On April 2nd 1939 in Washington
D.C., Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr.
was born as the second of three children (1 brother and two
sisters). His father, the Reverend Marvin Gay, Sr., was an ordained minister
in The House of God, an conservative Christian sect which fuses orthodox
Judaism and Pentecostalism. As gospel music was part of
his upbringing, he joined the singing choir at the age of three, quickly
rising to become a choir soloist. He learned to play the drums and the
piano, and music became a means to escape his verbally and physically abusive father Marvin Senior.
After graduation Marvin enlisted in the U.S. Air
Force. After his discharge he returned to Washington where he joined some
local music groups, eventually joining The Rainbows, which was local top
group. Singer Harvey Fuque asked The Rainbows to join as a backing
ensemble for his group The Moonglows, for which Marvin had to move to
Chicago. During a tour visiting Detroit, Marvin Gaye caught the
attention of the promotor Berry
., who quickly signed him to the
Motown Label in 1961.