Last November we put you guys on Glenn Michael and James Alexander’s Ensemble: The Style of Music, a limited edition set of prints celebrating the style of 20 iconic male musicians. This week’s FMM moves us one step closer to covering all 20 of these stylish stars by covering none other than the Price of Soul himself, Marvin Gaye.
Before breaking out on his own, this minister’s son sang back up in a doo-wop group, was a session drummer for some of Motown’s biggest acts including the Supremes and Stevie Wonder and co-wrote “Dancing in the Street” for Martha and the Vandellas, amongst other songs. Eventually, after many a power struggle with Berry Gordy over Gaye’s musical direction, Gaye had his first solo hit with Motown with the single “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” in September 1962. As the 60’s rolled on Marvin Gaye established himself as a “smooth song-and-dance ladies man” and scored his first international hit with the duet “It Takes Two” with Kim Weston. He then went on to record several duets with Tammi Terrell including “Ain”t No Mountain High Enough”, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “If This World Were Mine.” In 1967, Terrell was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, ending her career and throwing Gaye into a deep depression, which only worsened with her death in 1970. Following Terrell’s death, Gaye vowed to never to record a duet with another female performer and to never perform again. However, he would soon go back on that promise after recoding the politically charged, 1971 hit “What’s Going On” and subsequently performing it at select concerts including one at the Kennedy Center. Following the song’s success, a full album was created filled with more lengthy singles covering other issues set to funk, jazz, classical and Latin soul arrangements. The album What’s Going On became the new template for soul music with its unifying themes.Through the 70’s Gaye’s success continued with hits like “Let’s Get It On” and “Distant Lover.” By his sudden death in 1984, Marvin Gaye had firmly established himself as one of the most iconic voices in soul music and the father of slow jams with bonafide baby-making hits like “Sexual Healing.”
There is only one word that can describe Marvin Gaye’s style, smooth. From his beginnings as a doo-wop singer with the Moonglows right up until his death, Gaye’s look was as smooth as his music. While his most iconic ensemble may have been the jeans, denim shirt and beanie combo, Marvin Gaye was no one hit wonder when it comes to style. Depending on his musical mood, Gaye rocked almost every trend that was en vogue during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. From dapper three piece numbers to leisure suits, Gaye kept it on trend but true to his own style.
Today, this often covered musician is still influencing popular music and style, and still making the panties drop with his classic slow jams. If you don’t now about the power of “Let’s Get It On”, ask your parents or check it out for yourself.
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