Marvin Gaye


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The Prince of Motown & Soul!

Marvin Gaye was a drummer, singer, songwriter, and record producer who had a huge part in shaping the sound of Motown in the 60s and 70s.

Born in Washington D.C., Marvin grew up with a deeply religious father who would beat him into shape and throw him out of the house on a regular basis. Between the abuse, Marvin managed to find some relief through singing in church.

To get away from his dominant father, in 1956 – only 17 years old, Marvin briefly joined the army, only to fake mental illness and instead hooked up with the vocal group The Marquees. Together they recorded a single, but when it didn’t chart, the act was dropped.

The Marquees relocated to Chicago and found work as session singers until 1960 when the group gave up.

Keen to move on again, Marvin moved to Detroit to play drums(!) instead. As well as recording in the studio, he also played gigs. One day he found himself appearing at Motown president Berry Gordy’s house party, who signed him to his label as a drummer and singer.

After playing drums behind many of Motown’s acts, Marvin eventually released his first album as a lead singer in 1961 called The Soulful Moods Of Marvin Gaye.

Two well-known covers featured on this album in My Funny Valentine and How High The Moon. Neither was released as a single.

His first successful song that lasted and made an impact in popular culture came in 1963 in Can I Get A Witness, released as a single from his first Greatest Hits album, which is ironic as Marvin at this point hadn’t really had any hits, especially if you consider what was about to come!

The following year, How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You drops as the lead single from the album of the same name. James Taylor later cover this in 1975 with great success.

1965 and Marvin has a duet with Kim Weston in It Takes Two, a classic Motown tune on many working band’s repertoires since, and so is his next duet, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1967), this time with Tammi Terrell.

As the duets are clearly working out, in 1968 he release both Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing and You’re All I Need To Get By, again with Tammi. The same year, his signature song comes out, I Heard It Through The Grapevine and by now, Marvin Gaye is a worldwide superstar.

The 70s sees a more mature Marvin with politically more poignant tunes, he is now also the driving force when it comes to writing the tunes, up until this point, most had been done by songwriting teams like Holland-Dozier-Holland and Ashford & Simpson.

His album What’s Going On is a genuine masterpiece where we find the title track, as well as Mercy Mercy Me. Marvin’s next big hit comes, again as a title track, from the 1973 album Let’s Get It On.

As the years roll by, Marvin keeps releasing albums and singles, 1977 saw Got To Give It Up, a tune that mainly became famous because Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams used it as “inspiration” for their 2013 smash hit Blurred Lines and ended up having to pay Marvin’s family millions for doing so.

Before he tragically dies from being shot by his own father in 1984, we get one more legendary Marvin Gaye tune in 1982 with Sexual Healing. Ben Harper covered it a few decades later which helped his career tremendously.

Speaking of Marvin Gaye covers, Seal, Michael McDonald, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Luther Vandross, Phil Collins, Michael Buble, John Legend, Donny Hathaway, Grover Washington, Diana Ross, and U2 have all done it.

More importantly, most working bands that play weddings and events every week will have at least a few Marvin Gaye tunes on their repertoire so if you want to be a working guitarist, you should learn all his hits!

If you want to become a better songwriter, you should study Marvin Gaye’s tunes morning, day, and night.


Marvin Gaye | Related pages


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Bm7/A | G#m7b5 | Gmaj7 | Em9 |
Ain’t no mountain high, ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough, baby.
Bm7/A | G#m7b5 | Gmaj7 | Em9 |
If you need me, call me, no matter where you are, no matter how far, don’t worry, baby.

Go to Ain’t No Mountain High Enough chords.


Can I Get A Witness

Eb Ab | Db Ab | Eb Ab | Db Ab |
Ah listen, everybody, especially you girls,
Eb Ab | Db Ab | Eb Ab | Db Ab |
is it right to be left alone by the one you love is never home?

Go to Can I Get A Witness chords.


How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)

F | Dm7 G7 | C C6 | (C7) |
How sweet it is to be loved by you, yes baby, oh, oh, oh, oh.
F | Dm7 G7 | C C6 | C Dm7 |
How sweet it is to be loved by you. Oh, baby.

Go to How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) chords.


I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Ebm | Ebm | Bb Ab | Ab6 Ab |
I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew, ’bout your plans to make me blue.
Ebm | Ebm | Bb Ab | Ab7 |
With some other guy, you knew before, between the two of us guys you know I loved you more.

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine chords.


It Takes Two

Eb | Eb E | F | F N.C |
It takes two, baby, it takes two, baby.
Bb Bb | Bb | Bb7 |
Me and you, it just takes two.

Go to It Takes Two chords.


Let’s Get It On

Eb Eb/G | Eb/Ab Abmaj7 Bb9 | Eb Gm7 | Abmaj7 Eb/Ab Bb11 |
I’ve been really tryin’, baby. Tryin’ to hold back this feeling for so long.
Eb Eb/G | Eb/Ab Abmaj7 Bb9 | Eb Gm7 | Abmaj7 Eb/Ab Bb11 |
And if you feel like I feel, baby. Then, c’mon, oh, c’mon, whoa.

Go to Let’s Get It On chords.


What’s Going On

Emaj9 | Emaj9 | C#m7 | C#m7 |
Mother, mother. There’s too many of you crying.
Emaj9 | Emaj9 | C#m7 | C#m7 |
Brother, brother, brother. There’s far too many of you dying.

Go to What’s Going On chords.


You’re All I Need To Get By

A | B/A |
(You’re all I need to get by) Like sweet morning dew, I took one look at you,
Dm6/A | A |
and it was plain to see, you were my destiny.

Go to You’re All I Need To Get By chords.


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