Friday, January 10, 2020

Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

Category: Books,Arts & Photography,Music

Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye Details

From Publishers Weekly Originally published in the U.K. in 1998, this biography surveys the ups and downs of Marvin Gaye's life, taking an admiring but not enamored stance concerning the Motown singer's contribution to American music. London-based music writer Turner presents an exciting profile, regardless of the reader's prior knowledge of the soul legend. Gaye was born in 1939 in Washington, D.C., and raised with his father Marvin Sr.'s strong religious beliefs he sang in church at age two but he was also plagued by his father's mistreatment of his mother and general ultra-strict demeanor. The dysfunctional upbringing would have devastating effects later in Gaye's life. He believed he was chosen by God to sing, and kept this view throughout his life, despite what Turner depicts as his subsequent straying from morality and purity. Gaye's first album, in 1961, flopped (it was deemed too jazzy), and he turned to profitable and popular R & B at the urging of agents and producers, coupled with introductions to Smokey Robinson and others. An illustrious musical career ensued, highlighted with hits like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "Sexual Healing." But for this "trouble man," even bright moments of fame and success were merely shades away from distress. He began spontaneous romances despite lingering bitterness from previous relationships, gave lavish concerts while struggling to pay alimony to his ex-wives and projected a thriving, happy image to the world while he battled with serious drug dependency. The author comprehensively presents Gaye's decline and fall (including his 1984 murder by his father), offering equal amounts of musical data and personal anecdotes. Two 8-page b&w photo inserts. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. Read more From Library Journal Music journalist Turner (Van Morrison: Too Late To Stop Now) conducted thorough research and scores of interviews to write this tragic story of one of Motown's greatest stars. Gaye was a multifaceted, angel-voiced artist who lived his entire life tormented by a dysfunctional relationship with his father, culminating in his being shot to death by Marvin Sr. in 1984. Unfortunately for Turner, Trouble Man has to compete with David Ritz's highly regarded Divided Soul (LJ 5/15/85), which benefits from extensive interviews with Gaye himself and with both of his parents, access that time and circumstance deny Turner. Yet the intervening 15 years have also helped Turner, who is able to divulge the true identity of the mother of Gaye's first son (a secret Gaye kept from Ritz). Turner also supplies an up-to-date discography and listings of television and concert appearances. Trouble Man is solid but ultimately lacks the depth that Gaye's involvement provides Divided Soul, making it a complement to, but not a replacement for, Ritz's book.ALloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. Read more See all Editorial Reviews


Despite the involving history of its freakishly dualistic and tragic subject, author Turner misses the mark here. After catchingx a couple of filmed performances from late in Gaye's career on cable - a thrilling rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at a Lakers Game and an incandescent in-concert performance of "Sexual Healing", I realized how completely the author fails to convey the Gaye's mastery of his art . Both of these performances came after an extended period of slumping sales and inactivity and marked a final, ultimately failed attempt at a rally. Yet these brilliant appearances get scant mention in the book. As does Marvin's breakthrough appearance in the T.A.M.I. Show lineup. Often quotes by family and associates are riddled with Britishisms (the author is English) that are incongruously sprinkled into the speech of these urban African Americans. I believe that when biography writers take broad liberties in paraphrasing the words of those he interviews, it calls into question the overall accuracy of their work. (Couldn't the guy have used a tape recorder?) The book is riddled with minor errors of fact. For example, Turner refers to a town as being in "Upper California" and he often gets the names of venues wrong. I plan to read David Ritz's biography in the hope that he has done a better job in recounting this tragic soul man's life and work.


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