On April 1, 1984, 27 years ago today, Marvin Gaye was tragically murdered by his father on the eve of the musician's 45th birthday. Tomorrow (April 2), the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter would have turned 72.
The "Prince of Motown," broke down musical and cultural barriers with songs about love and pain. A Washington, D.C., native, Gaye came to embody a sort of effortless cool that captured the culture at large. Gaye was responsible for some of his era's best-loved soul songs, including "Heard It Through the Grapevine," "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)," "What's Goin' On" and "Sexual Healing." He left an imprint on the culture that remains visible to this day.
Marvin's passion for singing came from a belief in the divinity of music, a notion that shone through in the warm magnetism of his voice.
In a 1984 Washington Post obituary for the singer, Gaye was quoted as saying, "I think music is God. It's one of the closest link-ups with God we can possibly experience. I think it's a common vibrating tone of musical notes that holds all life together."
Since his passing, Gaye's music has inspired this generation's top artists. His songs have been covered by musicians from Amy Winehouse and The Strokes to Ne-Yo and Erykah Badu.
Today, soul crooner Raheem DeVaughn paid homage to the music great via Twitter, encouraging fans to “have a 48-hour Marvin Gaye marathon.”
In hip hop, Marvin Gaye samples have been used by influential artists like Jay-Z (“American Dreamin’”) and Mos Def (“Modern Marvel”). In 2004, Mos recorded a nine-minute tribute to Gaye that served as the centerpiece for his album, The New Danger.
This past February, Gaye was among those honored by President Barack Obama and a cast of today's most popular artists at a special concert celebrating the legacy of Motown.
(Photo: Detroit Free Press/MCT/Landov)