In October of 1967, singer Tammi Terrell collapsed on stage into the arms of her singing partner Marvin Gaye. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and would die from the disease in 1970.
They left us with some wonderful duets, including the 1967 hit, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
In 1968, a member of the Four Tops, Obie Benson, was in San Francisco and watched what was happening in the Haight and also what was going on with the protests against the war in Vietnam. Benson started writing what would turn out to be the beginning of the song, “What’s Going On?” He brought the song to Marvin Gaye.
Marvin was devastated by Terrell’s illness and wanted to change the songs he was singing. His boss, Barry Gordy of Motown Records, was not thrilled. When Marvin told Gordy he wanted to sing protest songs, Gordy reportedly asked him, “Why do you want to ruin your career?”
Marvin would not take “no” as an answer. Here he is singing one of his signature songs:
Here is another familiar protest song from Marvin from 1971:
Marvin Gaye died on April 1, 1984. His father shot him while he was in his bedroom of his parents’ home. His father was convicted of his son’s murder and received a suspended six-year sentence and probation. Gaye Senior died in a nursing home in 1998.
May they all rest in peace,