Marvin Gaye What's Going On

Marvin Gaye born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr in 1939 was a singer, songwriter and musician. Marvin began his professional career as a member of the Rainbows, a doo wop group from Washington whom made a single for Wyatt Earp that brought the attention of Harvey Fugua who recruited the group to become the Moon glows in the 1950’s Once disbanded in 1960 Marvin tackled a solo career in the music industry. Marvin won the interest of Berry Gordy, Jr., who signed him to Motown in 1961and soon after he became one of the most gifted talents in Motown, ranked as the label's top selling solo artist during the1960s Marvin Paved the way for the evolution of pop black music.

Renaldo Obie Benson from the Four Tops had never been a high-volume songwriter but while on a tour stop in San Francisco seeing a violent riot between protesters and police over a lot called Peoples Park. The scene Benson described he seen police beating people but they weren’t bothering anyone, so he wondered to his self why is there war where we harm our own people, why do we fight and hurt each other instead of love, soon after he began working on a track addressing his concerns with the help of Al Cleveland. Benson other band mates weren’t interested in the song calling it a protest song. Benson quickly said no it's a love song, about love and understanding. I'm not protesting, I want to know what's going on.

Marvin,stated by Benson is the perfect person for this song; He already was a rebel and real spiritual person. Benson advised Marvin to put the finishing touches on the track, after doing so Benson said when he heard the track he could seethe people and feel the hurt and pain. Still thinking of the song left by Benson, Marvin thought of his own project and how he would broaden his vision.

Marvin brother Frankie served his term in the Vietnam War, upon coming home, him and Marvin talked about the events of war. Frankie talked of how all his memories were stricken by blood which terrified Marvin but he couldn’t shake the fact that children were eating out of garbage. Marvin did find a way to channel his sorrow for his partner who died of a brain tumor, the empathy of his brother life in war and his own frustration of social and spiritual tragedy’s going on outside of Motown. It took multiple mixes to get it down, but Marvin was excited. He succeeded in producing something that was unlike anything else brought out by the Motown.

When Berry Gordy founder of Motown heard What’s Going On he refused to release it calling it the worst thing he had ever heard in his life. Marvin started a protest of his own by telling Gordy and his team if they don’t come to their senses and release What’s Going On that he would no longer record with Motown.Marvin wife and Gordy’s Sister Anna Gordy Gaye even took sides against Marvin,asking him to get with the game plan and do what is best for Motown. Once Anna heard What's Going On she was back in her husband's corner. Marvin stayed firm with his decision even though he had an empty bank account.

Marvin decided Until Motown came around and released What’s Going On that he would become a professional football player for the Detroit Lions. The Lions management team refused to let Marvin play in fear that they would injure an icon. Of all the refusals in Marvin life as of late he had one ally in his protest for the release of What’s Going On, Harry Balk a industry veteran and overseer of Motown’s creative department. A demo of What’s Going On was sent to Harry by a mistake and after hearing it he loved it, but to no Vail Gordy still would not hear of it. A few months later What’s Going On was released without Gordy’s knowledge. Barney Ales executive vice president admits that they needed a Marvin Gaye project badly, because that’s the only Marvin project he had that’s the one they were forced to release. Although Berry Gordy was furious about the release, they already had orders for 100,000 copies. And that was only the first day.

Marvin Gaye’s journey during his transition to become a mature artist and release the story that we all needed to hear is a inspiration to any artist. Telling them just cause it is different doesn’t make it any less profitable as long as it has substance, so never give up on your creative works. As an industry professional I admire Marvin story and the What’s Going On album.


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