KTTV 70: Marvin Gaye: A look back on his life and death

Whether at the Hollywood Palace or on Soul Train Marvin Gaye's sound was unique. He was a fixture in the world of music in the 60s 70s and 80s. But, in 1984, Gaye was killed by his father Marvin Gay, Sr.

Notice that the singer added an "e" to his last name.  

It was April 1, 1984. The way police explained it, Gaye and his 70-year-old dad exchanged angry words. The dad was upset about some documents he couldn't find. There were words. The anger escalated.

According to a Los Angeles Police Department Detective, "That subsequently led to a physical dispute; pushing and shoving."

Police said, "That led to Marvin Sr. pulling a handgun and killing his son with shots to the heart and left shoulder."

Marvin Gaye who had incredible success with music had a dark side. He was said to have had issues with drugs like cocaine and PCP. He had become paranoid and depressed. He thought someone might try to harm him.

And, then, the gunfire the day before he was to turn 45.

Marvin Gay Sr. was charged with murder rather than manslaughter because the District Attorney is convinced he had time to reflect on what he was going to do before he shot to death his son Marvin Gaye Jr.

Gay Sr's attorney asked the court for the pentecostal minister to have a psychological exam to determine if he was competent to stand trial.  That was ordered by the judge. But, in the end, Gay was given a 6-year suspended sentence and 5 years of probation. Though his remains were later cremated and scattered at sea, the singer was first buried at Forest Lawn.

Quite a few of the famous like Stevie Wonder, showed up at Gaye's funeral, but Mickey Stevenson said he couldn't. Stevenson, who wrote and produced some of Gaye's music, says it was too hard.

"Personally," he said, "it took me a while to get over it because we were very close... very close..."

Stevenson wrote several songs for Gaye and helped shape his career while at Motown where he headed up A & R. It was a relationship that would turn Gaye from a jazz and gospel singer to the Prince of Soul.

Our video story contains video from our KTTV archives.