He would have turned 70 today. Hard to comprehend. But he never made it, and we can only guess how depleted our musical heritage is as a result.
He signed with Motown in 1961, and actually started there as a session drummer. He went on to record thirty-nine Top 40 songs, from dance hits like “Hitch Hike” to memorable melodies like “How Sweet It Is (To be Loved by You)”. He had hits with three different duet partners: Mary Wells, Kim Weston, and Tammi Terrell. Just listen closely to where Marvin and Tammi took “You’re All I Need to Get By”, and you’ll agree it’s just as amazing now as when first recorded. His “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” is often considered the pinnacle of Motown music.
Marvin’s music got more political during the latter part of his music career, leading to fights with Berry Gordy, who initially refused to release Marvin’s first “relevant” soul album. But American music is so much richer because he did. Even now, Marvin is What’s Going On.
Right on, baby. Right on, right on.