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c. 1962-1965

A young Marvin Gaye at beginning of his reign as Prince of Soul

On his way up, Gaye appeared in London, Detroit and Chicago in the mid-60s

Prince of Motown.

For Marvin Gaye, the fact his fame had brought him the nickname the “Prince of Soul” was deeply ironic.  Singing had been a refuge from a brutal and tyrannical father—a man who was also a Christian minister.  Gaye described living with his father, who routinely beat him from the age of seven, as akin to living in the court of a cruel and all-powerful king.

His voice had been his doorway out of that court, and it was also his ticket out of the housing projects of Washington, D.C., where his father resided. His father, in turn, was only too pleased to see Marvin gone, having kicked his son out of the house on many occasions.

Gaye’s initial forays into the music business was as part of a number of backing bands, working with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, and recording for Okeh and Chess records. In fact, Gaye’s first single released in 1961 was a flop, and he worked as a drummer for the remainder of the year.

Within three years, though, Gaye was in the Hot 100’s Top Ten, and by the end of the decade, he had hit number one. There followed a legendary career. But ultimately, the legacy of his treatment at his father’s hand was to overcome him—shot dead by his father at the age of 44.

These color pictures show Marvin in the mid-1960s, when his reign as Prince of Soul began.

1962
The exterior of the Regal Theater with the Marquee for the Motown Revue (Mary Wells, The Miracles, The Contours, The Marvelettes, Marv Johnson, The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, Bill Murray, Little Stevie Wonder and The Choker Campbell Orchestra) in June 1962. Chicago, Illinois.
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
1964
Gaye performs on “Thank Your Lucky Stars” television show filmed in Birmingham, England, 1964.
David Redfern / Redferns / Getty Images
1964
Gaye in 1964
David Redfern / Redferns / Getty Images
1964
Gaye posed at Television House, Kingsway, London, 1964
David Redfern / Redferns / Getty Images
1964
Gaye in Manchester Square, London, 1964
David Redfern / Redferns / Getty Images
1964
Gaye performs on BBC TV, 1964
David Redfern / Redferns / Getty Images
1964
Preparing to record, 1964
David Redfern / Redferns / Getty Images
1962
Onstage with back-up dancers on the variety TV show “Hullabaloo” on February 2, 1965.
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
1965
Onstage in Detroit, 1965
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
1965
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
1965
A view of the Marquee for Murray The K’s Easter Show at the Brooklyn Fox Theater featuring Marvin Gaye as well as the Miracles, Martha & the Vandellas, The Marvelettes, and Little Anthony & the Imperials, April 17, 1965 New York City.
Donaldson Collection / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
1967
Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye
GAB Archive / Redferns

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