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Rock Hall Anniversary: Death of Marvin Gaye

It happened on April Fools Day. But the situation was serious, and one of the most shocking in music history.

It was on this day in 1984, that the world lost Marvin Gaye, when he was shot and killed by his father Marvin Sr. The next day, he would have been 45 years old. The tragedy followed a monumental comeback in 1982, when Gaye released the album Midnight Love. The album was an international hit, won him two Grammys, and it was followed by a concert tour, as well as notable appearances including a soulful performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the NBA All-Star Game.

But unfortunately, this was also a turbulent period. After his final tour concluded, he retreated to his parent’s house in Los Angeles (which he bought for them in the mid-1970s). At this point, he was suffering from paranoia, and an addiction to cocaine, and he was at odds with his father. And on April 1st, 1984, it finally came to a head.
Gaye and his father gets into a shouting match, which also turned violent. Moments after Gaye’s mother Alberta separated the two men, he was shot twice by Marvin Sr., from a .38 pistol (which Gaye had given to his father as a Christmas present). He was pronounced dead at 1:01 pm. Gay Sr. pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to a six-year suspended sentence and five years probation. Alberta Gay filed for divorce soon after, after 49 years of marriage.

Gaye’s funeral was held on April 5th, and he was cremated soon after. His untimely remains one of the top twenty shocking moments in rock and roll history. But his legacy has always outshined the tragedy. Along with the classic music, Gaye have received numerous honors, including tribute songs from artists like Diana Ross, The Commodores, and Todd Rundgren, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990, and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

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