Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

Let's Get it On

While Gaye had built a musical persona as the ultimate lover, his real love life was a wreck.

His April-November marriage to Anna Gordy had been tempestuous from the start and included physical violence.

Marvin said, "We came to blows on more than one occasion, and I'm going to tell you something: Anna could hold her own."

The couple had failed to conceive a child so in 1965 had faked a pregnancy, with Anna wearing maternity clothes and Marvin bragging about the upcoming birth. On her due date they adopted a son they named Marvin III.

The ruse was planned by Marvin, apparently shamed by the lack of manliness that adoption might imply.

Anna and Marvin split up frequently, and both had many lovers during their decade together. Marvin had begun indulging himself in pornography and had a recurring sexual fantasy about a promiscuous young woman who took on many lovers while he watched.

According to Motown legend, Marvin was in the studio recording the title track to his 1973 album, "Let's Get it On," when a teenager named Janice Hunter walked into the control room. Janice was an aspiring singer, and she had begged her father, a co-producer of the record, to introduce her to Gaye.

Marvin said it was lust at first sight. Hunter, he said, was "the figure in my fantasy come to life." He said he recorded "Let's Get it On" while looking in young Hunter's eyes.

And they got it on.

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