How much was Marvin Gaye worth?

Net Worth:-$9 Million
Profession:Professional Singer
Date of Birth:April 2, 1939
Country:United States of America
1.85 m

Who Is Marvin Gaye

The son of a preacher who ministered to a obscure and conservative Christian sect, Marvin sang in the choir at an early age, and, like many of his peers, formed a doo-wop group (The Marquees). That group was soon hired by Harvey Fuqua to be his backing vocalists, the Moonglows; after their dissolution, Marvin followed Fuqua to Detroit, where he met Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records. Gordy soon signed Gay to a contract, although he was merely a session drummer at first.

American singer, songwriter, and record producer Marvin Gaye had a net worth of -$9 million dollars at the time of his death, in 1984. Gaye is likely best known for his hit song “Let’s Get It On” yet this artist essentially shaped the sound of Motown in the 1960s and is one of the best-known artists to have ever lived.


After adding an “e” to his last name (a tribute to idol Sam Cooke, who had done the same thing), and enduring a few flops, Marvin hit with “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” in 1962. From there, he crafted a sexy image that established him as Motown’s leading man, which garnered him a number of solo hits and duets with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, and Tammi Terrell. Gaye considered himself a pop-vocal balladeer at heart, but he could hardly leave the label, married as he was to Gordy’s sister, Anna.

Financial Troubles

Despite Marvin Gaye being recognized today as one of the most iconic singer-songwriters, ever. With songs like Let’s Get It On’s melody impossible not to shift your consciousness. He died with debts of almost $9 million dollars, most owed to the IRS in the form of unpaid taxes. Before his death he was living with his parents, had sold most of his music royalty rights to Motown Records and was earning essentially nothing. The few royalties that he was entitled to and earned by his estate after his death, were eventually all received by the IRS to the tune of about $1 million dollars per year.

Early Career

After singing with a number of regional groups, including the Marquees and the Moonglows, Marvin became a solo artist. While in Detroit, he happened to meet Tamla/Motown Records head Berry Gordy at the label’s annual Christmas party and impressed Gordy by singing and playing piano at the gathering. During his early days with Motown, he was assigned work as a studio session drummer, and was mentored by Smokey Robinson and others. He was the drummer on many early Motown hits, including the Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman,” Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street,” and Stevie Wonder‘s “Fingertips.”

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With Tammi

Marvin’s first few singles for Motown were flops, partially because his early material was more jazz and blues influenced. The late 1962 R&B; song “Hitch Hike” was his first Top 40 single, and was followed by a string of hits in the mid-1960s by Marvin as a soloist and with frequent duet partner Tammi Terrell. The duo had a series a hits, including “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “You’re All I Need to Get By.” In 1967, Tami collapsed into Marvin’s arms onstage due to illness; she was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumor and died in 1970.

Later Career

Tammi’s death, along with other issues of the day, including the Vietnam War, inspired Marvin to write and record the socially conscious album What’s Going On. The album, which was released in May 1971, was a huge critical and commercial success. In 1972, he moved from Detroit to Los Angeles, but continued recording for Motown. Among his later ’70s hits were the songs ‘Let’s Get it On,” “I Want You” and “Got to Give It Up. Pt. 1.” He left Motown over creative differences and signed with CBS Records in 1982. During the early 1980s, he struggled with depression and drug abuse.


Marvin had been staying at his parents’ house in Los Angeles, trying to stay away from drug dealers and hangers-on when he got into a series of arguments with his father. The situation came to a head on April 1, 1984, when Marvin Sr. was arguing with his wife and Marvin Jr. interfered. The father shot and killed his son with a gun that Marvin Jr. had previously given his father as a present. It was the day before Marvin Jr.’s 45th birthday. Eventually, Marvin Sr. pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to five years’ probation.


Marvin Gaye married Janis Hunter in 1977, when she was still in her early 20s and he was in his late 30s. The marriage lasted less than a year, but they weren’t legally divorced until February, 1981.
Marvin was also married to Berry Gordy’s sister, Anna Gordy, from January 1964 to March 1977.
He had two sons and a daughter. His first child, Marvin III, born in 1965 to Denise Gordy, the niece of his first wife. The other two children are Nona Gaye, born in 1974 and Frankie Gaye, born in 1975. Their mother is Marvin’s second wife, Janis Hunter Gaye.

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Marvin Gaye was born and raised in Washington, DC, the son of Alberta Gay, a domestic worker and schoolteacher, and Marvin Gay, Sr., a minister. He was the second-oldest of four children by the couple. Marvin Jr. developed a love for music at an early age and would occasionally sing for his father in church. By the time he started high school, Marvin had also learned to play musical instruments. While in high school he began singing and playing more secular music, something that had been forbidden within in household by his strict, domineering father. While still a teen, he began performing in local bands.

Gaye challenged Gordy to give him more creative control in the early Seventies, resulting in the dual masterpieces “What’s Going On” and “Let’s Get It On.” Gaye spent most of the late Seventies battling Anna in divorce court and nurturing a cocaine habit, but he returned to the charts with 1983’s triumphant “Sexual Healing.” His drug habit had forced him to move back into his father’s house, however, and after a violent argument, the elder Gay shot his son, ending his life.

Contributions to music

  • One of Motown’s most talented artists
  • Brought jazz elements into soul
  • Created several of the most romantic records ever made
  • Helped bring a social consciousness to R&B;
  • Talked about sexual relations in a frank manner in his music
  • Perfected the art of the duet
  • Utilized several unique production elements in his music

Selected Discography

2005: Marvin Gaye at the Copa (live)
1997: Vulnerable.
1985: Romantically Yours
1985: Dream of a Lifetime
1982: Midnight Love
1981: In Our Lifetime
1978: Here, My Dear
1977: Live at the London Palladium
1976: I Want You
1974: Marvin Gaye Live!
1973: Let’s Get It On
1973: Diana & Marvin (with Diana Ross)
1972: Trouble Man
1971: What’s Going On
1970: That’s the Way Love Is
1969: MPG
1968: You’re All I Need (with Tammi Terrell)
1968: I Heard It Through the Grapevine
1967: United (with Tammi Terrell)
1966: Moods of Marvin Gaye
1965: How Sweet it is to Be Loved By You

Awards & Honors

1999: Inducted into Grammy Awards Hall of Fame
1987: Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
1983: Grammy for Best R&B; Vocal Performance, Male, for “Sexual Healing.”
1983: Grammy for Best R&B; Instrumental Performance, for “Sexual Healing (Instrumental Version).”

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Important Songs

#1 hits:

  • “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (1968)
  • “Let’s Get It On” (1973)
  • “Got To Give It Up (Pt. I)” (1977)


  • “Ain’t That Peculiar (1965)
  • “I’ll Be Doggone” (1965)
  • “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” (1968)
  • “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (1968)
  • “You’re All I Need To Get By” (1968)
  • “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” (1969)
  • “What’s Going On” (1971)
  • “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” (1971)
  • “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” (1971)
  • “Let’s Get It On” (1973)
  • “I Want You” (1976)
  • “Got To Give It Up (Pt. I)” (1977)
  • “Sexual Healing” (1982)

Top 10 hits:

  • “Pride And Joy” (1963)
  • “Ain’t That Peculiar” (1965)
  • “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” (1965)
  • “I’ll Be Doggone” (1965)
  • “Your Precious Love” (1967)
  • “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” (1968)
  • “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” (1968)
  • “You’re All I Need To Get By” (1968)
  • “That’s The Way Love Is” (1969)
  • “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” (1969)
  • “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” (1971)
  • “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” (1971)
  • “What’s Going On” (1971)
  • “Trouble Man” (1973)
  • “Sexual Healing” (1983)

#1 Albums:

  • M.P.G. (1969)
  • What’s Going On (1971)
  • Let’s Get It On (1973)
  • Marvin Gaye Live! (1974)
  • I Want You (1976)
  • Marvin Gaye Live At The London Palladium (1977)
  • Midnight Love (1982)

Other important recordings: “Can I Get A Witness,” “Hitch Hike,” “Baby Don’t You Do It,” “You’re A Wonderful One,” “If This World Were Mine,” “Distant Lover,” “You Sure Love To Ball,” “After The Dance,” “Ego Tripping Out”
Wrote or co-wrote: “Baby, I’m For Real,” The Originals; “Beechwood 4-5789,” The Marvelettes; “Dancing In The Street,” Martha and the Vandellas; “The Bells,” The Originals
Covered by: Hall and Oates, The Who, The Isley Brothers, The Rolling Stones, Aaliyah, The Sonics, Todd Rundgren, Madonna, Rickie Lee Jones, Bono, Cyndi Lauper, Soul Asylum, A Perfect Circle, Coldplay, Stevie Wonder
Appears in the movies: “The T.A.M.I. Show” (1965), “Chrome And Hot Leather” (1971), “Save The Children” (1973)

Birth name: Marvin Gay, Jr. (He added an ‘e’ onto his last name after becoming a singer.) Born: April 2, 1939 in Washington, DC. Died: April 1, 1984 in Los Angeles, California. Genres: Soul, Motown, R&B;, Funk, Pop, Pop Vocal, Easy Listening, Jazz Instruments: Vocals, Drums, Keyboards.

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