- William Carney
musician. Marvin Gaye was born Marvin Pentz Gaye Jr. in 1939 in Washington, D.C. His father, a postal worker, was also the preacher in a storefront Pentecostal church known locally for the quality of the music at its services and for its somewhat unusual beliefs (for example, prohibitions on dancing and a rigid observance of the Jewish high holy days). His father was a violent man and frequently beat Marvin, his brother, and two sisters for seemingly minor infractions. Dropping out of high school at age seventeen to escape an unhappy family situation, Marvin joined the U.S. Air Force. He served less than a year; after a discharge for problems with adjusting to military discipline, he joined the Marquees, a “doo-wop” vocal group, and later he became a member of the Moonglows, one of the most influential vocal quintets of the 1950s.
After the Moonglows disbanded Gaye and ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.