Affected by the social upheaval of the late '60s, the soul icon won a battle of wills with Motown to release his classic album.
"WITH THE WORLD EXPLODING around me, how am I supposed to keep singing love songs?" Marvin Gaye asked himself, according to biographer David Ritz, in 1965 after hearing a DJ interrupt his song "Pretty Little Baby" with news of the Watts riots in Los Angeles.
It took almost six years – and a few more love songs, including his first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" – but Gaye finally responded to the violent upheaval taking place in America with "What's Going On," a social and political meditation that was a far cry from the polished pop and R&B tunes that defined his career in the 1960s.
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