Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr.) (April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) was a mutliple Grammy-winning American singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer who gained international fame as an artist on the Motown record label in the 1960s and 1970s.
Beginning his career at Motown in 1961, Gaye quickly became Motown’s top solo male artist and scored numerous hits during the 1960s, among them “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, and several hit duets with Tammi Terrell, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “You’re All I Need to Get By”, before moving on to his own form of musical self-expression. Gaye is notable for fighting the hit-making, but creatively restrictive, Motown record-making process, in which performers and songwriters and record producers were generally kept in separate camps.
Marvin’s career has been described as one that “spanned the entire history of rhythm and blues from fifties doo-wop to eighties contemporary soul”. With his successful 1971 album What’s Going On and subsequent releases including Trouble Man (1972) and Let’s Get It On (1973), Gaye, who was a part-time songwriter for Motown artists during his early years with the label, proved that he could write and/or produce his own albums without having to rely on the Motown system.