Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

Marquees & Moonglows

Bo Diddley
Bo Diddley

Doo-wop was the rage when Marvin returned to Washington, and the D.C. Tones retooled as the Marquees, a vocal harmony group with surname-tweaked Marvin Gaye as lead tenor.

The group played teen gigs, sock hops and battles of the bands. At one show they caught the eye of Bo Diddley, a Washington-based musician who was gaining a national reputation with his unique percussive guitar sound.

Diddley was enthused by the Marquees' smooth vocals, and he offered to produce their first record, a two-sided single of "Hey Little School Girl" and "Wyatt Earp" recorded in New York with Diddley's backup band.

In 1958 Diddley was doing a show with the Moonglows, a Chicago-based Chess Records act that had a series of R&B hits, including "Sincerely." Harvey Fuqua, the leader, mentioned he was auditioning for a new lead tenor.

Harvey Fuqua
Harvey Fuqua

Diddley encouraged Fuqua to consider Gaye. Fuqua listened to the Marquees on his next trip through Washington and promptly hired Gaye and his bandmates to replace the Moonglows.

Gaye left Washington for Chicago, where he sang backup on Chess records for Etta James and Chuck Berry when he wasn't touring with the Moonglows. He sang lead on one minor Moonglows hit, "Mama Loochie."

Meanwhile, Fuqua, an astute businessman, was hip to a burgeoning sound in Detroit that he reckoned might supplant doo-wop. Fuqua was acquainted with key figures in that scene, the Gordy family, with parents who had prospered in the nightclub and real estate businesses.

In 1960 Fuqua took Marvin Gaye, his musical prodigy, to Detroit to meet the Gordys and their ambitious children.

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