Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr.) (April 2, 1939 â€“ April 1, 1984) was an American soul and R&B singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, record producer and performer who gained international fame as an artist on the Motown label in the 1960s and 1970s.
Beginning his career at Motown in 1960, Gaye quickly became Motown's top solo male artist and scored numerous hits during the 1960s, among them "Stubborn Kind of Fellow", "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)", "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", and several hit duets with Tammi Terrell, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "You're All I Need to Get By", before moving on to his own form of musical self-expression.
Gaye is notable for fighting the hit-making, but creatively restrictive, Motown record-making process, in which performers and songwriters and record producers were generally kept in separate camps. With his successful 1971 album What's Going On and subsequent releases including Trouble Man and Let's Get It On, Gaye, who had been a part-time songwriter for Motown artists during his early years with the label, proved that he could write and produce his own singles without having to rely on the Motown system. This achievement (along with those of contemporaries, Curtis Mayfield and George Clinton), would pave the way for the successes of later self-sufficient singer-songwriter-producers in African American music, such as Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, and Babyface.
During the 1970s, Gaye would release several other notable albums, including Let's Get It On and I Want You, and had hits with singles such as "Let's Get It On", "Got to Give It Up", and, in the early 1980s, "Sexual Healing". By the time of his death in 1984 at the hands of his clergyman father, Gaye had become one of the most influential artists of the soul music era.