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What We Know About The Death of Marvin Gaye

how did marvin gaye die marvin gaye sitting on the grass with his knees pulled up to his chest
Image of Marvin Gaye in 1966 by J. Edward Bailey. Image is in the Public Domain.

Last updated on July 11th, 2023 at 03:04 am

Marvin Gaye was perhaps the greatest soul singer. He created music that preached messages of love and peace. This American singer’s work achieved worldwide fame. Known for songs like “Sexual Healing” and “What’s Going on,” Gaye released 25 studio albums and sold over 12 million records.

His untimely death at age 44 shocked the world, leaving people with questions like “How did Marvin Gaye die?” People also ask, “Was he murdered?”

marvin gaye record albums spread across the floor
Image from Shutterstock.

Brief Overview

On April 1st, 1984, Marvin Gaye was found dead in his Los Angeles home. His father, Marvin Gay Sr., shot him twice in the chest at point-blank range, killing him instantly.

Marvin and his dad had a turbulent relationship. His dad was fighting with Gaye’s mom when Marvin got involved. The argument escalated until it ended in the unfortunate death of Marvin Gaye. 

Marvin Gaye’s Relationship with His Father

Marvin Gaye was born in Washington, D.C., in 1939. He had three siblings, including a sister, Zeola. Since his childhood, Marvin Gaye and his dad, Marvin Gay Sr., had a strained relationship. 

Marvin Sr. was an intense taskmaster who often chastised his youngsters as a Christian minister. He was also a cross-dresser, which led to young Marvin being tormented in the neighborhood. 

When Marvin Gaye got famous, he added an “e” to his last name because of this, as well as to combat claims about his own homosexuality.

Gaye’s dad also never approved of his son’s music.

Though their relationship improved when Gaye’s record ‘What’s Going On’ turned into a hit, neither he nor Marvin at any point accomplished genuine harmony.

marvin gaye with his hand on his beard
Publicity photo of Marvin Gaye in 1973, during recording sessions for the album Let’s Get It On at the “Hitsville West” Studio in Los Angeles. Photo was taken by Jim Britt. Image was published without a copyright and is in the Public Domain.

Gaye’s 1983 Resurgence and the Fallout

Gaye reappeared in the public spotlight in 1983 with the massive hit “Sexual Healing” and a new album, Midnight Love

He also briefly kicked his drug habit during a long-term visit to Belgium.

Gaye, who loathed touring, eventually backslid to cocaine use during the tour for Midnight Love. He believed he was in danger, thinking someone would try and murder him. 

Halfway through the tour, he began wearing a bulletproof vest until he went on stage.

Gaye returned to the United States in August 1983 to focus on his mom, who was recuperating from a kidney medical procedure. She had been moved into a home at 2101 South Gramercy Place, which he had bought for them in 1973. 

Gaye’s father was not there during his visit. His dad got back to Washington in October of that year after being away for work. 

Prior to Marvin Sr. returning back to the home, Gaye’s sisters Jeanne and Zeola lived there. However, they moved out not long after because of the intense struggle between their father and Marvin Gaye.

During one of their fights at home, Gaye’s father called the police. Marvin eventually moved out.

Marvin got his dad the Special pistol for Christmas in 1983 with the goal that he could protect himself against intruders. 

Gaye attempted suicide four days before his demise, said his sister, Jeanne, by jumping out of a speeding sports car. He experienced just minor injuries.

Marvin Gaye’s Death: Who Killed Marvin Gaye?

Marvin Gaye’s parents fought in the days leading up to his death about a lost insurance policy letter. Gaye was maddened by his dad’s hollering at his mom and asked him to leave her alone.

He then reportedly pushed his dad out of the room and kicked and punched him. Alberta to Ritz says that Marvin struck him. She yelled for him to stop, but he ignored her.

Marvin Sr. went to his room and returned with the handgun that Gaye had bought. He aimed at his son and shot him in the heart.

Alberta was around eight feet from the interaction when her husband shot their son. She shouted and ran out of the room, scared that she would be shot as well, begging Marvin Sr. not to kill her. As indicated by sources, Gaye’s dad then hid the pistol underneath a cushion.

Gaye’s sibling Frankie and sister, who lived in a visitor house on the property, heard the shots. Frankie said he thought the shots sounded like a vehicle had blown up. They hustled outside in the wake of hearing shouting and saw Alberta, who fell into Irene’s arms exclaiming that he had killed her child.

Twenty minutes after the episode, the police came. Gaye’s body was taken out and driven to the hospital.

Gaye was pronounced dead when he arrived at the Hospital Medical Center in California.

Marvin Gaye was cremated and his remains were released into the Pacific Ocean.

marvin gaye on a postage stamp
Image from Shutterstock.

What Happened To His Father?

On September 20th, 1984, Gaye’s father argued no challenge to a charge of willful crime. Judge Gordon Ringer condemned him to a six-year sentence and five years of probation.

Gaye’s father said he was sorry for all that happened and admitted he wanted his son back badly. He was admitted to a nursing home during his sentencing due to health difficulties. It was on October 10th, 1998, that he died of pneumonia.

Marvin Gaye’s Music

Although he left too early, Marvin Gaye’s songs have made him immortal in the hearts of his fans

Marvin Gaye’s music encompassed a wide range of styles, including joyous duets, beautiful ballads, and catchy choruses.

Some of his most popular songs are “How Sweet It Is,” “It Takes Two,” “Abraham, Martin, and John,” “You’re All I Need to Get By,” and “No Mountain High Enough.”

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014


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