Marvin Gaye's Disturbing Last Words Before He Died

The retired minister came into the bedroom without a word on the afternoon of April 1, 1984, and pulled the trigger of the .38 pistol twice. Two bullets ripped into his son, penetrating his heart, a lung, and his liver, per the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office (via His son slumped down against the far wall and lay there, bleeding out. The gun had been a present from his son for Christmas that year, according to The U.S. Sun.

Marvin Gaye, the musical legend known as the Prince of Motown, was dying, a day before his 45th birthday. His father, Marvin Gay Sr., had shot him in what some saw as an inevitable outcome of the troubled relationship father and son had shared since before Marvin Jr. had even been born. Gaye had gone so far as adding an e to the end of his name to distance himself from the man who'd abused him his whole life, per The U.S. Sun.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

A musical legend with a troubled familial relationship

Marvin Gaye was born on April 2, 1939, in Washington D.C., and suffered under the strict corporal punishment liberally dolled out by his father, according to Biography. Even before his son was born, Marvin Gay Sr., already seemed to have a problem with him. "My husband never wanted Marvin. And he never liked him," Alberta Cooper Gay told David Ritz in his book "Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye." Marvin Gay Sr. even went so far as telling Alberta he didn't believe Marvin was his son.

Gaye's father was a minister in the Hebrew Pentecostal Church, but that didn't stop him from physically abusing his children, cheating on his wife, or becoming violent when he over-consumed alcohol, per The U.S. Sun. Marvin Gaye found solace in music at church and believed he could win his father's love through singing. Still, the better he became, the more demands his father made on him, per "Divided Soul." If not for Gaye's mother, Alberta, who consoled her son and was his biggest fan, Gaye might have died by suicide as a child, he told David Ritz. Instead, Gaye, tired of his father's abuse, quit school at age 17, ran away from home, and joined the U.S. Air Force, which ended disastrously with Gaye faking a mental illness to get a discharge, per "Divided Soul."

Marvin Gaye's ups and downs

By the early 1960s, Marvin Gaye had found a home at Motown records, starting as a session drummer before making the leap to singer, per Biography. He had a string of hits in the 1960s with songs like "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," a duet with Tammi Terrell, and into the 1970s with "What's Going On?" and "Let's Get it On." The more successful Marvin Gaye became, the more his father seemed to resent him.

By 1981, Marvin Gaye had become addicted to cocaine, declared bankruptcy, had two failed marriages, the IRS hit him with a massive fine for unpaid back taxes, and he attempted suicide, according to The U.S. Sun and the Associated Press. He moved to Belgium, got clean, and made a comeback with 1982's album "Midnight Love" and its megahit "Sexual Healing." Unfortunately, once he was back in the music scene, he again began using cocaine. The last four months of his life he spent living at the Los Angeles home he'd bought for his parents, per History. Once back, living under the same roof, Marvin Gaye and his father's relationship disintegrated.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Marvin Gaye's last moments

The fight between Marvin Gaye and his father began on Saturday night, March 31, 1984, when the elder man became angry with Alberta over some missing insurance papers, per the AP. The fight continued the next day and became physical, with Marvin Gaye punching and kicking his father, according to Marvin Gay Sr. (via The Washington Post). Marvin Gay Sr. then left and came back into the bedroom and shot his son.

Alberta called Gaye's younger brother, Frankie Gaye, who lived next door. As Frankie held his dying brother's head in his lap, Marvin told him: "I got what I wanted ... I couldn't do it myself, so I made him do it," per History. Marvin Gay Sr., later pleaded no contest to one count of involuntary manslaughter, was given five months of probation, and died in 1998 at 83, per the AP and the Los Angeles Times. "I'm sorry ... I loved him," Marvin Gay Sr. said at his sentencing, per the Los Angeles Times. "If I could bring him back, I would."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.