I remember hearing the news and thinking it was somebody's version of a cruel April Fool's joke.
But sadly, it wasn't. Twenty five years ago today, on April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye, the sweet prince of soul music, was shot and killed, gunned down by his own father during an argument. His slaying silenced that the best-selling Motown artist of all time. But more tragically, the crooning chronicler of a generation was no more.
How many singers continue to be influenced by Gaye's plaintive, silky tenor? Frankie Beverly, Brian McKnight, Maxwell.....the list goes on. Inspired by his hero, Sam Cooke, it seems Marvin was in our ears from the beginning, from the days of "Can I Get A Witness" to his seamless collaborations with Philly girl Tammi Terrell, a kinship that ended way too soon.
But for my money, the visionary What's Going On, was Marvin's seminal moment. The album spoke for all of us children of the '70's, our consciousnesses as well as our fantasies. It articulated, in only nine tracks, our case for peace, the environment and playful, youthful lust. And even now, when things most definitely ain't what they used to be, the album has stood the test of time, as fresh and hopeful as the spring daffodils I saw finally popping up in my garden this morning.