Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

Steve Turner, Author Ecco $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-019821-3
Originally published in the U.K. in 1998, this biography surveys the ups and downs of Marvin Gaye's life, taking an admiring but not enamored stance concerning the Motown singer's contribution to American music. London-based music writer Turner presents an exciting profile, regardless of the reader's prior knowledge of the soul legend. Gaye was born in 1939 in Washington, D.C., and raised with his father Marvin Sr.'s strong religious beliefs he sang in church at age two but he was also plagued by his father's mistreatment of his mother and general ultra-strict demeanor. The dysfunctional upbringing would have devastating effects later in Gaye's life. He believed he was chosen by God to sing, and kept this view throughout his life, despite what Turner depicts as his subsequent straying from morality and purity. Gaye's first album, in 1961, flopped (it was deemed too jazzy), and he turned to profitable and popular R & B at the urging of agents and producers, coupled with introductions to Smokey Robinson and others. An illustrious musical career ensued, highlighted with hits like ""I Heard It Through the Grapevine"" and ""Sexual Healing."" But for this ""trouble man,"" even bright moments of fame and success were merely shades away from distress. He began spontaneous romances despite lingering bitterness from previous relationships, gave lavish concerts while struggling to pay alimony to his ex-wives and projected a thriving, happy image to the world while he battled with serious drug dependency. The author comprehensively presents Gaye's decline and fall (including his 1984 murder by his father), offering equal amounts of musical data and personal anecdotes. Two 8-page b&w photo inserts. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
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