The Worst April Fools’ Day Joke Ever

I was only 5, but April 1, 1984 was one of those days that millions of people will remember for the rest of their lives as the day the worst April Fools' joke ever was played. I recall sitting on the floor in my grandmother's room watching the news when the story ran. Remember, I'm 5 at the time; my relationship with Marvin Gaye was relegated to "Sexual Healing", his "Motown 25" performance and watching him perform the National Anthem at the NBA All-Star Game. Over the years, I've grown far more intimate with his music and acquainted with him through recordings, interviews and biographies.

However, that night, I can only remember watching how my grandmother reacted to the news of his murder and then watching her in disbelief when it was reported that his father pulled the trigger. Now, we know of the turbulent relationship the two of them had, the demons in Marvin's life and so much more. But that day, the son of soul music passed and with him went the hearts of millions of fans that had grown up on his music, used his music as the soundtrack to their lives, started their parties or capped their nights.

But to a 5-year-old, he became a question, "Why did Marvin Gaye daddy shoot him?" The answer was complicated then and even more complicated if I were to ask as a 31-year-old. It seems as if Marvin and his father, Marvin Sr. had always been at odds and the younger could never please his father who had grown increasingly despondent over the years. Marvin says he was beaten often as a child and the torment became mental and emotional through Marvin's adult years, as his father insisted on living off his wife and later his son.

The resentment the two men built over the years, along with Marvin's mental decay and cocaine abuse, proved to be a combustible mix on a Sunday morning in that Los Angeles bedroom. What is clear however, is that there was a physical confrontation between Marvin and his dad after an argument between his parents, what happened next ended with two shots into Marvin's chest and millions of fans left without the voice of Black America…

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