Marvin Gaye was a singer and songwriter, known for his prominent role in the Motown record company. He grew up in Washington, D.C, and was raised by his father, Marvin Gay, Sr, a minister, and his mother, Alberta Gay. Marvin first discovered his musical talent and passion by singing in his father’s church. As Marvin began his musical career, he was teased for his surname “Gay”, so he added an ‘E’ to the end of it, which created distance between him and his father, who had a rocky relationship. Marvin soon became successful in the music industry, and had created a number of hit songs. Marvin’s career helped to shape the style and reputation of Motown Records.
On April 1, 1984, Marvin was fatally shot by his father in their Los Angeles home. On the day of the murder, Marvin and Marvin Sr were arguing about a misplaced insurance policy document. At this point, the relationship between Marvin and his father was as heated as ever- Marvin’s sister had moved out of the house just to avoid the conflict. In the months prior to his death, Marvin’s family reported that he was depressed and suicidal, and had even tried to jump out of a moving car. After an alleged assassination attempt, Marvin became increasingly paranoid, so on Christmas of 1983, he gave his father a pistol to protect him from potential robbers and murderers. Marvin couldn’t possibly have known that the gun he purchased to protect his family would end up becoming his own murder weapon.
As Marvin and his father fought for hours about the missing document, the altercation became physical when Marvin kicked his father, according to testimony from his mother, who was a witness. Shortly after this, Marvin, Sr took the pistol that his son gave him and shot him in the chest. The bullet hit his right lung, heart, diaphragm, liver, stomach, and left kidney. The first shot was fatal, but Marvin, Sr moved closer and shot him again. The house broke out in mayhem as members of the family screamed in terror. Gaye was pronounced dead at the hospital, the day before his 45th birthday. Gaye’s father stated that he killed his son in self-defense, did not know if the gun was loaded, and even said, “I didn’t mean to do it.” Marvin, Sr pleaded no contest to a voluntary manslaughter charge and was given a six year suspended sentence with five years of probation.