Marvin Gaye and his father had the relationship you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
Since early on, Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. and Marvin Sr. didn’t see eye to eye on much. Marvin Sr. ran the house, as his son referred to, “like a King,” with ever changing tempers, whims, and desires. His father beat him frequently, and was generally abusive to the entire family.
And when Marvin Jr. – with vocal talent and a whole lot of moxy – got out of the service, he had the breakthrough of a lifetime. After singing at Motown Records’ founder Berry Gordy’s home, Gay was offered a contract with Tamla Records, a subsidiary of Motown. At that point Marvin decided a change for his last name was in order; NOT just because of the idea that having the last name “Gay” would identify him as homosexual (which was much more taboo in the early 60s), but because he wanted to distance himself from his father.
(See, not necessarily what you were thinking.)
The name change certainly made him a name we’ll never forget.
Rest in Peace, Marvin Gaye. Thank you for making our world SO much more musically adventurous.