THE SATURDAY MORNING SONG CHRONICLES - PAGE 26

--Paul B Allen III: November 2, 2019

MARVIN GAYE - "THE PRINCE OF MOTOWN"

Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees had a nickname. They called him “The Iron Horse.” Why? According to the website, GermanHeritage.com, “Gehrig was known as the Iron Horse because he established a record for the number of consecutive games played by a professional baseball player, appearing in 2130 consecutive games from 1925 to 1939.” Yes, it was because of his consistency that Gehrig was called the Iron Horse. And his record stood for over fifty years! 

If I had a “fantasy” musical team, Marvin Gaye would be my “Iron Horse.” From his first hit record in 1962 to his last hit record in 1982, he, according to Wikipedia, “…recorded sixty-seven charted singles on the Billboard charts, with forty-one reaching the top forty, eighteen reaching the top ten and three peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Sixty of his singles reached the top forty of the R&B charts, with thirty-eight of those reaching the top ten and thirteen peaking at number one.” 

But here is the kicker. My mouth dropped open, literally, when I began compiling those singles and started plugging in the dates those recordings came out. As I was typing, I thought, “OMG! I had no idea!” 

Look at how many hit records he had IN A YEAR. There were a few years when he had only one or two hit records (and any artist on the planet would be ecstatic to have even one hit record a year), but there were years in which Marvin Gaye had three, four, five, even six hit records in the same year! 

And look at the years themselves. From 1962 he had hit records every single year until 1975 when he was touring so heavily that he could not get back into the studio. Considering the fact that he had five hit records in the previous twenty-four months, that was understandable. 

But again, this list made me reflect on the greatness of Marvin Gaye. 

I remembered my grandmother being completely infatuated with Marvin, and her playing his songs. I mean, she was in love! I was still a little kid at that time. 

But, then I remembered that Marvin had hits when I was a young man. And he had hits when I was married. And he had hits when my son was born. And he was still producing hits ten years later, not long before my daughter was born! 

He had hits as a solo act and he had hits doing duets with various Motown female artists, including Diana Ross, Mary Wells, Kim Weston, and Tammi Terrell.

Marvin Gaye was himself a hit-making machine. He was so low-keyed that I never realized he was pumping out so many hit songs! He was like a deadly silent assassin who let his music speak for itself. 

Check out this list of hits songs he put out and as you read these song titles it will start to come back to you. “Oh, yeah, I remember this song. Wait, I remember this one too.” Like me, you will realize that Marvin Gaye has always been there through the events of our lives until the day he was no more. 

Remembering that the definition of a “hit record” is a song that places in the Top 40 on the Pop Charts, here are the hits of Marvin Gaye. Please remember, these are only the bonafide hits. He had several other charted recordings as well. 

 Here they are in chronological order and their peak numbers on the Pop charts. 

1962 – “Hitchhike” #30 

1963 – “Pride and Joy” #10 

1963 – “Can I Get a Witness” #22 

1964 – “You’re a Wonderful One” #15 

1964 – “Once Upon A Time” (Duet with Mary Wells) #19 

1964 – “What’s the Matter With You Baby” (Duet with Mary Wells) #17 

1964 – “Try It Baby” #15 

1964 – “Baby, Don’t You Do It” #27 

1964 – “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” #6 

1965 – “I’ll Be Doggone #8 

1965 – “Pretty Little Baby” #25 

1965 – “Ain’t That Peculiar #8 

1966 – “One More Heartache” #29 

1966 – “It Takes Two” (Duet with Kim Weston) #14 

1967 – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Duet with Tammi Terrell) #19 

1967 – “Your Unchanging Love” - #33 

1967 – “Your Precious Love” (Duet with Tammi Terrell) #5 

1967 – “You” #34 

1967 – “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” (Duet with Tammi Terrell) #10 

1968 – “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” (Duet With Tammi Terrell) #8 

1968 – “You’re All I Need To Get By” (Duet with Tammi Terrell) #7 

1968 – “Chained” #32 

1968 – “Keep On Lovin Me Honey” (Duet with Tammi Terrell) #24 

1968 – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” #1 Pop, Soul, and United Kingdom 

1969 – “Good Loving Ain’t Easy To Come By” (Duet with Tammi Terrell) #30 

1969 – “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” #4 

1969 – “That’s The Way Love Is” #7 

1970 – “The End of Our Road” #40 

1971 – “What’s Going On” #2 

1971 – “Mercy, Mercy, Me” #4 

1971 – “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” #9 

1972 – “Trouble Man” #7 

1973 – “Let’s Get It On” #1 

1973 “You’re A Special Part of Me” (Duet with Diana Ross) #12 

1973 – “Come Get To This” #21 

1974 – “My Mistake (Was To Love You)” (A Duet with Diana Ross) #19 

1974 – “Distant Lover” #28 

1976 – “I Want You” #15 

1977 – “Got To Give It Up” (Part 1) #1 

1982 – “Sexual Healing” #3 

Marvin Gaye died on April 1, 1984, one day before his birthday. He was forty-four years old. He spent nearly half his life putting out hit recordings. 

Marvin Gaye, “The Prince of Motown” was also the "Iron Horse" of music. 

Before we knew Marvin Gaye as a solo artist, he was a member of the group, Harvey and the New Moonglows. Marvin had his first-ever recorded lead vocal with that group on a song named “Mama Loochie.” Enjoy this rare video clip, followed by the others being shared today, and you will hear where Marvin began and see how much he grew over time.

Thanks for joining us today. We hope to see you back here again next week for another Saturday Morning Song Chronicles.