Marvin Gaye co-wrote the hits “Beachwood 4-5789” for the Marvelettes and “Dancing In The Streets” for Martha and the Vandellas.
Motown founder Berry Gordy often called Gaye, “The truest artist I’ve ever known.” In a 1994 interview with Harvey Kubernik, he added, “Whatever he was going through in his life he put on records. So if you want to know Marvin just listen to one of his records.”
Gordy should know. As Gaye’s boss at Tamla/Motown, as his brother-in-law (through his sister, Anna Gordy) and as his friend, Gordy had a complex and sometimes tumultuous relationship with Gaye throughout the singer’s entire career. He elaborated in a Wall Street Journal interview:
“It never mattered what people said about us on the outside. People who wrote articles and books got everything wrong all the time. According to them, Marvin and I were supposed to be the biggest enemies, that we were fighting all the time and that I was doing this and that to him. But within our company and within us, it was different.”
Motown founder Berry Gordy has called Marvin Gaye’s 1971 protest album, What’s Going On, “the most prestigious record” the label ever released. Gordy was not so optimistic when he first got wind of Gaye’s project years earlier. He thought it was another one of the singer’s crazy schemes, like when he wanted to become a boxer or a professional football player. The making of the What’s Going On album has become the stuff of legend with Gordy as the villain trying to block its release and Gaye as the hero threatening to never record with Motown again unless he relented.
Gordy admits it took him awhile to accept the idea but claims the stories are false. He told the Wall Street Journal in 2011, “Once he told me he wanted to awaken the minds of mankind, and I could see in his eyes how serious he was, I had to let him do it.” He later added. “I thought those records would ruin him. Instead, they made him an icon.”