Marvin Gaye’s Wife Janis Hunter Gaye Passes Away at the age of 66
On Saturday, her family announced the death of Janis Hunter Gaye, the second wife of Motown icon Marvin Gaye and the subject of many of his songs.
At a session for his 1973 album Let’s Get It On at Los Angeles’s Hitsville West, producer Ed Townsend introduced Hunter Gaye to the singer. Hunter Gaye was 17; his father, Gaye, was 34. Anna Gordy was the sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, and the couple eventually married.
After composing and recording “Jan” for his future wife for his 1974 album Marvin Gaye Live!, the album I Want You (1976) has been called “a sentimental and sensual dedication” to her. Her backing vocals helped propel his disco tune “Got to Give It Up” to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977. In that year, they tied the knot.
In 1974, Gaye gave a legendary performance at the Oakland Coliseum, and his family claims that Hunter Gaye styled his now-iconic red watch cap, beaded denim shirt, and silver red-laced platform boots.
The two were wed in 1977 and later separated in 1981. He was shot by his father in Los Angeles and died three years later. In 2015, she released her autobiography titled After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye.
The late Slim Gaillard, whose successes included “Flat Foot Floogie (With a Floy Floy),” had a daughter named Hunter Gaye. She also oversaw Nona Gaye’s career as a manager; Nona is a singer and actress who has appeared in films like Ali, Crash, and both Matrix sequels.
Nona Gaye said of her daughter, “From the time she met my father, she was exposed to the way he saw this world was aching, and she did her best to preserve his legacy as he was taken from us far too early,” Nona Gaye added. She wasted no time in telling everyone she met about the man she fell in love with and how much she adored his music and every word he wrote. Unfortunately, I know she is with my dad in heaven and is still speaking for us even though I will never get to see her again in this world.
Frankie’s son and daughter-in-law, Shawnn and Mark’s sister and brother, and Nolan, their grandson, are also among the survivors.