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Gaye, Marvin (Pentz, Jr.)(1939–84) singer, composer; born in Washington, D.C. Composer of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and other soul classics, he sang gospel music in his father's church before joining a doo-wop group, the Rainbows, when he was 15. In 1957, he recorded with the Marquees in Washington, and in 1959 with the Moonglows in Chicago. After moving to Detroit in 1960, he began working as a drummer and back-up vocalist at Motown Records. The following year, he married Motown president Berry Gordy's sister, Anna Gordy, and recorded an album of ballads. In 1962, he scored his first chart success with "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," and for the next seven years he released a continual series of hit records and made regular concert tours in the U.S.A. and abroad. In 1971, the album What's Going On marked a breakthrough for Gaye as a socially-conscious songwriter. He found success with this new style for the next ten years, a period in which he was also beset by financial, mental, and drug problems, which culminated in his shooting death by his father.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.