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Marvin Gaye, My Brother (Book) Hardcover – April 1, 2003

4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This posthumous memoir (Frankie Gaye died of a heart attack in 2001), reconstructed from a year of interviews with collaborator Basten, presents the tragic, tumultuous career of Motown singer Marvin Gaye from his younger brother's perspective. Bookended by the sorrowful scene of Marvin's violent death, the story moves from the brothers' tough childhood, dominated by a stern, God-fearing father, through Marvin's rise to fame and into his paranoid, drug-fueled dissolution. Through it all, brother Frankie watches from the wings, offering support and solace, and joining in the party when the times are good. Due to their close physical resemblance, Frankie appears with Marvin onstage at times to confuse the crowd. Perhaps most importantly, both for Frankie and Marvin, Frankie's experience in Vietnam colors Marvin's increasingly politicized art in the 60s. "I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Marvin, my brother, the star, was so inspired by me that he had written a song about me-for me-a song about the frustrations of a returning Vietnam vet, a song that was so personal and heartfelt I started to cry," Frankie says. The song was "What's Happening, Brother," on the landmark What's Goin' On. With great affection for his deeply flawed family-his father's religious zealotry, his brother's rebellious self-destruction-Frankie himself emerges as a sensitive, cautious peacekeeper and witness, a paradigmatic younger brother to one of music's great voices. 30 b&w photos.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Frankie Gaye was a composer and singer, whose experiences in the Vietnam War were credited with influencing his older brother Marvin's album What's Going On. He died in December 2001 at the age of 60. Fred E. Basten, of Santa Monica, has written twenty books on Hollywood and entertainment.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books (April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879307420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879307424
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,235,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I won't reiterate what the other reviewers have said, because they make a great point--the book is light on real information. Much of what Frankie covers is what we already knew about Marvin (drugs, women, mental woes), which leads me to think Frankie didn't know Marvin that well at all.

I was hoping to learn the hardcore, real reason Marvin Sr. shot Marvin. Frankie can only speculate, and since Marvin Sr. is gone, the world will never really have a clear understanding what happened the fateful day that shook the music world. What was appalling then--and still is now--is that Marvin Sr. didn't even get much of a slap on the wrist. The crime is given the almost-justifiable gloss of "Marvin had it coming." Like another reviewer mentions, no one in the family ever sought professional help for Marvin, and if everyone thought the man was such a loose cannon, why didn't they? It's my guess that Marvin Sr. would have blocked that attempt anyway, given that he was such an attention hound, to hear Frankie tell it. Frankie makes it clear that Marvin Sr. caused a significant amount of pain to his own family, through routine unemployment, anger-loaded outbursts, and all-around childishness. I had heard that Marvin and his sibs were abused sexually as children, but not a word of that appears in this book.

The book isn't bad, but I agree with the reviewer who noted that the co-author didn't seem to have a voice within the pages, and I believe that would have made the book much less subjective. Frankie writes as if he is sitting in front of you, just talking about his brother, so the tone and style are very loose and informal. Not a bad book, but I think there are better, more meaty biographies out there.
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Format: Hardcover
I found Francis "Frankie" Gaye's amateurish biography of his famous brother, of some use, but not much. Some of the anecdotes ring true. I believe that Marvin Gaye was the impulsive, sometimes unintentionally amusing person Frankie describes. That is why I have given the book a couple stars. But, Marvin Gaye was much, much more than this book suggests -- and much of the personal aspect was rather awful. I would urge anyone interested in the brilliant singer, musician and songwriter, who was also a misogynist and drug addict, to read other sources. Foremost among them would be David Ritz's biography of Marvin Gaye.

I will correct a few misconceptions a reader will get from "Marvin Gaye: My Brother." Another reviewer, A Reader, has corrected others.

*It is well-documented that Rev. Marvin Gay, Sr., was physically and emotionally abusive to his wife and children. He seldom worked and was a drinker, despite his religious zealotry. He also was a cross-dresser and there were questions about whether he was bisexual or homosexual, as ran in his family. Frankie Gaye skims over or tries to cover up these facts.

*Frankie and Marvin Gaye were not close as adults. Though Frankie was on hand for some of the later significant events in Marvin's life, he was living a separate life in Washington, D.C., and later, California, when his brother descended into drug addiction, sexual profligacy and possible insanity. Oddly, neither he nor other family members ever sought psychiatric help for Marvin Gaye.

*Marvin Gaye's impressive contributions to American music occurred in spite of, not because of, his warped family. Frankie Gaye's attempt to credit the Gay household for his brother's talent is ludicrous.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was a major disappointment and filled with half-truths and "cleaned up" versions of Marvin's Life. Yes this was written
by Frankie Gaye, brother of Marvin but his view is clouded, in an attempt to clean up embarrassing details in his family. For instance; his mother is quoted as saying her husband never loved Marvin and told her so, she also says her husband was a cross-dresser and wore her gowns, panties, and hose. Which is reiterated by Marvin. But Frankie in a couple of sentences says his father never cross-dressed and loved Marvin dearly and moves on. He claims David Ritz (author of Marvin's first Biography) only met Marvin briefly one day overseas, and that Marvin didnt open up or discuss much, but yet Ritz puts out his 1985 book filled with Marvin quotes and stories, including interviews from family and friends. Frankie also dedicates a whole chapter to Marvin's letters that were written to him while he was serving in Vietnam. Yet he was quoted as saying in the early 80's that he was so hurt that Marvin never wrote him back while he was in vietnam leaving his fellow soldiers to believe he was lying about Marvin being his brother. Marvin left Washington D.C. for Detroit and only wanted to keep in contact with his mother. But his father, brothers ,and sisters remained in her house for years and they kind of came with the territory. He deliberately kept his real family away as he started over again with the powerful Gordy family. He claimed them as the family he always wanted. Even the pictures in Frankie's book are skimpy and reprints of what we have already seen. Marvin makes very little mention of Frankie in interviews and claims Smokey and Harvey Fuqua as dear friends.
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