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After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye Hardcover – May 19, 2015
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“After the Dance: My Life With Marvin Gaye is billed as a new tell-all memoir. And it lives up to the hype.” (LA Weekly)
“With sensitivity and insight, Gaye examines their explosive four-year marriage, ultimately making peace with the dark side of one of America’s most influential partners.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)
“Jan’s writing … is engaging, steamy, harrowing, and insightful.” (Library Journal)
“...a story told honestly and directly, with real passion and plenty of behind-the-scenes insight. (Booklist)
“If your heart is not affected greatly after reading, it’s time for a checkup... What a fabulous book of poems.” (Washington Independent Review of Books)
“Jan and Marvin’s love affair is hot-and at times amazingly cold. We see how love can bring people together as well as tear them apart. This fascinating and entertaining memoir is an unforgettable education on the power of love.” (Zane, New York Times bestselling author)
“With raw and penetrating honesty, this memoir reveals everything audiences ever wanted to know about Marvin Gaye’s life. Most important, this is also a story of a woman courageously sharing her voice, her story.” (bell hooks, author of Ain't I a Woman)
“The story made me emotional, confused, and sympathetic, all at the same time. Love, drugs, power, and demons-with a hint of other celebrity lives intertwined-make up Jan’s story with the legendary crooner. The raw storytelling, full of secrets kept until now, makes this book a treasure.” (LisaRaye McCoy, actress)
“This stunning memoir is hot! It’s also unforgettable in its pain and vulnerability, which Jan Gaye presents with raw honesty. It will make all women love differently, but probably no less passionately.” (Grace Octavia, author of Something She Can Feel)
From the Back Cover
A searing memoir of love, drugs, sex, and old-school R&B, from the former wife of the legendary soul icon Marvin Gaye
Stuck in a foster home with an abusive caregiver, Janis Hunter found solace in her dreams of an encounter with Marvin Gaye—the soulful prince of Motown, with the seductive liquid voice, whose chart-topping, socially conscious album What's Going On had recently made him a superstar.
They met in February 1973. Despite a seventeen-year age difference and Marvin's marriage to the sister of Berry Gordy, Motown's founder, the enchanted teenager and the emotionally volatile singer began a scorching relationship. One moment Jan was a high school student, the next she was Marvin's soulmate. Their romance navigated the hippie high life of the seventies and took the couple from one adventure to another.
But the distractions and burdens of fame, the chaos of dysfunctional families, and the irresistible temptation of drugs complicated the love they shared. Marvin and Jan hurt each other, and their relationship descended into a dark place, but the attraction was too magnetic and the love was too strong to let go. Largely silent since Marvin's tragic death in 1984, Jan has at last opened up, sharing the moving, passionate story of one of music history's most fabled relationships. Unsparing in its honesty and insight, After the Dance reveals what it's like to be in love with an artistic genius, a man whose words and music have touched the world and made him a legend.
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Her heartbreaking tale describes how the ill matched couple had very little chance of succeeding from the start; she had been raised in an uncertified foster care home where she'd been dumped by her loving but drug addicted mother and became the victim of sexual abuse. He had been the son of a deeply religious, evangelical cross dressing father who'd beaten Marvin mercilessly for questioning the elder's fashion sense, and daring to raise the possibility that his gender bending attire may have brought dishonor to the family name. Marvin was also a superstar depressive who had lost his way and was using copious amounts of drugs to numb the pain from the break-up of his first marriage. Jan and Marvin never had a chance.
I spoke with Jan, earlier this year, via telephone. She called for the purpose of nervously reading the book's first chapter to me, and getting my opinion. She hadn't turned in her manuscript to her publisher yet, so I felt flattered by the sneak preview. I assured her that what she'd written was great, and it was, but in no way had her excerpt prepared me for the exceptionally intimate, personal and poetic work of depth and beauty that she and Ritz have delivered.
Jan describe how life at the side of a glamorous '70s sex symbol was like living in the eye of a hurricane. She writes of the unscrupulous promoters, Marvin's ambivalence about performing, and his stage fright. She writes of Motown pressuring the superstar for bigger and more frequent hits. She writes of Marvin's loyalty to Motown chieftain, Berry Gordy, and Marvin's bitter resentment of Gordy's lack of appreciation for his artistic ambitions. The book insightfully examines the complications caused by Marvin's marriage to, and ultimate divorce from Gordy's sister Anna. There are also recollections of delusional managers who could not manage the great but unmanageable talent, and vignettes about accountants and business managers who could not convince Marvin to spend less frequently, save more often or pay his taxes. She has written beautifully about the gorgeous messiness of love in the shadows of stardom while it's shrouded in the fog addiction.
Recently Jan and her children have been in the news as a result of having won a seven figure judgement against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, in a copyright infringement lawsuit, over the contention that their "Blurred Lines" record of two summer's back too closely resembled Marvin Gaye's dance floor classic "Got To Give It Up". It has been said that the landmark decision will put a chill on musical creativity, and that a business built on sampling the work of others has been rocked at its core. Time will tell.
Of course, for me, the most interesting portions of the book are the ones where Jan describes the creative process that Marvin, the hit maker, went through to come up with the albums; "Here My Dear"; "I Want You"; Let's Get It On" and the smash single "Got To Give It Up", and the subtle way that she inspired and guided Marvin to the expression of his best and higher artistic potential.
This book is her love letter to her mentor, partner and former husband who was tragically murdered by the hand of the cross dressing father who vied for control of the Gaye clan with his strong willed son. It is her deeply personal confession of the adoration, confusion and regret that she felt as a result of falling up to her eyeballs in love with one of the most creative figures of the twentieth century. It proves that Marvin's spirit still speaks to all of us through his music and through this tremendously written work. For soul music fans and those who are interested in black creativity and pop culture it is a must read. Jan Gaye hit this one out of the park.