Cover image for Trouble man : the life and death of Marvin Gaye
Trouble man : the life and death of Marvin Gaye
Turner, Steve, 1949-
Personal Author:
First Ecco Press edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ecco Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
ix, 259 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : M. Joseph, 1998.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML420.G38 T87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
ML420.G38 T87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
ML420.G38 T87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
ML420.G38 T87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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Marvin Gaye was a twentieth-century icon, one of our greatest pop singers.He made his name with the Motown sound of the sixties, but went on to become a musical revolutionary with the release of What's Going On -- an album that tuoched on war, ecology, racism, violence, and poverty. It perfactly capured the spirit of the times and changed people's perceptions of what soul music could achieve. Behind the songs, however, Gaye's was a troubled life: drug dependency, tortured personal relationships, and ongoing financal and legal difficulties led inexorably to the final fatel meeting with his father. Since his tragic death, his stature has increased rather than diminished. His musical legacy has endured that his popularity and influnce will endure and continue to win new generations of fans. Trouble Man, based on exhausive and exclusive new research, is the definitive story of the turbulent life and violent death of an American icon. Steve Turner probes beyond the undying magic of songs like"I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "What's Going On," and "Sexual Healing" to trace the jagged contours of Gaye's life and examine the man behind the legend. Turner's detailed exploration of Gaye's childhood and his relationship with his family, his religious upbringing, and his meteoric professional success and ultimate descent into drug abuse and financial instability offers a new look at a beloved American musician.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The title of this rock bio could refer to no one other than Gaye. As a dependable hit maker for Motown Records in its heyday, Gaye could stray from the house formula in such late `60s songs as "Trouble Man," "Mercy Mercy Me," and "What's Goin' On." His transition to a more personal and complex musical style proved successful, which makes his 1984 death by gunshot at the hands of his father puzzling. Turner tells Gaye's story with a restraint that is odd for a showbiz bio with a tragic climax. Cocaine and the other trappings of megastar hedonism overtook Gaye, of course, but Turner digs deep to serve an impressive helping of the ingredients that make pop-star bios as riveting as gruesome highway accidents. Sure, the drugs were front and center, but financial woes plagued Gaye, too, and his personal life was seemingly in endless uproar. He exploded one day, and his father shot him to subdue him. Better than fiction, Gaye's story is for both true-crime and pop-music mavens. --Mike Tribby

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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.Ă„Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.