SIMMONS: Memories of Marvin Gaye kept alive by a loving sister

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As Frankie Beverly and Maze, an R&B group mentored by Marvin, emphasize in their 1980 hit “Joy and Pain (Are Like Sunshine and Rain),” and when the sun poured down happiness upon the Gay/Gaye family, Zeola knew Marvin’s fame and fortune easily could be washed away by the stormy days of jealousy.

By the early 1980s, Marvin had grown weary of the drugging and the family discord.

Marvin senior was a drinker, so much so that he couldn’t maintain steady employment outside the church, something that any mother’s son would find hard to accept.

“Marvin was tired,” Zeola said, “and he was ready to go to glory.”

“We visited each other all the time for two years” before he died, she recalled, her eyes hidden behind shaded glasses. “He was at my house all the time, almost every day.”

‘Writing helps’

Marvin was slated for intervention April 2, she said, but the family demons already had devised other plans.

Zeola, who later became a Jevohah’s Witness, said that on that day, she was forced to deal with Marvin with one hand and his alleged slayer with the other.

“I had to help make funeral arrangements for my brother and hire a lawyer for my father.”

Zeola said that “writing helps” her remember the family’s fortunes and overcome the misfortunes, especially when she can relay to Marvin’s fans “the truth” and tell the world that Marvin was “as spiritual as he was sensual” and that he was a family man who loved to “make people happy.”

Her projects include not only promoting her book, “My Brother, Marvin: A Memoir by Zeola Gaye,” but another play is in the works, “My Brother, Marvin II,” with producer/playwright Angela Barrow Dunlap and director Antwone Fisher.

“Marvin II includes new material” based on letters her mother and father had kept, Zeola said.

There are other books, too, but as Zeola said, if you want to know the truth, consider the source first and foremost.

“I’m not making any apologies,” said Zeola, whose book cites her and Marvin’s encounters withWayne Newton and Dick Gregory, among other celebrities. “If it doesn’t have my name or my sister’s name [Jeanne] attached to it, it may not be accurate.”

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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