If Elvis is the King of Rock N Roll, and Robert Johnson is the King of the Blues, then Marvin Gaye must be the King of Soul.
The title “If I should die Tonight” is from a track of Marvin Gaye’s 13th studio album “Let’s Get It On” which was released on August 28, 1973. I thought it would be an appropriate title because today marks the 37th anniversary of his death.
When I heard the news on the radio on April 1, 1984 that Marvin Gaye had died and had been killed by his father , I thought it was an April Fools’ day joke. However it quickly emerged that this was not the case.
Marvin Gaye was shot by his Father Marvin Gaye Sr, a Christian preacher. Marvin was shot three times following an altercation with his father after he had intervened in an argument between his parents. The wounds were fatal and he was pronounced dead on arrival at the California Hospital Medical Center.
Despite being successful Marvin struggled badly with the substance abuse and also episodes of depression which had plagued him for most of his life. After his last tour, he moved into his parents’ house. There he and his father regularly had fights and quarrels. Marvin had a bitter relationship with his father, which had been the case since childhood . On April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye Sr. shot and killed his son after a physical altercation; the father claimed he acted in self-defense but would later be convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
In the days prior to his killing , Marvin’s parents had arguments mainly over a misplaced insurance policy letter. The day before his death, the arguments spread to Gaye’s bedroom. Angered by his father confronting his mother, Gaye commanded Marvin Sr. to leave her alone. Marvin Sr did leave without any further arguments or altercation.
However at 12.30 PM on April 1, the arguments between Marvin Sr and his wife had flared up again. Marvin Jr shouted downstairs, telling his father if he had something to say, he should do it in person.
Eight minutes later Marvin Sr went up with a .38 pistol, aimed it at his son and shot him 3 times. The 1st shot had already been fatal.
Marvin Gaye was killed a day before his 45th birthday, actually less then 12 hours before his birthday.
His death had all the hallmarks of a Greek tragedy. VH1 listed Gaye’s death as the eighth most shocking moment in music history. Marvin Gaye was not just a great singer, he had a very distinctive voice which was immediately recognizable , only few singers possess that talent.
There have been many tribute songs about Marvin Gaye. I will only posting 2 of them.
Finishing up with the Great man himself
If I should die tonight
Though it seems far before my time
I won’t die blue
‘Cause I’ve known you