Famous Musicians & Their Musical Kids: Marvin Gaye, Part 3 #4M + #BoTB

Attention BoTBers, today’s battle song feature’s Gayle’s hit song, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” near the end of the post. Feel free to skip to the bottom or read about him in my newest edition of Famous Musicians & Their Musical Kids series.

In Part 1, I showcased 50s teen-idol Ricky Nelson & Sons, and last month I featured Mr. Cool Dean Martin. Today, I’m bringing the flavor of R&B your way with the late Prince of Soul, Marvin Gayle.

I only knew Mr. Gayle as a singer but he got his start as an in-house session drummer who was instrumental in shaping the Motown sound of the early 60s first and then later producing, writing, and singing his own mewsic leading to a number of successful hit songs.

Two of his earlier best-selling songs and favorites of mine are “How Sweet It Is (To Be Love By You)” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”.

Brian and Eddie Holland (brothers) and Lamont Dozier wrote the first of these songs. This songwriting team helped to shape that Motown sound we love with their lyrics, arrangements, and productions. Here’s Marvin’s 1964  #4 Billboard Hot 100 tune.

 

Gaye’s next hit single is actually a cover (The Miracles). Both releasing this song on their albums in 1968 but it was Gaye who shot straight to the top of and stayed for seven weeks on the Billboard Pop Singles.

 

Every time I hear this song, I think of the California Raisins commercials from the mid-80s.

 

 

Marvin married twice. In 1963, he married Anna Gordy. Three years later, they adopted Anna’s niece’s (Denise) son, Marvin III born November 16, 1966. The couple worked together on a few of Marvin’s songs (The Originals and several tracks from What’s Going On) together and Anna was his inspiration for his lyrics. He said this about her [Anna]. “I was head over heels in love with Anna. I just wrote what I felt about her, and what she did for me.” The sad truth was their marriage was volatile with accounts of physical violence on both sides and infidelity accusations. They permanently separated in 1972 and three years later Anna filed for divorce.

Marvin Jr. describes himself as a gifted recording artist, producer, and businessman.

 

I couldn’t find a lot out about Marvin Jr. I know that he’s married after watching some interview vids on YouTube but it’s his Facebook Fan page “About” section I learned he was diagnosed with Diabetes a few years ago and is now waiting for a Kidney transplant. My prayers are with you and yours.

In late 1977 after his divorce finalized Marvin married second wife, Janis Hunter. They had two children, Nona (September 4, 1974) and Frankie Christian (November 16, 1975). Their family started before marriage and two years after unifying as husband and wife, the couple separated and eventually divorced in 1981.

 

Nona Gaye is best known as an actress in her role as Zee in the last two Matrix movies (Reloaded & Revolution).  We saw the first Matrix film years ago and as wildly popular this series was we weren’t impressed.  In all fairness we’re now giving these movies a second chance. Anywho, in 1992 Nona recorded her first album Love For The Future a month after her 18th birthday which produced two top 20 hits.

 

FYI…I noticed in the iTunes store “I’m Overjoyed” for $0.69 cents. That’s a super price!

 

 

The year after her début album, People Magazine listed Nona as one the 50 Most Beautiful People which landed her a contract with the Ford Agency becoming a new face for the prestigious Armani fashion line.

Miss Gaye collaborated and dated with the late artist Prince for three years. The mewsical duet produced the single, Love Sign, from Prince’s album 1-800-NEW-FUNK.

 

It’s funny, DH and I were talking about Prince recently. Both of commenting how there isn’t any of his songs that we can say that we really like but I like this track.

Included in this Prince’s NPG Records compliation Nona produced a solo,  A Woman’s Gotta Have It, from this album.

Gaye did backup vocals for We March from Prince’s 1995 The Gold Experience album and in the title track of his 1996 Girl 6 album.  She’s stated candidly during this period of having a long-term drug problem but was able to quit the habit in 1996.

In 2001 to raise money for AIDS research, Nona and an all-star ensemble performed her dad’s song, What’s Going On.

 

I wanted to find a video of father and daughter singing. Wikipedia mentioned that an 8-year Nona introduced her dad on Soul Train but I couldn’t find a clip to share but I did find in 2004, Nona was asked to perform the National Anthem for the NBA Allstar Games in which she did a duet with her late father.

 

Her biggest career move came when she replaced Aaliyah as Zee, after being killed in a plane accident, forwas cast as the character Zee in the 2003 Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolution films. Prior to this, her had limited acting roles included “Harlem Nights’ (1989) as a patrone and played Belinda Ali in the 2001 film “Ali”.  Between 2004 – 2009 her film credits are, “Crash” as Karen, “The Polar Express” voice of Hero Girl, “XXX: State of the Union” as Lola Jackson, “The Gospel” as Charlene Taylor Frank, and “Blood and Bone” as Tamara.  The last recording by Nona is an EP Language of Love with Quarter to Three and Midas Lover done in 2008. Unfortunately, I could not find either on YouTube.

Nona is a beautiful person with a beautiful talent for singing and acting. I hope to see or hear more from Marvin’s daughter in the future.

 

Marvin’s youngest son Frankie Christian required a bit more sluething. I discovered in my Internet research that he goes by “Christian Scott”. But I’m beginning to think that was a trip down a rabbit hole. Things just didn’t add up. Feel free to let me know what you think or if you have intel on Frankie then please share with us in comments.

I think I only vaguely recall the death of Marvin Gaye. On April 1, 1984 the singer’s father, Marvin Gaye, Sr. shot and killed him to death in his bedroom.  He was hit once in the heart and second shot at closer range in the shoulder. It’s reported Marvin intervened in a fight between his parents before the shooting.  Initially, charged with first-degree murder Gaye, Sr. charges reduced to voluntary manslaughter after a brain tumor diagnoses.  The autopsy showed Marvin had drugs in his system at the time of his death. Was Marvin out-of-control because of the drugs? Did the elder Marvin’s illness triggered fear for his life or that of his wife even though they were fighting? I don’t know, I can only speculate and say that all of this could be a factor. The outcome, Gaye, Sr got a suspended six-year sentence and probation. He passed in 1998 while in a nursing home

Marvin’s kids sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for ripping “Got To Give It Up” in the smash hit “Blurred Lines” which finally got settled in 2015 resulting in Thicke & Williams paying $7.3M in retribution.

 

Honestly, there is a lot this sorta thing that happens intentional and not in the mewsic industry. Thicke’s supposed comment on creating a song to reminence Gaye’s song strongly sounds like copyright infringement. What bothers me is if that was their intent, why not clear it legally before the bomb goes off?  I reckon his judgement was impaired. What’s your opinion?

I hope you enjoyed this installement of Famous Musicians and Their Musical Kids. This is Curious as a Cathy sigining off with a few of my favorite Marvin Gaye songs!


Thank you for including me in your Monday, kittens & dawgs!  It’s fabulous to see you! Are you ready to groove to some mewsic?  Our theme this week is “Your Choice”. We’re not finicky if you have tunes to share then we’re ready to boogie with you and we invite you step on the dance floor with XmasDolly, Stacy, Colette , and little ole me!

This is a weekly hop for mewsic enthusiasts regardless if you follow our weekly theme or not if you have mewsic to share then we’re ready to dance with you. Otherwise, I ask that you DO NOT link non-mewsic posts below to boost traffic to your site. You’re welcome to leave your URL in comments with a brief description inviting me to check it out. Thank you!



 

 

I decided to tie in today’s mewsic tribute of Marvin Gayle and his classic hit, “I Heard It Through the Grapevines” (see above for reference) in my Battle of the Bands. I picked two unlikely names (to me) to cover this oldie and I’ll leave it to you to decide who wins the showdown.

 

 

 

Ok, here’s the drill. Voting is open to everyone visiting. There is NO wrong vote, except if you DON’T vote. You can start by telling me in comments which artist you like best and why (optional).

Which artist gets your vote, Fitzgerald or Milsap?

The fun continues with more epic battles underway and I invite you to visit the official manager of BoTB, Stephen for the update list of players.

 

To stay totally connected and in the loop of things on Curious as a Cathy, I hope you’ll join my email subscription service to get instant notification when I add new posts. Tell your friends to join us on the dance floor each week and I’ll see ya around the cyber-block. Keep those tunes playing and your body swaying!

What mewsic moves you today?

 

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30 thoughts on “Famous Musicians & Their Musical Kids: Marvin Gaye, Part 3 #4M + #BoTB

    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Mike, Well…I’m back up to speed with my routine blogging and decided to try participating in BoTB twice each month. I really love this meme but it can be hard to manage sometimes but I decided when it gets to be too much then I can always scale back. 🙂

      Reply
  1. Birgit

    I have to give it to Ronnie Milsap who did a great homage to this song. Ella was ok but I felt she was trying too hard to be cool since this was recorded at the time when groovy was in. Her singing was too much for me. I remember when he passed away because it shocked me that his dad killed him. I thought it had to have been one volatile confrontation before the actual shooting. Overall, very sad

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Birgit,

      I have to agree with you, Ronnie did a standup job on his cover. I wouldn’t have thought that a country artist would carry the votes but then I forgot how soulful Milsap’s mewsic style is making this song a purrfect match for his vocals. It’s always shocking and disturbs me great to hear the of a parent killing a child or the other way around. Murder is never right but family killing family is wrong on many levels!

      Fitzgerald – 2
      Milsap -5

      Reply
  2. greyzoned/angelsbark

    Wow Sister, you really packed this post full of soul! I love me some Marvin Gaye! Whenever I’m setting up for a jewelry show, I always play Marvin’s Greatest Hits as it helps me get through the laborious task of table design. I remember his death and found it so horrible that a father could shoot his son. Such a tragic loss of this great and talented artist.
    I was totally unaware of his offspring and their talents. Thanks for sinking your teeth into this one and bringing us some fabulous information and new music! His daughter is absolutely gorgeous and I can see why she nailed that modeling contract. She has a beautiful voice too…and favors her father.

    As for your battle: Heard It Through the Grapevine has always been a favorite of mine, even before the California Raisins commercial — but those little guys were favs of mine too! 🙂
    I’m giving my vote to Ronnie Milsap. Loved his version so much! I’ve never been a big Ella Fitzgerald fan really and her version didn’t really do it for me. Ronnie’s on the other hand, rocked!

    Awesome post today!

    Michele at Angels Bark

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Michele,

      I’m delighted you enjoyed this very long tribute to Marvin Gaye. Like you, I did not know about Gaye’s children. I just don’t seem to think about entertainers families. That just doesn’t come to me naturally unless it’s a family act. It is sad when a parent kills a child or vice versa. What makes a person’s mind snap like that is beyond my comprehension! Nona is a beautiful woman. Neither her mewsic or acting career is full throttle. I wonder why? The Matrix trilogy should’ve been enough to launch a nice career. There just isn’t much on her beyond 2009 other than the lawsuit with Thicke & Williams.

      The showdown between a jazz singer and country star started out evenly matched but now Milsap has twice the number of votes. Will this hold true to the end? I dunno, but I hope more folks vote before it’s over!

      Fitzgerald – 2
      Milsap -4

      Reply
  3. 15andmeowing

    I read a biography of Marvin Gaye a while ago written by his ex and she said she had a kitten that his mother was afraid of so he made her leave it on the side of the road- that did it for me to no longer like him.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Ellen, that’s so irresponsible and stupid. I’m not sure where he was living at the time but if it was a big city then you know there had to have animal shelters and at the very least a family friends probably would take the kitten. I know leaving pets beside the road was a comm n practice in parts of the country especially rural communities and that’s just nit right. Thanks for dancing with me!

      Reply
  4. John Holton

    I feel bad doing this because Ella Fittzgerald never seems to win any of my battles, but her rendition of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” was not one of her better moments. Ronnie Milsap did a good job with it, and he gets my vote.

    Marvin Gaye was a troubled individual who was also one of the great voices of Soul and R&B. You picked some great songs for him.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      John,

      Yeah, I’ve noticed that about your battles but I’ve always liked her in most of yours. I fear she may not win in mine, either.

      I don’t understand how celebrities get so embroiled in drugs or alcohol addiction but then there are ordinary people with the same hangups bringing them down, down, until they die from an accidental overdose or auto accident or heart failure or falling asleep in the bathtub or at the hands of another. It’s just truly sad. Chemical dependencies alter the personality, changing an individual in ways he/she has no clue. It’s only those around them who it’s apparent to that something isn’t right. Gaye really was a great R&B Soul artist! Your vote pulls Milsap in the lead.

      Fitzgerald – 2
      Milsap -3

      Reply
  5. Mary B

    Marvin’s death was certainly tragic. One can only wonder how much further his musical career would have gone had his life not been cut so short.

    I really liked Ella’s version. She really has a set of pipes on her, eh? And I really like Ronnie Milsap – (reminds me of a joke someone told me when I visited Nashville way back in the early 90’s – They said ‘Have you seen Ronnie Milsap’s home? Don’t worry, neither has he!’)

    I remember seeing Ronnie Milsap in concert in the early 80’s. While I know I went to a few concerts before his, I surely can’t remember who they were, so I claim his concert as the first that I saw.

    I’m not sure if it is because of Ronnie’s male voice that makes his version more appealing to me, or if it’s because of the memories tied to him. Whatever the reason, I’m voting for Ronnie Milsap.

    ~Mary

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Mary,

      Ella had a powerful but smooth voice, especially in her early years. By the time she made the recording of Gaye’s hit classic, Ella was in her mid-50s. Her vocals weren’t quite as silky as in her heyday but still awfully good. She could sing rings around me easily. For whatever reason, some artists’ voices don’t age gracefully and the ear definitely picks up on it.

      Oh, aren’t you terrible with that joke! I admit I did crack a smile and…laughed at it. One of my childhood girlfriends had a huge crush on Ronnie Milsap. I remember her going to one of his concerts and how she went on and on about his onstage attics where he nearly gave the audience a heart attack with almost stepping off the stage. Of course, he had his paces numbered and knew precisely where he was going. He had a good sense of humor. DH works with a guy who is Milsap’s cousin. He’s like three or four times removed but still a cousin nonetheless. I don’t think he’s ever met his famous cousin, though.

      Thanks for visiting and for weighing in this round of BoTB, my friend!

      Fitzgerald – 2
      Milsap -2

      Reply
  6. XmasDolly

    Sometimes I think sadly all the great music that could’ve been if Mr. Gaye lived on instead of it getting cut so drastically short. Every song he put out was a winner & went down in music history. “Heard it through the Grapevine” has to be one of my favorites being as it was a hit in high school. I didn’t know he had so many talented children. Thanks for the enlightenment. I must say though as far as his Star Spangled Banner is concerned (and of course to each to their own opinion which I respect), but my opinion is you don’t mess with political history. Not saying that it was disrespect, but to each their own. I prefer the original & I feel it should stay that way. Nice to hear a different way I guess. Cathy, Cathy, Cathy you kept me here much too long because I was thoroughly engrossed in all your work that you have done. Gotta catch up with my morning chores now!!! YOUR ROCK GIRLFRIEND! FANTASTIC JOB!!! WOW!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Marie,

      When it comes to the National Anthem I think it should be respectfully sung as the original and there’s no other rendition that can compete with it no matter how creative the artist thinks he/she is with their cover. I totally get ya girlfriend and stand with you on this issue. I’m glad you enjoyed the long post. I do go overboard sometimes, so thank you for sticking with me! *applauds*

      Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Patrick,

      Marvin had some excellent hits. I didn’t realize just how many he had until I started this post. It’s always sad to read of anyone dying too soon or at least too soon in human terms. We never know when it’s our time to go, do we? Sometimes it’s a freak accident or tragedy or serious illness or maybe we live a long life to die of old age but whenever it happens it pays to be ready to meet our Maker. My mother says, “You better be prayed up”. In other words get your affairs in order with the Lord. 😉 Thanks for hitting the dance floor today, my friend.

      Reply
  7. Comedy Plus

    I too loved Marvin Gaye. I listen to Motown heavily during my youth. Some great sounds. I too agree that his death was a tragedy.

    You really put in a lot of work with your posts.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Sandee,

      Digging up info for this article was a lot of fun. I really enjoy pulling these sorts of posts together and I just hope it isn’t too much for one sitting. Thanks for stopping in for a visit. 😉

      Reply
  8. McGuffy's Reader

    I have always loved Marvin Gaye. He is a classic. And Ronnie Milsap is a classic, too. But, Ella…I am a serious fan of Ella. She is one of my very favourites of all time. I LOVE HER.

    Reply
  9. mimi

    Mr. Gaye’s death was a tragedy all of the way around, no matter the fine details of why. The whole family suffered, i’m certain.

    Excellent music from a very talented family!

    Ella is my sentimental favorite.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Mimi,

      Oh definitely everyone suffered through this tragedy. I can only think that this weirdness behind Gaye Sr action was truly related to the brain tumor. It’s scary what a person is capable of doing, especially when he/she isn’t in the right mindset – very frightening indeed! Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

      Reply
  10. Thomas Anderson

    Hi, Cathy!

    Once again you thoroughly covered the topic. I learned a lot as you traced the careers of Marvin Gaye’s mewsical children. Berry Gordy’s sister Anna founded Anna Records along with sister Gwen. Anna Records is known as the forerunner of Motown and was responsible for releasing the first Motown hit single – Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want).” I enjoyed the recordings you presented of Marvin Gaye III and Nona Gaye. At the same time, it occurred to me how much their recordings, along with those of many other artists of the post-disco hip-hop era, depend on the production and sound mixing. These young singers obviously have charisma and vocal talent, but heavily produced recordings can make an average singer sound good and a good singer sound great… just saying.

    I had never before seen nor heard the Nona Gaye – Marvin Gaye simulated duet performance of the National Anthem. It reminded me of the time Natalie Cole sang “Unforgettable” in front of a screen playing the same song performed by her late father Nat. I was not familiar with Nona’s collaboration with Prince, nor did I know about the all star cover of Marvin’s “What’s Going On” to benefit AIDS research. I also learned for the first time about the legal battle over Robin Thicke’s monster hit “Blurred Lines,” allegedly more of a rip-off than a recording merely reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.” I have both recordings in my collection and it never before occurred to me how similar they are. Maybe that’s because my ears have grown accustomed to extensive sampling found in recordings released in the last 25 or 30 years.

    Now I turn to your October 1 BOTB. While I admire Ella Fitgerald, her jazzy version of “Heard It Through The Grapevine” doesn’t work for me. Something seems to be wrong with the audio on the Ronnie Milsap video you embedded. I found a much clearer version on YouTube and I urge other voters to listen to this one to get an accurate idea of the sound:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp6OX-omRwU

    When I listened to Milsap’s “Grapevine” it I was blown away. Ronnie sounds like a soul singer rather than a country artist and he is supported on the recording by sweet, soulful female backing singers. The track also includes a killer guitar interlude. By far I enjoyed the Ronnie Milsap cover of “Grapevine” in your BOTB, but I will always consider the version recorded by Gladys Knight & The Pips to be the definitive.

    Thank you very much, dear friend Cathy!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Tom,

      Thank you for making time in your morning to visit and leave such a fine comment to my post. You’re the bestest! Anywho, you always enlighten me with a tidbit or two that I overlooked in my Internet research. I somehow missed the information about Anna Records. So, thanks for sharing this factoid. You’re absolutely right, average singers are made to sound great with studio magic and good artists even better. It’s not until you hear an artist’s live performance do you know truly how talented he/she is and it’s sad to say most of today’s so-called talent is not there outside the studio.

      I was thinking the same thing of the Marvin/Nona duet, as you. 🙂 I wish I could’ve found them performing together but she was young when her dad died, so they didn’t have a lot of chance to do that sort of thing. I’m not sure what went wrong with the Milsap cover vid I shared, I now have yours up in place of mine, but it sounded okay last week. Anywho, I’m like you Milsap totally owns this song as a jazz performer and if you didn’t he was a country boy at heart then you’d think he was an R&B artist. He did a great job with this song. Glady Knight & The Pips do a fabulous cover, too. I guess my favorite Marvin Gaye cover of this song is CCR mostly because that’s the band I grew up listening to a lot but they do a stellar job! Have a great day my friend!

      Fitzgerald – 1
      Milsap -1

      Reply
  11. Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden)

    Wow, you put some heavy research into this, Cathy!. I grew up with Marvin Gaye (not in person, of course). Hearing of his death was so tragic to me. So I had no idea of the musical legacy of his children. No idea that “Zee” was his daughter. And “What’s Going On” – a classic song still full of meaning today.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Alana,

      Marvin Gaye was truly a mewsical legend and the number of hit songs he had is amazing! Thanks for sharing the dance floor with me, my friend. I’ll boogie over to see you soon! 😉

      Reply
  12. Arlee Bird

    That was a very informational post about one of my favorites from MoTown. I consider What’s Going On to be one of the best albums ever–at least one of my favorites.

    The artists performing this song were, like you said, unlikely. I really like both versions. I like the hipness and cool orchestration of Ella’s version. And Ronnie really rocks it.

    This is a tough call, but I’m going to hand this vote to Ella’s version. The orchestration is da bomb.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    Reply
    1. Cathy Kennedy Post author

      Lee,

      Informative? Is that code for way-too-long? lol I go a bit overboard with this series. There’s so much stuff that goes along with this series that it’s hard to not include the details. I appreciate you sticking with it, though. I have your vote recorded for Ella.

      Ella Fitzgerald – 1
      Ronnie Milsap – 0

      Reply

Thank you for visiting and I hope you have a purrfect day!