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Hal Leonard


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Pioneer in social activism on many levels, led by million selling single "What's Going On"

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One of the most important artists to come out of Motown, Gaye first wrote songs for other artists including “Beechwood 4-5789” (1962) for The Marvelettes and “Dancing in the Street” for Martha and the Vandellas, then cut his own compositions like the classic hits “Hitch Hike,” “Pride and Joy, “Let’s Get It On” and the Grammy-winning “Sexual Healing,” Breaking new ground with his 1971 concept album What’s Going On, which included the antiwar titletrack, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and “Inner City Bluesԗand earned him Rolling Stone’s “Album of the Year” designation. Gaye also had hits penned by other songwriting legends including “Ain’t That Peculiar” (Smokey Robinson), “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) (Holland-Dozier-Holland),” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong), and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” among the songs written by Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson that became duet hits for Gaye and Tammi Terrell.


Gaye had originally been a member of the late 1950s R&B vocal group the Marquees, which later replaced departed members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group The Moonglows and became Harvey and the New Moonglows. The group was led by Harvey Fuqua, who introduced Gaye to Motown founder Berry Gordy, who eventually signed him to the label. At Motown he also recorded duets with Mary Wells, Kim Weston and Diana Ross, and earned the titles “Prince of Motown” and “Prince of Soul.” But with What’s Going On he took on political and social issues like the Vietnam War, drugs, inequality, the economy and the environment while incorporating jazz, pop and classical music…

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