The iconic singer-songwriter was murdered by his father on April 1, 1984, one day before his April 2 birthday. Every year, many music lovers find themselves recognizing the birthday of one of music’s greatest talents while also recognizing one of music’s most tragic losses — almost simultaneously.
That sad irony aside, it’s important to always remember just why Marvin Gaye remains so beloved. From his beginnings as an early ’60s R&B crooner in the Sam Cookie mold, to his chart-topping pop duets with Tammi Terrell, to his reinvention in the 1970s as a socially aware singer-songwriter and master of the quiet storm — Marvin’s musical legacy is far-reaching and encompasses a myriad of stylistic shifts. Classic albums like What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On helped Motown move away from its earlier singles-oriented approach and re-affirmed the album as a tool of artistic expression. Gaye’s music also provided a touchstone for numerous artists who came later, such as, D’Angelo, R. Kelly and Maxwell.
While songs like “What’s Going On,” “Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Sexual Healing” are all undeniable classics, it should be acknowledged that Marvin’s genius stretched far beyond the ubiquitous hits constantly played on ’60s and old school R&B radio.
Here are the Motown legend’s 10 most underrated songs …