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birth place: Washington DC, USA
Born Marvin Pentz Gay, he added the "e" to imitate Sam Cooke.The son of a minister in the House of God, a conservative Christian sect, Gaye began singing in the church choir, later learning to play the piano and drums.
After high school, Gaye joined the Air Force and, after being discharged, joined the Rainbows (later Moonglows), a popular local group in DC. After a concert in Detroit, Gaye was offered a solo contract by Berry Gordy Jr. of Motown Records. Gaye married Gordy's sister, Anna, in 1961.
Gaye released three unsuccessful singles, until 'Pride and Joy' became a smash hit, but he felt discontented with Motown's tight control over his material. By 1965, he had released 39 Top 40 songs for the label.
Gaye hit the charts with his biggest success, 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine', but his marriage was crumbling and he felt irrelevant, singing about love while popular music underwent a political revolution.
As a result, Gaye released 'What's Going On' in 1971, one of the most memorable soul albums of the time, including then-unheard of radical political and social statements. Gordy at first refused to release the album, but eventually gave in. The album produced three Top Ten singles.
1973's 'Let's Get It On' was a sexually and romantically charged album that was very successful in the charts. His marriage ended soon after. After a failed single and a failing new marriage, Gaye moved to Hawaii, and then to Europe in 1981.
In Europe, Gaye signed to Columbia Records and released 'Midnight Love' while battling a cocaine addiction. This album included 'Sexual Healing', one of Gaye's most famous songs.
On 1st April, 1984, one day before his 45th birthday, Gaye was shot and killed by his father after an argument.
Marvin Sr. later was sentenced to six years of probation after pleading guilty to manslaughter. Charges of first-degree murder were dropped after doctors discovered Marvin, Sr. had a brain tumor. Spending his final years in a retirement home, he died of pneumonia in 1998.