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Marvin Pentz GAY Sr.





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Parricide - American fundamentalist minister of the House of God
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 1, 1984
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: October 1, 1914
Victim profile: His son Marvin Gaye, 44 (American singer-songwriter)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to five years probation. Died on October 10, 1998
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The Reverend Marvin Pentz Gay, Sr. (October 1, 1914 – October 10, 1998) was an American fundamentalist minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and later a spin-off sect called the House of God.

Born on a farm along Catnip Hill Pike in Jessamine County, Kentucky, he was the father and murderer of famous Motown performer Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr., later known as Marvin Gaye.

The father and son were said not to have gotten along. Gaye, Jr., was said to have resented his father because he was a closeted crossdresser. Gay, Sr., was displeased with his son's secular music and lifestyle, and arguments between the two were regular and frequent.

Gay, Sr., shot his son twice (in the shoulder and chest) and killed him during an argument at the Gays' Los Angeles, California home on April 1, 1984.

He served five years probation for the filicide, after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter, and was sent to a rest home for the remainder of his life. He died of pneumonia in Culver City, California, at the age of 84, in 1998.


The Reverend Marvin Pentz Gay, Sr. (October 1, 1914 – October 10, 1998) was an American fundamentalist minister of the House of God. He was the father of legendary musician Marvin Gaye and gained notoriety after shooting and killing his eldest son on April 1, 1984 following an argument at their Los Angeles home.

Early life

Gaye was Born on a farm along Catnip Hill Pike in Jessamine County, Kentucky to George and Mamie Gay, and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. Gay had a difficult childhood, surviving his father's physical abuse towards him and his 12 siblings.

Gay eventually entered ministry in his late teens, joining a Pentecostal church as a pastor in a church in Washington, D.C. where he and wife, Alberta Cooper from North Carolina, raised their family of four children: daughters Jeanne (b. 1937) and Zeola (b. 1945) and sons Marvin, Jr. (1939–1984) and Frankie (1942–2001). After leaving his church, he formed a spin-off sect called the House of God and spent most of his time as a storefront preacher taking his sermons to different churches where he often took his eldest son to sing gospel songs.

Relationship with son

Marvin Gaye later said that, as a child and adolescent, he feared his father often describing him as a "peculiar, tyrannical, powerful king". As he grew older, Gaye adapted a rebellious attitude against his father, often instigating beatings by either messing with his father's hairbrush or chewing a pack of his gum. When he began attending Cardozo High School, Gaye began listening to doo-wop, smoked Menthol cigarettes and skipped home to attend rock 'n' roll concerts by Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson. This angered his father, who had ordered his four children to not do what he regarded as "sinful" including going out to dances or trying out for sports.

Rumors abound in Gaye's biographies that his father was a transvestite and acted very effeminate, leading to gossip around Gaye's neighborhood that he was homosexual. Marvin and his younger brother Frankie would often find themselves defending their father and themselves, often being accused of being homosexual. Bobby Taylor, the younger Gaye's friend from D.C. and himself a Motown star, said that suggestions that Marvin Sr., was homosexual was "ridiculous", often saying "go look in the phone book, I bet you'll find a whole bunch of Gay people then." He was in fact a womanizer who was often physically abusive towards his wife.

In 1956, Marvin Gay, Jr. left home, dropped out of school and enrolled in the United States Air Forces. He eventually returned home from an honorable discharge and later joined The Marquees, which later joined Harvey Fuqua to become "Harvey and the New Moonglows".

In 1961, shortly before releasing his first single, young Marvin altered his last name to Gaye with an e added to it because he felt "it was more professional". Author David Ritz insisted that Gaye also did this to "silent the gossip of his name and to distance himself from his father". Throughout his life, Gaye tried to have a relationship with his father but as his fame grew, the two grew distant.

In 1972, Gaye returned to Washington, D.C. where he was honored with "Marvin Gaye Day". During the ceremony and after a heralded concert performance at the Kennedy Center, Gaye's first in four years following the collapse of late duet partner Tammi Terrell, Marvin said that the day was one of the first times where he felt that he "had made my father proud".

Despite the often stormy and troubling relationship between father and son, Gaye often dedicated some of his famous works to his father, including "God is Love" from his What's Going On album, "Everybody Needs Love" from Here, My Dear, where he states that his father, like him, "needed love", and "Joy", which he dedicated on his father bringing him up in church, Marvin often mentioned how he was influenced by his father's sermons during his concert tours. At one point, Marvin even had his father on with him during a Midnight Special show where Marvin allowed his father to give him advice. After Marvin, Sr. told him that he thought he was "a wonderful person", Gaye embraced his father.

The murder of Marvin Gaye

By the 1970s, Marvin Sr., a longtime alcoholic, had proven to be too difficult to continue his ministry. At this point, his marriage to Alberta grew more contentious. After Marvin moved his parents to a mansion he bought for them in the West Adams district of Los Angeles in 1972, their marriage continued to deteriorate with his drinking.

In 1983, following the end of his erratic final concerts to promote his successful Midnight Love album, Gaye, who was dealing with money issues and drug addiction, moved to his parents' home as he watched over his mother, who was recovering from surgery. After being away for a few months, Marvin Sr. returned to Los Angeles around October 1983.

Upon hearing news his father had sold their family home in Washington without consulting his mother, Marvin kept his distance from his father but was reportedly angry about the decision. The few times father and son came into contact, it nearly exploded in violence. At one point, Marvin Sr. reportedly told Gaye's sister Jeanne that he would "kill" Marvin if he touched him.

On Christmas Day, 1983, Gaye gave his father a .38 to help protect Gaye from what he felt was a building attempt on his murder. Friends and family members later said Gaye giving his father the gun was "a premeditated suicide"; Gaye had made failed suicide attempts a few times in the past.

On the night of March 31, 1984, Marvin, Sr. began arguing with Gaye's mother over a missing insurance policy. At one point, the argument continued into their son's bedroom where, dressed in a maroon robe, Gaye confronted his father to leave his mother alone.

The following morning, April 1, Gaye's parents began arguing again. Gaye's mother was beside her son when the elder Marvin began yelling for her. Gaye told his father to come in his room and talk to Alberta directly. When the elder Gay refused, Gaye yelled, "if you don't ever come in here, don't ever come into my room again". When Marvin Sr. entered, Gaye yelled at him, cursing at him and pushing him out of the room. While at the elder Gay's bedroom, Marvin began kicking him. Alberta said she remembered her husband screaming "he's kicking me, I don't have to take this!"

Alberta rushed in to grab her son's arm and walked him calmly back to his room. Angered at his father, Gaye told his mother, "I'm packing my stuff and getting out of this house, Father hates me and I'm never coming back." A few moments later, Marvin Sr. entered his son's room with the .38 that Gaye had giving him and shot the singer at point blank range to the heart. After Gaye slumped to the edge of the bed, the elder Gay shot him again at point blank range at the shoulder. Gaye's brother Frankie and his sister-in-law Irene were next door when they heard the shots and quickly rushed to the house where Irene eventually got the elder Gay to retrieve his gun while Frankie rushed to console his dying brother, who was clinging to Frankie's arm gasping for air. By the time paramedics took him to the hospital, Gaye was already pronounced dead on arrival. Gaye died the day before his 45th birthday.

Aftermath and death

After Marvin Jr.'s death, Alberta filed for divorce after 47 years of marriage. Marvin, Sr.'s other three children were estranged from their father, as well as Marvin's own children. Marvin Sr. also was noticeably absent from Marvin, Jr.'s star-studded funeral. During his time in jail, when asked if he loved his son, Marvin Sr. said, "well, let's just say that I didn't dislike him."

Originally charged with first-degree murder, the charges were dropped when doctors examined Marvin Sr. and discovered that the then 69-year-old suffered a brain tumor. He agreed to serve five years probation for the crime, after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter. During sentencing, Marvin Sr. tearfully stated to the court that he wished he hadn't killed his son, saying he feared for his safety. His wife later went and lived at their daughter Jeanne's house. Marvin Sr. was later sent to a rest home for the remainder of his life, where he died of pneumonia in Culver City, California on October 10, 1998, just nine days after turning 84.


Death of Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye was an American singer-songwriter and instrumentalist who gained fame in the 1960s as the top-leading male vocalist of Motown Records and went on to become one of the most influential rhythm and blues musicians of the 20th century by the releases of his 1970s albums, What's Going On and Let's Get It On and his 1982 Grammy hit, "Sexual Healing".

Gaye was shot to death by his father, Marvin Gay, Sr., on April 1, 1984 at the West Adams district of Los Angeles at their house at Gramercy Place. Shot twice, once in the heart and another in the shoulder, the first shot proved to be fatal. Gaye was pronounced dead on arrival upon entrance to the California Hospital Medical Center. Following a star-studded funeral on April 5, Gaye was given a burial plot at Forest Lawn Cemetery and was later cremated with his ashes spread around the Pacific Ocean.

Comeback and bouts with addiction and depression

In 1981, Marvin Gaye left London, England following an erratic European tour and a drug paralysis and moved to Ostend, Belgium on the advice of a concert promoter. Gaye enjoyed a brief period of sobriety while at Ostend, and it was in Belgium where he eventually made new plans for his then-dormant music career, in a slump following two ambitiously produced concept albums, Here, My Dear (1978) and In Our Lifetime (1981), the latter album Gaye felt his longtime label Motown rushed to release on purpose.

Gaye ended his turbulent run at Motown in 1982 signing with CBS Records' Columbia division, releasing the successful Midnight Love album that October. Marvin's hit from the album, "Sexual Healing", had not only revived his popularity as a recording artist but also won him his first pair of Grammy Awards in early 1983. Marvin was at first reluctant to leave Belgium but was said to have left abruptly in November 1982 following news his mother was in need of emergency surgery for treatment of bone cancer. Following his return to Los Angeles, Marvin went back to abusing drugs and often contemplated suicide. After a successful but erratic concert tour to promote Midnight Love, Marvin returned to the house he bought for his mother continually battling his drug addiction.

Marvin's father, Marvin Gay, Sr., an ex-minister who reportedly had physically abused Gaye and his three siblings during their childhoods growing up in Washington, D.C., returned to California upon news he had sold his former D.C. home, which was said to have angered the younger Gaye. Marvin's family and friends described Gaye's final months as "tormented". In one instance, Gaye had jumped out of a sports car trying to kill himself.

Meanwhile, Marvin was also contemplating another album with CBS. Several artists including Jermaine Jackson, Dionne Warwick and Barry White will confirm later on that Marvin had talked to them about working with them on the album, which would have been a duets project, his first since 1973's Diana & Marvin, with Diana Ross. Friends say Marvin rarely came out of his room, however, wearing week-worn clothes under a maroon robe, carrying a pistol in his robe pocket and a handgun and using drugs while reading from the Bible and watching pornography on TV. In Christmas of 1983, Gaye gave his father a handgun as a Christmas present reportedly for him to protect Gaye from would-be killers, which friends said added to his paranoid state at the time.

Events leading up to the death

On March 31, 1984, Marvin's parents had a domestic argument over misplaced business documents while Marvin, ill from drug use, lay in bed. Upon hearing this, he woke up and told his dad to leave his mother alone, though neither men physically attacked each other. The next day, April 1, the arguments started again.

According to Marvin's mother, Alberta, Marvin Sr. began yelling at her for a missing insurance policy when Marvin told him to come in his room to talk to her. When Marvin Sr. rejected, Gaye yelled at him to never approach his room again saying "if you don't ever come in now, don't you ever come into my room again".

When Marvin Sr. came in, Gaye got up and pushed his father, later reportedly shoving him to the ground and kicking him. Alberta Gay rushed to her husband's room and got Marvin out of the room. Marvin said to his mother that he was leaving, saying "Mother, I'm going to get my things and get out of this house. Father hates me and I'm never coming back."

A few seconds later, Marvin Sr. returned with the .38 that Gaye had given him and shot the singer at point blank range in his heart, later shooting him a second time in the shoulder, again at point blank range.

Marvin's brother Frankie and his wife, Irene, were next door when Irene heard the shots. When Irene rushed outside, she saw Marvin's mother screaming for help saying "he shot my son!" Frankie ran upstairs to see his dying brother struggling to breathe, while Irene called 911. Paramedics arrived to find Marvin Sr. sitting on the front porch. They demanded to see the gun before they would enter the house. Irene found it under Marvin Sr.'s pillow and threw it on the lawn. Upon arriving, the police quickly arrested Marvin Sr.


Gaye was pronounced dead on arrival upon his entry to the California Hospital Medical Center at 1:10 pm PST, dying a day before his 45th birthday (April 2). Fans and neighbors of Marvin's crowded around the scene of the crime shortly after hearing the news.

Four days later, on April 5, Gaye was given a star-studded funeral, attended by over 10,000 mourners, including his Motown colleagues Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Motown CEO Berry Gordy, who was at one point, Gaye's brother-in-law. The singer's two ex-wives Anna Gordy Gaye and Janis Gaye and his three children, Marvin P. Gaye III, 18; Nona Gaye, 9; and Frankie "Bubby" Gaye, 8; also attended the funeral. Gaye had an open casket funeral led by one of his ministers from his Pentecostal church. Shortly afterwards, the singer's remains were cremated and Marvin's children and his ex-wife Anna spread his ashes at the Pacific Ocean.

Around the same time, police interviewed Marvin Sr. on the events leading up to his son's murder. When asked if he loved his son, Marvin Sr. reportedly took his time before finally answering, "let's just say I didn't dislike him". Shortly after his arrest, Marvin Sr. was examined by doctors, who discovered a "walnut-sized tumor in his pituitary gland, in the base of his brain". Despite this, Marvin Sr. was declared competent to stand for trial.

During a pre-hearing, it was revealed that Marvin Sr. was brutally injured in his final fight with Gaye. After much contention, the prosecution and Marvin Sr.'s defense team agreed to enter a plea of voluntary manslaughter, in which he received a five-year sentence of probation. During the sentencing, a more apologetic Marvin Sr. told the court that he regretted killing his son.

Shortly after their son's death, Alberta Gay filed for divorce from Marvin Sr. after 49 years of marriage. Marvin Sr., then 69 years old at the time of his son's death, continued to live in the Gramercy house until eventually he was sent to a rest home in Culver City, California, where he eventually died of pneumonia on October 10, 1998 at the age of 84.

Marvin, who was in debt at the time of his death, reportedly left no will. In his autobiography, Marvin's friend Bobby Womack said he gave some money for Marvin's second ex-wife, Janis to help try to cover up Marvin's financial ruins leading to the death.

Tributes and reevaluation of Marvin's music

A day after Marvin's death, British rock group Duran Duran dedicated the song "Save A Prayer" to Gaye; later on that year, R&B singer Teena Marie recorded the song, "My Dear Mr. Gaye" with Gaye's 1970s collaborator, Leon Ware. A year afterwards, two tribute songs, Diana Ross' "Missing You" and The Commodores' "Nightshift", were released to national acclaim, both reaching number-one on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart while also reaching the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100.

That same year, David Ritz released the biography, Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, which quickly became a national best-seller upon its release. In 1984 Columbia and Motown re-released Marvin's popular records, What's Going On, Let's Get It On, and Midnight Love on the charts. The following year, the labels, with help from Marvin's friend Harvey Fuqua and his brother-in-law, Gordon Banks, released two works featuring unreleased Marvin material, Dream of a Lifetime and Romantically Yours.

In 1987, Gaye was posthumously inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Ashford & Simpson, Gaye's frequent collaborators in the 1960s during his duets with Tammi Terrell. Two years later, another tribute song, "Silky Soul", was released by Frankie Beverly & Maze, a group Marvin had mentored and had allowed to open for him during a 1977 tour. In 1994, Motown re-released more of Gaye's works, including 1976's I Want You, 1978's Here, My Dear, and 1981's In Our Lifetime. All three albums were critically reevaluated by music critics who hailed the former two albums as landmark masterpieces in Gaye's career.

Marvin's What's Going On (1971), Let's Get It On (1973), I Want You (1976), Here, My Dear (1978) and Midnight Love (1982) albums have been on several best-of lists over the years while rock critic Dave Marsh declared Marvin's international number-one 1968 hit, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" as the greatest song in rock history. In 1996, Gaye was given another posthumous honor with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The singer was honored in song by Seal and Annie Lennox. In 1990, Gaye was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, six years after his death. In his 2008 album, Something Else, Robin Thicke mentioned Marvin's death in the song, "Dreamworld" with the lyric "I would say, Marvin Gaye, your father didn't want you to die."

Since his death and the release of Divided Soul, three more books, Steve Turner's Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye, brother Frankie's My Brother, Marvin and Michael Eric Dyson's Mercy Mercy Me: The Art, Life and Demons of Marvin Gaye have been released. Two planned films on the singer's life are also in the works.


The death of Marvin Gaye

For showbiz purposes, Marvin added an e to his last name. His family remained Gay. Snicker, snicker.

By the time 1984 rolled around, Marvin was on a train ride to hell. He owed a lot of money to the IRS, and he was in the midst of a downward spiral of drug addiction and abuse. He wasn't able to hold on to a relationship, and was becoming increasingly more paranoid. He told his musicians that he was being stalked by murderers, and began wearing a bullet-proof vest.

On April 1, 1984, Marvin was staying in his parent's house, in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. The house is still there, on Gramercy. He was strung out, doing loads of cocaine and spent hours watching porn videos in his bedroom. He was wearing a maroon bathrobe that he'd been wearing for days. He carried a pistol in the pocket of his robe, and had a small arsenal under his bed. He was convinced that someone was going to kill him. 

I have to preface the next part by saying that according to most published sources, Marvin had a turbulent-at-best relationship with his father, Marvin Gay, Sr. They say that the senior Gay abused Marvin as a child, and resented his fame and glory, yet lived off the profits. What follows are quotes from Marvin's mother, Alberta:

"That morning, my husband (Gay Sr.) came walking through my bathroom door, and asked me where he could find this insurance letter. I couldn't hear him very well, so Marvin asked him to come into the room where we were. My husband said no, he wouldn't come in the room."

Marvin told him, ''If you don't come in now, don't you ever come into my room again.''

"Then my husband came in the room. Marvin told him to get out, and got up from the bed, walked over to my husband, and pushed him back. Marvin pushed him a couple of times. My husband turned and walked back to his bedroom. Marvin followed him, yelling little cuss words at him. Marvin told his father, ''I'll beat you up.''

Both of them went into the father's room. "I didn't see what happened in the bedroom," related Alberta, "I heard my husband say, He's kicking me. I don't have to take that.''

"When I entered the room, my husband was on the floor, and Marvin was standing a short distance away. I took Marvin by the arm and led him back to his room. I sat him on the foot of the bed. Marvin told me, "Mother, I'm going to get my things and get out of this house. Father hates me and I'm never coming back."

"I was standing about eight feet away from Marvin, when my husband came to the door of the bedroom with his pistol. My husband didn't say anything, he just pointed the gun at Marvin. I screamed but it was very quick. He, my husband, shot - and Marvin screamed. I tried to run. Marvin slid down to the floor after the first shot."

The first 38-caliber slug had entered his right chest at a 30 degree downward angle, perforating the right lung, heart, diaphragm, liver, stomach, and left kidney before coming to rest against his left flank. It was immediately fatal.

Gay Sr. stepped forward and fired again at point-blank range. He then went downstairs to the front porch, threw the pistol out onto the lawn and sat down to await police.

Marvin Gaye Jr. was taken to the California Hospital Medical Center, and pronounced dead at 1:01 PM. It was one day before his 45th birthday.

Gay Sr. was arrested, and soon, crowds of eager spectators gathered in front of the house.

Marvin's body was taken from the hospital to Forest Lawn Glendale, where more than 10,000 people passed his open casket. He was dressed in a gold and white military uniform, one of his costumes from his final tour. A brown weasel (Yes, a weasel, okay well, ermine. Same diff. By the way, don't you hate when people say "Same difference?" It's almost as bad as "It was like Déjà vu all over again." Man, I hate that. Sorry, this isn't about me, is it?) wrap was around his shoulders.

Stevie Wonder sang at the service, Smokey Robinson spoke, as did Dick Gregory (Marvin was a big fan). Gaye's mother, ex wives and three kids were there too. His mom bent over the casket and kissed Marvin's cheek. After the service, he was cremated, and his family scattered his ashes at sea.

In prison, Gay Sr. was asked if he loved his son. His reply was, "Let's say that I didn't dislike him." Charming. Upon examination, doctors found a walnut-size tumor in his pituitary gland, at the base of his brain. There was no way of knowing how long it was there, or if it affected his behavior.

In June, he was ruled competent to stand trial. His wife sued for divorce, and moved in with her daughter.

In the trial, the jury examined photographs of Gay Sr.'s body, and there were bruises. The Judge, Ronald M. George accepted a no contest plea of voluntary manslaughter with a gun. On November 2nd, he was sentenced to five years probation.

Mrs. Gay died three years later, of bone cancer. Marvin Gay Sr. died in October of 1998. I'll bet Marvin is kickin' his ass right now.



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