Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

To the Beach

A few weeks later, Gaye fled to Hawaii for what he later called "one long nervous breakdown." For a time, he lived in a van on the beach.

When he ran out of money, he begged his mother to hock diamonds he had given her and send him the cash for toot. He also begged money from pals Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Wally (Famous) Amos, the cookiemaker.

"I'd given up," he told Ritz. "The problems were too big for me. I just wanted to be left alone to blow my brains away with high-octane toot. It would be a slow but relatively pleasant death, certainly less messy than a gun."

He said at one point he snorted an ounce of coke in an hour, then called his mother to say goodbye, certain he would die of an overdose. He didn't.

Janice, his newly estranged second wife, went to try to bring Gaye down to earth. But their reunion became another bout of physical abuse, this time featuring a knife, which he held at her heart.

Gaye said, "I wanted to kill her. I almost did. I wanted to kill myself, but I didn't have the guts."

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