1939 - Born on April 2nd in Washington, D.C. An American soul singer-songwriter-producer who, to a large extent, ushered in the era of artist-controlled popular music of the 1970s.
1962-1968 - His break came with “Stubborn Kinda Fellow”, the first of a long string of hits in the Motown mold—mainly songs written and produced by others, including “I'll Be Doggone”, by Smokey Robinson, and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, by Norman Whitfield. Gaye also enjoyed a series of successful duets, most notably with Tammi Terrell (“Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing”).
1971 - He turned the tables on Motown's producer-driven hierarchy by becoming his own producer for "What's Going On", the most significant work of his career.
1972 - Gaye wrote the soundtrack for the film Trouble Man, with lyrics that mirrored his own sense of insecurity.
1973 - "Let's Get It On", released, displayed Gaye's sensuous side.
1976 - "I Want You" was another meditation on libidinous liberation.
1979 - "Here, My Dear" brilliantly dealt with Gaye's divorce from Gordy's sister Anna (the first of the singer's two tumultuous divorces).
1982 - Deeply indebted to the Internal Revenue Service, he fled the country, living in exile in England and Belgium, where he wrote “Sexual Healing”, the song that signaled his comeback and led to his only Grammy Award.
1983 - “Sexual Healing” tour, his last, was marked by chaos and confusion.
1984 - On April 1st, during a family dispute, Gaye initiated a violent fight with his father, who shot him to death. Those close to the singer theorized that it was a death wish come true. For months before, he had toyed with suicide.
1987 - Gaye, who cited his chief influences as Ray Charles, Clyde McPhatter, Rudy West (lead singer for the doo-wop group the Five Keys), and Little Willie John, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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