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.
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