Marvin Gaye’s harrowing death – dad’s regret, shooting and tragic last words

Marvin Gaye became a famous name in classic Motown, with numerous tracks and albums still well-known today.

In the 1960s he was plunged into the spotlight and released his albums and singles, much to the joy of his many fans at the time who watched him release his popular music.

Although Marvin had a successful career and even went on to have three children and get married twice, his life was tragically cut short and the star died aged just 44.

The singer songwriter was killed in a brutal shooting in 1984 at the hands of his father, who shot him in multiple areas of the body and was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

Marvin had his own struggles prior to his death, having dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts, but his demise was ultimately at the hands of his father.

Marvin Sr died in October 1998 and was never jailed for the death of his son, receiving a suspended sentence instead.

Now, 38 years after his death, and on what would've been his 83rd birthday, Daily Star has looked into the harrowing details of Marvin's final moments.

Shot by his father

On April 1, 1984 – the day before Marvin's 45th birthday – Marvin Sr raged at Alberta over lost insurance papers and Marvin jumped in to shield his mother in his bedroom and began punching and kicking his father.

Moments later, Marvin Sr returned to the bedroom holding a .38 revolver, bought for him by his son, and shot him twice in the chest.

Alberta said after the incident: "My husband didn't say anything, he just pointed the gun at Marvin. I screamed, but it was very quick. I tried to run. Marvin slid down to the floor after the first shot."

Marvin Sr claimed he shot his son in self-defence and did not end up going to jail because the judge believed he shot him out of "fear for his life".

Marvin Sr's account of his son's death differs to his wife at the time Alberta's version of events. However, after hearing Marvin Sr's argument, the court decided to give him a six-year suspended sentence after he was convinced of voluntary manslaughter.

Years after Marvin's death, Marvin Sr said: "If I could bring him back, I would. I was afraid of him. I thought I was going to get hurt. I didn't know what was going to happen. I'm really sorry for everything that happened. I loved him."

Violent row

Ahead of the violent row that tragically cost Marvin his life, his childhood wasn't at all rosy and violent outbursts were allegedly regular.

Marvin Sr is said to have been an excessive drinker who had extra-marital affairs and fathered a child with another woman behind Alberta's back.

It has been reported that the four children were forced to quote bible verses at will and would be severely beaten if they got them wrong.

Marvin's older sister Jeanne said that from age seven into his teens Marvin's life was a "series of brutal whippings".

Food was also withheld from the children, with Marvin Sr claiming their hunger would bring them "closer to God".

Marvin historically spoke of the lack of support from his father, telling David Ritz: "If it wasn't for mother who was always there to console me and praise me for my singing, I think I would have been one of those child suicides you read about in the papers."


Marvin's autopsy indicated he had drugs in his system at the time of death.

The star had long battled addiction and depression, with the singer starting to use cocaine in the early '60s and later became dependant on the drug in the '70s.

He faced many challenges throughout his life, despite his incredible career, with drugs, debt, depression and trauma all causing him strain.


Marvin's paranoia only grew as he became even more famous, with the singer soon taking to wearing bullet proof vests on stage.

In 1983 he had hired bodyguards with loaded guns, was wearing the bulletproof vests regularly and sent his father a gun – which was later used to kill him.

The Washington Post has reported that his younger sister once said he was paranoid and believed someone was trying to kill him.

Marvin, who received several death threats during the peak of his fame, took them very seriously and would instruct limo drivers to drive in circles to throw off anyone who could be following him.

Tragic final words

Marvin's brother Frankie, who lived next door, immediately rushed to the defence of his brother after the shooting.

He held him as he died and has since claimed his last words were: "I got what I wanted… I couldn't do it myself, so I made him do it."

Marvin Sr pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was given a six-year suspended sentence before his death in 1998.

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