After dealing with depression, financial troubles and drug abuse, Gaye went to Belgium to regroup. While there, he hung out with friend and biographer David Ritz, who sensed the inner conflict Gaye faced between his spiritual upbringing and his sex-and-drugs lifestyle. "When I suggested he needed sexual healing, he laughed and quickly agreed," Ritz wrote in Rolling Stone. A rhythm track written by sideman Odell Brown, Ritz continued, would help spark this major comeback hit. "Lyrics came pouring out of me while he sang the melody over Odell's chords. We jammed for a half-hour, and 'Sexual Healing' was written."
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