Marvin Gaye's influence on R&B, and music in general, can not be disputed. The Prince of Soul single-handedly helped shape Motown's sound and influenced R&B subgenres like neo-soul.
Born in Washington D.C. in 1939, Marvin Gaye did not have a pleasant childhood. He was repeatedly beaten by his father, Marvin Gay, Sr., a church minister who eventually killed Marvin Gaye at his home when he was just 44.
Before his untimely death, Marvin Gaye created an incredible collection of work that continues to inspire, influence, and change the world today.
From classic grooves like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "Let's Get It On" to political statements like "What's Going On" and "Inner City Blues (Makes Me Want to Holler)" there is isn't an artist out there more passionate and revolutionary than Marvin Gaye.
Our Marvin Gaye Recommends
"Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology Song)" is from the What's Going On album and is a poignant song about the state of the environment. He was well before his time on environmental issues, and this song is a must-have Marvin Gaye jam.
"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" was originally recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and then Gladys Knight & the Pips, but it wasn't until Marvin Gaye's version on the In the Groove album that the song became the classic hit it was destined to be.
Let's Get It On, from the album of the same title, is a classic hit that combines doo-wop and smooth soul to make one sexy sound. The song has been used in countless movies and commercials since its release in 1973. "Let's Get It On" is a must-have for any music lover.
From the What's Going On album, Inner City Blues is a poignant look at the bleak economic situation in the ghettos of inner-city America. The song's mellow funk and has a great beat and blunt lyrics.
A little trivia: the final minute of the original song recorded for the album is a reprise to "What's Going On" but that minute, as well as other sections of the song, were edited out of the single release so that the song would run under three minutes.
From the album United, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is a classic jam written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson and originally recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It's considered one of the most important records Motown ever released.
Diana Ross recorded the song as her first solo hit and it garnered her a Grammy nomination, but there is something special about the original song, something about the blend of Gaye and Terrell's voices that makes "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" a must-have for any music lover.
From the soundtrack album of the same title, "Trouble Man" has a blues feel and sounds different than his work on "What's Going On." The song shows the depth of Marvin Gaye's range, and although the album is his only soundtrack and film score, it has inspired artists like James Brown, Barry White, Willie Hutch, and Edwin Starr to produce soundtrack albums of their own. Dig it.
Released as a single in 1979, "Ego Tripping Out" is funky fun. You have to appreciate the freestyle jam at the end. Give it a listen and this song will have you walking to a different beat and feeling good about yourself.