Marvin Gaye's father and killer is dead

Mark Rowe
Sunday 25 October 1998 00:02
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THE FATHER of Marvin Gaye has died, 14 years after he shot dead the legendary soul star during an argument. Marvin Gay (as his name was spelled) died in hospital last Sunday after developing pneumonia at his retirement home in Long Beach, California.

Marvin snr, who was 84, shot dead his son at their Los Angeles home in April 1984, the day before Marvin Gaye's 45th birthday.

According to Steve Turner, Gaye's biographer, the Motown star had a long- running feud with his father, a former Pentecostal preacher, who opposed his interest in music. "Marvin's relationship with his father made him who he was. His need to be successful, find love and then take drugs were all down to it. No matter what he achieved with his songs, all he got was resentment and criticism," Mr Turner said. Gaye added the "e" to his surname after "Gay" prompted jibes about his sexuality, a sensitive subject given his father's proclivity for cross-dressing.

The book details the singer's birth in Washington and his pivotal role in the Motown record label of the 1960s and 1970s. It also covers the bizarre sojourn in Belgium in the early 1980s when Gaye chose to lay his hat in the port of Ostend, ridding himself of drugs and writing the hit "Sexual Healing".

He then returned to Los Angeles, lapsing into the earlier habits which were to lead to his premature death. "Marvin was made totally paranoid by drugs at the end. He had people testing his food and water, and bodyguards with sub-machine guns in adjacent hotel rooms," Mr Turner said.

"His life was in a terrible state. He'd lost the women who were important to him. All the evidence I've found is that Marvin provoked the incident because he knew what the result would be." Marvin snr was convicted of voluntary man-slaughter and given a six-year suspended prison sentence. Mr Turner said Gaye helped make black music political and was one of the top five black performers of all time.

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