This Day in Black History: April 1, 1984

Marvin Gaye was shot to death by his father one day before his 45th birthday.

Posted: 04/01/2014 12:00 AM EDT
This Day in Black History: April 1, 1984

At the peak of his career, Marvin Gaye was the face of Motown. He had a slew of soulful hits including “What’s Going On,” "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" and "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," which penetrated economic, social and racial barriers. When he was fatally shot by his father, Rev. Marvin Gay Sr., on April 1, 1984, one day before his 45th birthday, the nation would forever mourn one of the most charismatic performers of all time.

One year after winning his first Grammy and resurfacing back to the top of the charts with “Sexual Healing,” Gaye was met with a bout of depression due to debt and cocaine abuse.  He moved back into his parent's Los Angeles home in 1983. Marvin Sr., an ordained minister in the House of God a conservative Christian sect that fuses elements of Orthodox Judaism and Pentecostalism, upheld a strict moral code at home while maintaining an alleged double-life, which included cross-dressing and heavy drinking.

His father’s demons, coupled with Gaye trying to recover from a slump, caused issues in the Gaye household. 

On the morning of April 1, they got into a heated argument that turned violent. As Marvin Jr.’s mother, Alberta, tried to calm him down in his room, his father returned with a revolver and shot the international superstar three times in the chest.

Gaye’s brother, Frankie, who lived next door, held his brother during his last breath. Frankie wrote in his memoir that his brother’s last words were: "I got what I wanted....I couldn't do it myself, so I made him do it."

Follow Dominique Zonyéé on Twitter: @DominiqueZonyee.

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(Photo: Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty Images)

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