on “Hard to believe it’s been 30 years: Remembering Marvin Gaye

  1. The best rendition of the National Anthem ever. It gives me goose bumps today, just as it gave me goose bumps my sophomore year when we were all crowded around the TV at the W.E.B. DuBois College House at University of Pennsylvania 30 years ago.

  2. Brother Marvin Gaye’s voice was unique and rare. Like so many great talents, gone too soon, he will be remembered through his music and legacy. What a creative genius, to take a tired old song, like the Star Spangled Banner and give it soul, imagine what he could have done for Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.

    Thank you my Brother for sharing this remembrance of the Late Great Marvin Gaye.

  3. I can’t believe it has been 30 years…30 years…
    I remember exactly where I was when the news broke about Marvin’s death. I was washing dishes, listening to KJLH (Stevie Wonder’s radio
    show)..and they interrupted with the news. I stopped…couldn’t believe
    it. Shock..Sadness. Not Marvin Gaye, I thought…oh no.

    Marvin was such a Soulful Singin’, Cool, Prophetic, Performer. Not only
    that, he ‘wrote his butt off’. So many of his songs ‘Told Us’ …’What’s Goin On’…even then…and about ‘Inner City Blues’….and to ‘Save The Children’…even then…and you know it echoes in our minds today.

    Yes…he ‘tore up’ (old saying for ‘got down’…did it’…) the National Anthem..like no one had before. He ‘Marvinized’ it…That’s what I’m talkin about. We still miss you, Marvin….that’s for sho’……

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