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MOTOWN Celebrates: Marvin Gaye’s Legacy, He Would have been 70 on April 2nd

In the commemorative year of Motown’s 50th anniversary, April 2, 2009, will also celebrate the 70th birthday of the late, great Marvin Gaye. Tragically, April 1 marks the 25th anniversary of his untimely death, just one day before his 45th birthday.

As Motown’s premier solo male artist of the ’60s, highlighted by his groundbreaking hit “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”—at one time the biggest-selling single in Motown’s history—Gaye emerged as the label’s most transformative artist in the ’70s. He consistently broke new ground through songs about love, social issues, or sexual politics. From his ’60s hit “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” to his legendary performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, he epitomized the essence of “soul music.”

Marvin Gaye’s influence and popularity endure. His 1971 album, What’s Going On, profoundly altered the landscape of popular music and remains one of Rolling Stone magazine’s top 10 albums of all time. In 1973, Let’s Get It On was released, becoming one of the most evocative and sensual albums ever, led by its title track—a song that remains immensely popular, achieving Gold status as a single in its time, and now a Gold digital download and Platinum-selling ringtone.

In 1987, three years after his passing, Gaye was rightfully inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, among the second group of artists ever to receive this honor. More recently, he was ranked No. 6 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

To commemorate the milestones of his birth and death, Motown/UMe will release a special digital-only album on March 31, titled Marvin Gaye: Then & Now. This 14-track collection of rarities includes the previously unreleased “Soulie” (pronounced “sue-lee”), a 1966 track newly discovered by Motown’s New York-based producer Mickey Gentile, and a vibrant 2009 remix of “I Want You,” Marvin’s No. 1 hit from 1976, by the acclaimed John Morales of M+M Productions.

Additionally, Motown/UMe will release a vinyl-only edition of United, Gaye’s classic duet album with Tammi Terrell, on April 14. Setting the standard for all R&B male-female duos, Gaye and Terrell’s collaboration on this 1967 album produced timeless hits like “If I Could Build My World Around You,” “Your Precious Love,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

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