Marvin Gaye was born Marvin Pentz Gay in 1939 in Washington D.C. His father was a minister in the House of God, a strict, conservative Christian sect. Like many of the successful singers of his generation, he started singing in church at a very early age. He later joined a local vocal group called the Rainbows and came to the attention of first Bo Diddley and then Harvey Fuqua, who recruited Gaye to his backing group the Moonglows. A performance in Detroit brought him to the attention of Berry Gordy Jr. who, with his eye for talent, was impressed enough to sign Gaye to his emerging Motown label in 1961. He soon met and married Anna Gordy, Berry’s sister.
Marvin Gaye started out at Motown as an in-house session musician, playing drums and piano on such tracks as “Stubborn Kind of Fellow,” “Hitch Hike” and “Pride and Joy”. All three tracks were co-written by Gaye and released from his second solo album on the Tamla label. All three songs charted between 1962 and 1963 and were in the top twenty of the Billboard Hot R&B Sides Singles Chart. As an emerging songwriter he actually co-wrote six songs from his second solo album (“Stubborn Kind of Fellow”). He had additional success with another song from the album entitled “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)”. Marvin Gaye wrote the track with Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield and first recorded it in 1962. It was to be the B-side to his 1969 hit “Too Busy Thinking ‘Bout My Baby”. Nearly two decades later, Paul Young performed a version of the same song. It was a number one single on the UK Official Pop Singles Chart for three weeks, starting on the 23rd July 1983. The single received gold certification for Paul Young on 1st September 1983 from the BPI and sold in excess of 400,000 copies within the UK that year. The song was so popular that it helped the parent album “No Parlez” to ship over 900,000 copies and obtain triple-platinum status in the UK in 1983.
After Marvin Gaye’s early collaboration with Smokey Robinson, he recorded another Motown classic entitled “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)”. This is a 1964 song written and produced by the Motown songwriting team of Holland, Dozier and Holland. The track was one of Gaye’s most successful singles with record sales exceeding 800,000 copies in North America.
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