Dubbed as the ‘Prince of Motown’, Marvin Gaye was a celebrated singer-songwriter. He fronted the growth of soul during the ‘60’s to ‘80’s with his add-on vocal ‘growl’ and selling to a mass audience. As well as his signature vocal range Marvin Gaye also played digital piano and percussion.
‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ On The Digital Piano
1967 saw the release of ‘Grapevine’ in which a horror-based Wurlitzer Organ solo playing the opening motif as a repeated riff:
Eb Eb Gb Eb, Eb Eb Gb F x 4
With the falsetto octave leaps from Gaye during the verses coupled with the unusual scoring of digital piano settings, upper strings, percussion and brass later in the track – this version of the song offered a new bent that paved the way for a new kind of soul. The music was later used in the 1985 Levi Jeans advert set in a Launderette where ‘taking your kit off’ went to a new height and sales of the revival sound soared!
Feeding A Need
Marvin Gaye grew up singing from the age of four whether it was in the church accompanied by his father on the digital piano or doo-wop bands. He said of his music-making that he did it to ‘’feed the needs of people’’ and help them through the bad times.
He had a great empathy with his audience conveyed through his rasping voice and emotive lyrics. These were often taken from slavery scenarios and everyday happenings.
‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ On The Digital Piano by Marvin Gaye
This track was sung by Marvin Gaye in 1967 when he duetted with Tammi Terrell. Its pop feel also came to the attention of a different generation through Whoopi Goldberg in the film ‘Sister Act’. The introduction begins with double stacked chords on the digital piano backed in the rhythm section by a bass guitar riff and kit. At bar 8 the brass enters to open the chorus:
‘’Ain’t no moun-tain high e-nough, ain’t no vall-ey low e-nough’’ etc
C C C C Bb Bb G, C C C C Bb Bb G,
Marvin Gaye was taken too soon from this wold. Dubbed the ‘Prince of Motown’ for his unique vocals and empathetic storyline – and rightly so. Long may he reign. Jr