Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

Sexual Healing

Gaye had begun freebasing cocaine in Europe. His indulgent lifestyle had become so over the top that he openly smoked the drug during a series of interviews he gave to promote the new Motown record.

During an interview with Blues and Soul magazine, a writer asked Gaye how he wished to be remembered. He replied, "As one of, if not the greatest, artist to walk the face of the earth."

He gave another interview at his apartment in Ostend, Belgium, to David Ritz, an old acquaintance with whom Gaye had discussed writing a book.

Gaye's apartment was littered with sadomasochistic magazines and other twisted pornography. The writer suggested Gaye needed "sexual healing."

Ritz wrote, "It was my way of suggesting what I believed he needed, a reconciliation of the confusion, fostered in childhood, between pleasure and pain."

But the advice struck Gaye as a good hook for a song title. In a lucid moment he scrawled out lyrics and adapted them to a slow, reggae-style instrumental track composed by keyboardist Odell Brown, one of his sidemen.

CBS rushed "Sexual Healing" out as a single, and it became the best-selling soul hit since the dawn of disco. A month later, the company released the tune on a rushed LP, "Midnight Love."

In a series of interviews, Marvin Gaye posed as a master of love, romance and sex. He told the Los Angeles Times people should follow his lead. He said, "What they need is to live out their sexual fantasies... Everybody would be happier and less crazy if they could do what they wanted to sexually."

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