Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

The Postmortem

Funeral Procession
Funeral Procession

Everybody pointed fingers and offered theories after Gaye was dead.

Jeanne Gay said, "In the past Father had made it very clear that if Marvin were to strike him, he'd murder him. Father said so publicly on more than one occasion."

Gaye's bodyguard, Andre White, told author Turner that the case was in effect a suicide. He said, "He wanted to die, but he couldn't do it himself. He got his daddy to do it."

Dr. Ronald Markman, a psychiatrist who examined Marvin Gay, Sr., had his own idea about the shooting.

"I believe that people kill basically because they're humiliated," he told Turner. "It's not a question of whether you're a pacifist, a minister or a rabbi. It's a question of whether you are capable of being humiliated and whether you are able to deal with that humiliation short of the need to destroy. That day Marvin had humiliated his dad by knocking him down. So you have a 45-year-old man hitting a 70-year-old man. He was knocked to the ground. He got up without a word but he went and got a gun and returned to kill him."

In a jailhouse interview a week after the slaying, Marvin, Sr. explained the slaying to the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.

"I pulled the trigger," he said. "The first one didn't seem to bother him. He put his hand up to his face, like he'd been hit with a BB. And then I fired again. I was backing towards my room. I was going to go in there and lock the door. This time I heard him say, 'Oh,' and I saw him going down. I do know that I did fire the gun. I was just trying to keep him back off me. I want the world to know it wasn't presumptuous on my part."

Asked if he loved his son, Marvin, Sr. chose his words carefully before saying, "Let's say that I didn't dislike him."

About 10,000 people attended the funeral, led by the Chief Apostle of the House of God, his father's old church. Stevie Wonder sang, and Smokey Robinson and Dick Gregory gave readings. Gaye was laid to rest wearing a costume from his final tour — a gold-and-white military-style uniform, with an ermine wrap at his shoulders.

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