Thursday, April 2, 2009

Remembering Marvin Gaye


I still remember that day... it was a Sunday... on this day, 25 years ago. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the shocking news. I had just come back from New York City, where I had spent the weekend with my boy, E.J. We bought a couple of suits, hit a couple of clubs, told some New York girls some lies and tall tales about our lives in Philly, and just had a grand ol' time in the Big Apple.

On that Sunday, I was back and sitting in the Burger King on 8th & Market Streets, enjoying a double whopper with cheese, french fries from the McDonald's next door (I always hated Burger King's fries), and a strawberry milk shake. (Before anybody says anything, I was 25 years old and weighed about 125-130 lbs. soaking wet on a 6' 1+1/4" frame so, I could eat like that back then.) I was wearing one of the suits I purchased in New York.

One of my friends walked into the restaurant and said, "Why Keith, you're all gussied up and smellin' sweeter than a french whore." I smirked and replied, "Like you'd know about a french whore or any woman for that matter." Then, he said... "Man, did you hear the news? Marvin Gaye got shot and killed this morning by his father!" I looked at him in shock, pointed at the calendar, and said... "That's some sick April Fool's joke man and that ain't funny."

Then, I overheard some other people in the lobby talking about it... "Man, Marvin Gaye is dead!" "Whaaat?" "Yeah man, he and his Pop got to fightin' and his Pop shot him dead." "Lawddd, have mercy." (In every crowd of black people, there is always someone who will say... "Lawddd, have mercy." I don't care what happens, who did what, good news or bad news, they say... "Lawddd, have mercy.")

I was stunned. It was as if something in nature had failed... like somebody told me that the sun wasn't ever going to shine again. I just had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I ran outside to get a late edition of the paper and there it was... "Soul Singer Marvin Gaye Shot Dead!" in bold letters. When I got home, I turned on the television and there he was, accepting a Grammy just the year before for "Sexual Healing"... a song that became my mantra in the summer of 1983. I think I sung it or said it to every woman I met with limited success but, that's another story for another blog post.

I fancied myself as somewhat of a singer and if you asked anyone who knew me who my favorite singer was, they would have told you Stevie Wonder. He's the one that everyone from the choir director, to my frat brothers, to the young ladies, used to say that I sounded like the most. The truth is, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke were my idols and the ones who I modeled myself after. Maybe it was because Marvin was an Aries like me. I don't know but, from the time I heard "Ain't That Peculiar" when I was 8 years old, up through "What's Goin' On?", "Let's Get It On", "I Want You", and "Here My Dear", Marvin Gaye was my absolute favorite singer. I even grew a goatee at one time (my mother made me cut it off because she said it made me look too grown) and wore a red skull cap, just like the one he wore on the cover of "Let's Get it On"... just because he did.

I followed Marvin's romantic ups and downs with his wife Anna and his second wife, Janis, and all of the brilliant music that was created throughout. I also loved his duets with Tammi Terrell. I was too young to remember Mary Wells and Kim Weston but, I heard those duets were great too. I rejoiced when he finally won his Grammy for Sexual Healing in 1983. No disrespect to Lou Rawls but, I don't know how the album "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" beat out "What's Goin' On?" for a Grammy in 1971!

I was just devastated hearing the news of his death that day. I almost didn't finish eating my double whopper with cheese. I didn't watch the news that night or the next night either... it was just too painful. All week long, the tributes came in from Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Berry Gordy, Jr., James Brown, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, and all of the greats. I listened in stunned silence... you would have thought that I knew the man personally by the way I acted that week.

Anyway, that's all water under the bridge. Tonight, in honor of what would have been his 70th birthday, I've got "What's Goin' On?" and "Let's Get It On", his two greatest albums in my opinion, playing back to back. I feel like driving to Burger King and recreating that meal but, I've decided not to... I think I'll have a salad instead.

In Loving Memory of Marvin Pentz Gaye, Jr.
April 2, 1939 - April 1, 1984

25 comments:

The Dreamy One said...

Ohhh my goodness I love Marvin Gaye,
me being the old soul that I am listen to his music all the time. My favorite song by him is "I Want You",not a lot of people know about that song but its my favorite
I remember the tribute they did for him on motown 25 with all the dancer!

Ok funny story, a couple of months back I went out for a drink. They played marvin gaye in the club and I was like yeah when I get in the car I'm gonna groove to that!
Well after 4 glasses of wine I was feeling a little frisky, and as I am drving home listening to marvin's sexual healing I started to remove my halter top in the car!
After taking off my top and grooving to marvin I finally came to my senses and realized where the hell I was,lol

Yeah I was feeling it that night, too bad I didn't have a man to go home to to get it on!

Go Marvin!!!!!

Blah Blah Blah said...

Great tribute and memory...
I felt that way about Luther...and then Ossie...and then James Brown...and then Isaac hayes...and then other day watching the Bernie Mac show...
When you see or hear them...especially music...and all the memories that music holds...it is like you DO know them. Their music/voice/words are huge parts of what makes up some of the best times in our lives.

Angel said...

I was too young to remember but I love all his songs. Can you believe that is the 1st time I have found out what happened to him. Shot by his dad? that is amazing.

Thanks for writing - they say you learn a new thing each day

RIP Marvin

A Free Spirit Butterfly said...

Love and miss him. This music today ain't got "nothing" on his! I remember when CDs first came out, I bought my mom the Best of Marvin Gaye, but I opened it and burned a copy first. She was mad. But I'm sure she's over it now (smile)

Have a happy day. Good choice, on the salad (lol)

Sunflower said...

Ilove your unique spin on events be they news or personal.

Toni said...

What a great tribute Keith!

Angie B. said...

I loved Marvin Gaye and your post was both touching and humorous!

Lisa said...

Just came off of your other blog...Don't know how you write two posts a night man..Most people have a tough enough time writing one post for one blog. Great stuff.

Halo said...

I wasn't born until after he died,but I've heard his music...It was great.Nothing like this out here today.

Vanessa said...

Once again you put a touching and funny spin on a major event...you're good like that..I loved this tribute.

Jazzy said...

Loved the man and his music.

James Perkins said...

Marvin was the greatest!

Simon Bastion said...

Marvin's Music is still relevant today as it was in the 60's 70's and 80's.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

Great Tribute man...I loved Marvin Gaye.

Tate2 said...

I was born the year before he died,but I heard my pops playing enough of his music to really appreciate him. Loved this post
Keith.

Swaggie said...

I first heard Marvin Gaye's "Just like music" hook on some rap song..I became curious about him and looked up all of his music..I became hooked and became a fan just like you..shame I was still too young to appreciate him when he was alive. Thanks for this post Keith.

Sean said...

Another Great one Keith

Captain Jack said...

Great tribute...Parts of this post was funny as hell, but that is your genius...you can take the sting off of potentially painful things with your warmth and humor. Thanks again for this post.

Rich Fitzgerald said...

I remember that day as well. I was in the 11th grade and I, like you, felt an immense pain from the loss. It felt like a relative had died.

I remembered watching Marvin's story on the Ebony/Jet Showcase TV show one Saturday morning maybe a month or so before that incident.

That was certainly an unforgettable moment.

The F$%K it List said...

Aww Keith!

I remember that day too, though I was only 9 years old. My mom is the main reason I remember, she was crushed when he died. Like you a HUGE fan she played his albums all day when the news broke.

I am a huge Marvin Gaye fan have all the CDs (and Vinyl courtesy of my mom).

RiPPa said...

I was 13yrs old back then. I never knew just how much of a loss this was until I was older. I could remember my parents being down and out about it. But me? I was into breakdancing around that time.

CareyCarey said...

"Flyin' high in the friendly, never leaving the ground"

"You sure do like to ball"

Boy keith, you done done it this time. You said we had a lot in common ...tick tock, the clock still rocks ...My best album of ALL time is What's Going On. He was the first to start singing over his songs as backup. Did he bring in a new sound or what! If a person had a honey away from home ..."Distant lover" would have them running to the phone ...had me cryin' like a ....

I'll tell you what ..."Here My Dear" wasn't a favorite to many but it has some gems on there! You had to have been somewhere to feel that one. You took me somewhere boy ...you sure did.

Thoughts of a Southern gal said...

I was just a small child when he died. But grew up to enjoying his music.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

i was at morehouse when he died, and we thought it was an april fools joke. posps killed him for attacking his mother cocaine is a powerful drug - richard pryor

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hello there,

I love Marvin Gaye and I really was deeply saddened when I learned of his murder. It was also sad that his father killed him and both men were deeply emotionally unstable at the time.

When I heard the news...I was in ...um...um...kindergarten...*smirk...

Okay...so I was older but you know a woman has to be a little shady about her age when online...

It is sad that Marvin was unable to beat his addiction... he was a prince and we lost him much, much too soon.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa




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