Thursday, May 05, 2011

Marvin Gaye Exhibit to Debut at Motown Historical Museum

May 5, 2011

Marvin Gaye exhibit to debut Friday at Motown Historical Museum

Detroit News Music Writer

Detroit— This afternoon, the Motown Historical Museum gave the press and VIPs a sneak peek at its new Marvin Gaye exhibit, the first one devoted entirely to one of the Detroit label's most enduring and popular stars.

The Gaye exhibit, which opens Friday, had been in the pipeline for years, but it was postponed after Michael Jackson's death in 2009, when a Jackson display was hurriedly put together for grieving fans.

The Gaye exhibit includes unique photographs of the star in both public and private moments, albums and singles, memorabilia and two military-style stage uniforms from the 1970s.

The largest display is a giant mural of the "In Our Lifetime" album cover, which depicts the troubled singer's divided soul, one "Marvin" is an angel and the other is a devil, facing each other.

There are small details that take a close look to see; chief curator Lina Stephens points out the insignias on the costumes; "M" on the pocket of one jacket with a crown over it, "G" with a crown over it on another jacket.

While Michael Jackson famously dressed in military-style tunics over the years, Gaye was there first. "Michael got the idea from seeing Marvin wearing these," said Stephens.

Gaye first came to Motown in 1960, in tow with Harvey Fuqua who had incorporated him into his group Harvey & the Moonglows in the late '50s. At Motown, Gaye quickly found a place as both a musician (playing drums) but most notably, as the suave solo singer of "Ain't That Peculiar," "I'll Be Doggone," "Hitchhike" and other early '60s hits.

The singer was also teamed with Tammi Terrell, with whom he recorded a string of gorgeous duets. His most enduring Motown music has to be his version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," and his masterpiece, "What's Going On."

Haunted by depression and drug problems, Gaye died tragically in 1984 after his father shot and killed him after an argument in Los Angeles.

He famously tried out for the Detroit Lions in the '60s, and there are several photos of Gaye taking part in sports; playing football with his boss, Berry Gordy Jr., and Smokey Robinson at a Motown picnic. Other photos from Motown's deep archive include shots of Gaye wearing Buddy Holly-style black glasses during rehearsals with Terrell, and one of him, deep in thought, sitting on the stairway of the Kresge Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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