Today - April 2 - would have marked Marvin Gaye's 81st birthday. To commemorate the Prince of Soul's indelible legacy on this day, we have compiled together some of Gaye's greatest hits that showcase both his wide-ranging vocal range and career. What's your favorite Gaye love song?
10. "Stubborn Kind of Fellow"
Gaye put his name on the map with this breakthrough single "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" in 1962 with his very first R&B Chart entry. On October 20, 1962, the song, co-written by Gaye, Mickey Stevenson and Berry Gordy's brother George, sneaked into the Hot 100 at No. 98.
9. "I Want You"
Producer Leon Ware would describe the 1976 album's message as "[making] love to everyone you see. That was it, in so many words." The title track to Gaye's fourteenth studio album, "I Want You" begins hot with passionate sighs and moans amidst Gaye's own tender vocals. Originally released March 16 in '76, Gaye asks his lovers and fans alike to enjoy "getting down" with the steady electric guitar, flirtatious percussion and his multi-tracked pleas.
8. "It Takes Two"
"It Takes Two" was Gaye's stepping stone that affirmed his abilities as an uplifting duet partner. His pairing with Motown's Kim Weston, which would preface his duets with his dear friend Tammi Terrell, would earn Gaye the title of "Prince of Motown." Gaye had already collaborated with Weston's husband, William "Mickey" Stevenson on hits like "Dancing in the Street" and "Stubborn Kind of Fellow"
7. "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)"
Written by Motown's powerful trio Holland-Dozier-Holland, the 1964 song proved fruitful for Gaye and the stars that would later cover the song. Marking the second of Gaye's 13 Top Ten Hits, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" would also score James Taylor as well as Jr. Walker and the All-Stars hits in their subsequent versions of the appealing soul record.
6. "Sexual Healing"
Gaye split from Motown with this new seductive single, serenading "Baby I'm hot just like an oven/I need some lovin'." Further establishing his reputation the romantic seducer, "Sexual Healing" won the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1982, resurfacing a decade later in 1995 in a comically steamy car advertisement.
5. "What's Going On"
Cementing Gaye's contributions as not only the king of bedroom soul but also a profound social commentator, 1971's "What's Going On" immortalizes Gaye's politically charged plea for his generation to wake up and face struggles many were willing to overlook. His template of funk pop groove overlaying a strong message spotlights Gaye's remarkable gift of songcraft that pushed his message onward.
4. "Trouble Man"
The theme song in Robert Hooks' 1972 film, "Trouble Man" showcases Gaye's silky falsetto with a backdrop of soulful saxophone. The signature soul tune frames Gaye with vintage suave, resulting in an irresistible soul standard.
3. "Let's Get It On"
One of intimacy's greatest songs, Gaye reworked former Motown labelmate Ed Townsend's religious song into a passionate anthem of love. Layered with soul and sexual charge, "Let's Get It On" immortalized Gaye's sex-symbol status.
2. "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)"
The last track in Gaye's 1971 What's Going On album, the song laments the shortcomings of society as Gaye explains "Inflation no chance/To increase finance/ Bills pile up sky high/Send that boy off to die/Make me wanna holler." Gaye's grievances are offset only the soothing bassline and funk-soul beat accompanying the song's disquieting mood.
1. "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"
It slinks its way in - the low, looming bassline and the quivering tambourine rattle. The horns enter in on high-alert. The song’s instrumentation prepares us for a classic tale of heartbreak. Written by Motown hitmakers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, Gaye's version, sung higher than his typical rang, was snuck into his 1968 album In The Groove.Not only did the song chart by December 14, 1968 that year as #1, latching onto the top notch spot on the charts for seven weeks, Gaye's version also became the label's golden, top selling-hit.