What’s going on: Detroit street named for Marvin Gaye

DETROIT — A half-century after his landmark “What’s Going On” album was released, legendary Motown singer Marvin Gaye had a street named after him in Detroit.

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The street naming was unveiled during an event hosted by Motown Museum and Detroit City Councilman Roy McCalister, Variety reported. It was attended by Gaye’s youngest brother, Antwaun Gay -- the family’s original surname -- and Dylan Holley, Gaye’s grandson, according to The Detroit News. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence also attended the ceremony, which was held on a rainy day in the city.

The intersection of Outer Drive and Monica Street is just yards from the home where Gaye lived with his first wife, Anna Gordy, for seven years, the newspaper reported.

The backyard of the property was the scene of the photoshoot 50 years ago that produced the iconic cover for Gaye’s “What’s Going On” album, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“To be here on this day is just a beautiful thing,” said Gay, who was just a year old when “What’s Going On” was released, the newspaper reported. 

“I remember it moved me to tears,” Gay told the Free Press, recalling when he listened to the album as an 8-year-old. “I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. I don’t know if I even realized it was Marvin.”

“Marvin Gaye left an indelible mark on the world, and honoring his meaningful work and his impact with the newly minted Marvin Gaye Drive ensures his legacy lives on in an important way with his continued presence in Detroit, steps away from the home where he lived and conceptualized the ‘What’s Going On’ album 50 years ago,” Robin Terry, chairperson and CEO of the Motown Museum, said in a statement. “It was incredibly special for us to share this ceremonial moment with members of Marvin’s family, members of our Motown family and the Detroit community. It’s a day we’ll never forget.”

Terry read a letter from Gaye’s youngest sister, Zeola Gaye, who wrote, “I’m elated and touched by the love shown to my brother Marvin.”

Gay, visiting from Fredericksburg, Virginia, said it had been a powerful day, the Free Press reported.

“I’m so honored to see all the support for ‘What’s Going On’ and for the loving man who sacrificed for others,” he told the newspaper.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer named Jan. 20 “What’s Going On Day” earlier this year, and special Marvin Gaye-themed tours were held at the Motown museum in May, according to the News.

Marvin Gaye was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He was nominated for a Grammy Award 12 times and won twice in 1982 for his song, “Sexual Healing.” Gaye took Grammys for best R&B performance by a male, and best R&B instrumental performance for the instrumental version of the song.

He died on April 1, 1984, in Los Angeles, when he was fatally shot by his father after intervening in a fight involving his parents. He was a day short of his 45th birthday.