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 sessions of 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 dropped as the lead single from the album of the same name. James Taylor later covered 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 released 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 came out, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, and by now, Marvin Gaye is a worldwide superstar.
Marvin takes charge
The ’70s saw 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.
As the years rolled by, Marvin kept 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 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 tunes | Related pages
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
You can learn how to play Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye using chords, chord analysis, lyrics, and the original recording.
| Bm7/A | G#m7b5 | Gmaj7 | Em9 |
Ain’t no mountain high, ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough, baby…
Can I Get A Witness
You can learn how to play Can I Get A Witness by Marvin Gaye using chords, lyrics, TAB, backing track, and Spytunes video guitar lessons.
| Eb Ab | Db Ab | Eb Ab | Db Ab |
Ah listen, everybody, especially you girls…
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
Learn how to play How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) by Marvin Gaye and James Taylor using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recordings.
| F | Dm7 G7 | C C6 | C (C7) |
How sweet it is to be loved by you, yes baby, oh, oh, oh, oh…
I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Learn how to play I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye using chords, lyrics, TAB, backing track, and video guitar lessons.
| Ebm | Ebm | Bb Ab | Ab6 Ab |
I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew, ’bout your plans to make me blue…
It Takes Two
You can learn how to play It Takes Two by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.
| Eb | Eb E | F | F N.C |
It takes two, baby, it takes two, baby…
Let’s Get It On
You can learn how to play Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.
| 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…
Mercy Mercy Me
You can learn how to play Mercy Mercy Me by Marvin Gaye using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| Emaj7 (Emaj9) | Emaj9 Emaj7 |
Woah, oh, mercy, mercy me…
My Funny Valentine
You can learn how to play My Funny Valentine by Chet Baker using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, the original recording, and cover versions.
| Cm | Cmmaj7 | Cm7 | Cm6 |
My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine…
What’s Going On
You can learn how to play What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.
| Emaj9 | Emaj9 | C#m7 | C#m7 |
Mother, mother. There’s too many of you crying…
You’re All I Need To Get By
You can learn how to play You’re All I Need To Get By by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell using chords, lyrics, and the original recording.
| A | B/A |
(You’re all I need to get by) Like sweet morning dew, I took one look at you…