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The List: 5 facts about Marvin Gaye

Singer Kenny Lattimore performs Marvin Gaye’s hit song “Got to Give It Up”
Singer Kenny Lattimore performs Marvin Gaye’s hit song “Got to Give It Up” during last week’s stamp dedication ceremony.

To help mark the release of the Marvin Gaye stamp last week, here are five facts about the influential singer:

1. Marvin added the “e” to his last name. Gaye was born Marvin Pentz Gay (with no “e”) Jr. in Washington, DC, in 1939. When he became an adult, he added the vowel to his last name.

2. He became known as the “Prince of Soul.” When Gaye began his career, he wanted to be a singer like Frank Sinatra, and his first album was a collection of standards. It wasn’t until he started singing with some edge to his voice that he saw success with songs like “Stubborn Kind of Fellow.”

3. Gaye was a Detroit legend, but not a Detroit Lion. After friend and fellow performer Tammi Terrell died of brain cancer in 1970, Gaye considered giving up music to play football for the Detroit Lions as a wide receiver. Coach Joe Schmidt wouldn’t let him try out, though, because he didn’t want to put Gaye in harm’s way.

4. He was a video pioneer. Gaye’s performance of the national anthem at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game was the first music video played on VH1 when it began broadcasting Jan. 1, 1985.

5. The new stamp isn’t Gaye’s only postal connection. A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Karen Bass of California to rename a Los Angeles Post Office after Gaye was signed into law in 2018.

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