Marvin Gaye Biography

The Prince of Motown & Soul


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Marvin Gaye live

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye was a drummer, session singer, singer-songwriter and record producer who had a huge part in shaping the sound of Motown in the 60s and 70s.

Born in Washington D.C, Marvin grew up with a deeply religious father who would beat him in to shape and throw him out of the house on a regular basis. Between the abuse, Marvin managed to find some relief through singing in church.

To get away from his dominant father, in 1956 – only 17 years old, Marvin briefly joined the army, only to fake mental illness and instead joined vocal group The Marquees. They recorded a single, but when the song didn’t chart the act was dropped.

The Marquees relocated to Chicago and found work as session singers until 1960 when the group gave up.

Keen to move on again, Marvin moved to Detroit to play drums(!) instead. As well as recording in the studio, he also played gigs. One day he found himself appearing at Motown president Berry Gordy’s house party, who signed him to his label as a drummer and singer.

After playing drums behind many of the Motown’s acts, Marvin eventually released his first single as a lead singer in 1963.

This would be the beginning of a most impressive string of hits in: ‘Can I Get A Witness’, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, ‘How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)’, ‘It Takes Two’, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, What’s Going On’, ‘Let’s Get It On’ and ‘Sexual Healing’.

These tunes made Marvin Gaye a worldwide superstar for two decades.

On April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye’s life was tragically cut short as he tried to break up an argument between his parents. He was shot dead by his father.

Related Pages

Can I Get A Witness – Guitar Lesson

‘Can I Get A Witness’ is a fast blues format song in the key of Eb.

Over each chord in a blues, you quickly switch between three chords, creating an energetic riff.

In the course, we practice each riff over loops as we learn to play it in every area of the neck.

Finally, you get to play the entire song with a live band!

Preview video lessons: Can I Get A Witness

Can I Get A Witness – Lyrics

Ah listen everybody (everybody), especially you girls (especially you girls)
Is it right to be left alone by the one you love is never home
I love too hard, my friends sometimes say
But I believe, I believe, that a woman should be loved that way
But it hurts me so inside, to see how you treat me so unkind

For complete lyrics, go to Can I Get A Witness lyrics.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Guitar Lesson

‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ is a Motown classic with a very clever chord progression.

All chords are as if from the key of Eb with just one chord being different, the Eb is a minor.

In the course, I’ll talk you through all sections one by one using video lessons, TAB, and live band loops.

Finally, you get to play the entire song with a live band!

Preview video lessons: I Heard It Through The Grapevine

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Lyrics

I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew
‘Bout your plans to make me blue
With some other guy you knew before
Between the two of us guys you know I loved you more
It took me by surprise I must say (took me by surprise I must say)

For complete lyrics, go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine

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