Marvin Gay, Sr.
The Reverend Marvin Pentz Gay, Sr. (October 1, 1914 – October 10, 1998) was an American fundamentalist minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and later a spin-off sect called the House of God. He is better known as the father and killer of R&B legend Marvin Gaye.
- 1 Biography
- 2 References
Born on a farm along Catnip Hill Pike in Jessamine County, Kentucky, Gay lived a difficult childhood as a loner, he eventually entered ministry in his late teens joining a Seventh-day Adventist Church as a pastor in a church in Washington, D.C. where he and wife Alberta Cooper, from North Carolina, raised their family of four children: daughters Jeanne (b. 1937) and Zeola (b. 1944) and sons Marvin, Jr. (1939-1984) and Frankie (1941-2001). After leaving his church, he formed a spin-off sect called the House of God and spent most of his time as a storefront preacher taking his sermons to different churches where he often took his eldest son to sing gospel songs.
Difficult relationship with eldest son
However, by Marvin, Jr.'s teenage years, he and his father, who would have a contentious relationship through Marvin's life, fought repeatedly over Marvin's rebellious behavior. Marvin, Sr. was said to have later been known as a strict father often beating his children when they misbehaved. According to Marvin years later, Marvin, Sr. led a double life as a crossdresser where he often wore his mother's clothes and put on a wig. This fact led to tension with Marvin in school where he was teased for his father's actions and because of his own soft-spoken voice and demeanor was often accused of homosexuality. Embarrassed by his father, at seventeen, he left home and school to join the United States Air Force.
Within a year, however, Marvin's rebellion caused him to be discharged and he returned to Washington determined not to wither under his father's ruling. Shortly after signing a record deal with Motown Records, he changed his surname from Gay to Gaye, the 'e' being a symbol of escaping his father's shadow, gossip about his sexuality and to also emulate one of his singing idols, singer Sam Cooke. Gay and his son's relationship never healed as Marvin's solo star rose. At one time, one of Marvin's label mates said that he had laid a $1 million check on his father's bed and asked him what he thought of all he accomplished. Gay, Sr. was to have said, "I still say 'what does it take for a man to gain the whole world and then lose his soul'" showcasing his dislike for Marvin's choice to be a pop star rather than a minister and/or gospel singer like him.
Despite the often stormy and troubling relationship between father and son, Marvin Jr. often dedicated some of his famous works to his father, including "God is Love" from his What's Going On album, "Everybody Needs Love" from Here, My Dear, where he states that his father, like him, "needed love", and "Joy", which he dedicated on his father bringing him up in church, Marvin often mentioned how he was influenced by his father's sermons during his concert tours. At one point, Marvin even had his father on with him during a The Midnight Special show where Marvin allowed his father to give him advice. Marvin, Jr. then embraced his father in a rare moment that proved to be prophetic as Marvin got older.
Later years and his son's death
By the 1970s, Gay Sr. had proven to be too difficult to continue his ministry. A longtime alcoholic, he continued to live allegedly in his double life. At this point, Gay, Sr. and his wife Alberta's relationship had gotten worse. After moving his parents to a mansion he bought for them at Crenshaw, Los Angeles, California in 1972, Gay Sr. would often leave Los Angeles for D.C. and the Gays were said to be separated by the time Marvin headed to his mother's aid following the end of his financially successful U.S. tour in 1983. However, Marvin, Jr. had gotten ill due to his drug addiction and much like his father, struggled with substance abuse while still reading from the Bible. Marvin Sr. returned to Los Angeles in October of 1983 and Marvin Sr. and Marvin Jr.'s often difficult relationship continued to deteriorate. On Christmas Day, 1983, Marvin Jr. gave his father a handgun to help protect him from an alleged plot on his life. On the night of March 31, 1984, Marvin, Sr. started an argument with Alberta over misplaced business documents, insulting her during a drunken tirade, Marvin Jr. awoke to their argument and attacked his father only verbally. The following morning, April 1, an ill Marvin Jr. and his father again started a heated argument that led to a physical confrontation between the two of them in which Marvin shoved his father to the ground. Marvin's father was to have said, "I'm not gonna stand for this embarrassment" and got the gun Marvin Jr. had given to him and went into his room shooting his son twice (in the shoulder and chest) killing him instantly on the day before Marvin was to have turned forty-five.
Aftermath and death
After Marvin Jr.'s death, Alberta filed for divorce after 47 years of marriage. Marvin, Sr.'s other three children were estranged from their father, as well as Marvin's own children. Marvin Sr. also was noticeably absent from Marvin, Jr.'s star-studded funeral. During his time in jail, when asked if he hated his son, Marvin Sr. said, "well, let's just say that I didn't dislike him." Originally charged with first-degree murder, the charges were dropped when doctors examined Marvin Sr. and discovered that the then 69-year-old suffered a brain tumor. He agreed to serve five years probation for the crime, after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter. During sentencing, Marvin Sr. tearfully stated to the court that he didn't wish to kill his son and that he could take it all back. Later sent to a rest home for the remainder of his life, he died of pneumonia in Culver City, California on October 10, 1998 just nine days after turning 84.
Referencesv • d • eMarvin GayeStudio albums The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye(1961) · That Stubborn Kinda Fellow(1962) · When I'm Alone I Cry(1964) · Hello Broadway(1964) · How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You(1965) · A Tribute to the Great Nat "King" Cole(1965) · Moods of Marvin Gaye(1966) · In the Groove/I Heard It Through the Grapevine(1968) · M.P.G.(1969) · That's the Way Love Is(1970) · What's Going On(1971) · Let's Get It On(1973) · I Want You(1976) · Here, My Dear(1978) · In Our Lifetime(1981) · Midnight Love(1982) Duet albums Together(1964) · Take Two(1966) · United(1967) · You're All I Need(1968) · Easy(1969) · Diana & Marvin(1973) Live albums Marvin Gaye Recorded Live on Stage(1963) · Marvin Gaye Live!(1974) · Live at the London Palladium(1977) · Marvin Gaye at the Copa(2005) Soundtrack albums Trouble Man(1972) Posthumous albums Dream of a Lifetime(1985) · Romantically Yours(1986) · Vulnerable(1997) Singles
(US/UK Top Ten singles) "Pride and Joy" · "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" · "I'll Be Doggone" · "Ain't That Peculiar" · "Your Precious Love" · "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You" · "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" · "You're All I Need to Get By" · "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" · "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" · "Abraham, Martin & John" · "The Onion Song" · "That's the Way Love Is" · "What's Going On" · "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" · "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" · "Trouble Man" · "Let's Get It On" · "You Are Everything" · "Got to Give It Up" · "Sexual Healing" Related topics Discography · Songs · Albums · Songs by Marvin Gaye · Albums produced by Marvin Gaye · Marvin Gaye vocalists · Marvin Gay, Sr. · Anna Gordy Gaye · Frankie Gaye · Janis Hunter Gaye · Nona Gaye · The Moonglows · Tammi Terrell · Marvin's Room