Honor Thy Brother-In-Law: A Visit With Marvin Gaye

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Whereas with the audience, then, you're actually fighting the whole audience.
I'm fighting it all. I'm fighting the music, first of all. I feel I'm a musician and as a performer, I'm very aware of what's happening to me musically when I'm on stage, aware of every note that's being played. I hear every musician, every instrument, every drumbeat, every miss, every good lick, every flat, every sharp. There's a lot going on in my head, man, and I, on top of that, have to please the audience, and it's very complex.

The audience never hears all these little goofs and things, but they aren't doing everything up out of proportion. I'm saying, "Oh, wow, that sounded terrible. That mother, I'll kill him! I'll fire him!" in my mind.

One more question: Tammi Terrell. Before she hooked up with you, was she a solo artist?
She was for a while.

How much do you know about what happened to her?
I don't know anything about what happened. And if I did, I would be willing to tell.

But it's true that the media have made . . .
Yeah, they've made monsters out of people who probably aren't responsible. I never read any accounts where I did anything detrimental to her.

Did that affect your going away from the scene?

Somewhat or a lot?

Did you maintain as a solo artist?
Yes, I did. I very rarely worked with Tammi. On a few isolated college engagements. We were very popular among students. We took ten, 15 dates a year.

Did you know about her injury? Was she suffering and still working on stage?
Um hmm . . . I'm not sure she knew how serious it was until she collapsed. In fact, I'm sure she didn't. She felt she was having headaches. She took a lot of pain medicine; she had seen several doctors, and they had said take a couple Darvons, whatever, see if it helps.

Were you serious yesterday when you said that women should be made inferior to men?
Yes, I believe that.

If you were a woman, you think you would like that?
I think I would like that.

Being domestic and subordinate?
Yes, sir. You got it, baby.

Does the wife agree with that?
Certainly not.

Are you bothered by Women's Liberation?
Generally I'm not bothered by anything. Let them liberate themselves, if they must. That's their right. And I do believe in rights. I can still think how I feel.

But that's exactly contrary to what you're saying. They want to be "liberated," and you say they should be made to be inferior.
I didn't say "made to be," but sort of "made to feel." [laughs]

You're lucky you know how to laugh at the right places.
I just lost the women of America . . . can't afford to do that, Mary. They should be liberated, if they want to be – just like the blacks. Should we give them all their rights? I think they should have them, yes . . . While they have them, make them feel a little inferior.

How can you say that?
That's the same way I feel about women.

Why should blacks, women or men, feel inferior?
Everybody's got to have a thing. I might as well join the bandwagon. That's just a little ideology: "Let's get 'em and chain 'em down now; they're getting too far."

As a black man, do you want to be made to feel a little inferior?
As a black man, I am made to feel a little inferior. Something that comes natural. It comes naturally to whites. Most whites feel that way about blacks. Some of them, in spite of feeling that they are, oh, liberal . . . "Well, I am a liberal white man, I'm really groovy, I like those blacks . . ." but invariably, the fact is his genes and hormones and everything in him tells him that he is superior. Subconsciously it comes across. It shows in an eye, a gesture, little bitty things that, as blacks, we can pick up. It is passed down from parents' generations. As time goes on, I think it will erase itself. As kids grow up and the process of dying and being born goes on, it will be cool. But it takes time.

You're patient.
I'm patient for 30, 40, 50 or so years. After that I'm gone. If it happens in my time – Hooray, you know?

This story is from the April 27th, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone.

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Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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