Marvin Gaye funeral filled with song

By JEFF WILSON   |   April 6, 1984
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LOS ANGELES -- Rhythm and blues singer Marvin Gaye was eulogized by fellow entertainers and friends as a man who gave his heart to the world, as the soul superstar was mourned at a song-filled funeral.

Singer Stevie Wonder sang a melancholy ballad he composed for the occasion, and Smokey Robinson told a crowd of 500 mourners Thursday that Gaye had left a legacy of music that should leave his family and friends with joy rather than sorrow.

'Many times in the last few days I have tried to cry, but there are no tears,' said Wonder, who was led to the microphone by Robinson near the beginning of the 90-minute service.

'I just smiled because I know of those moments of joy with Marvin,' said the blind singer, whose 'Lighting Up The Candle' included the words, 'I really thought we could have made it to that forever and a day, but destiny and fate decided to give it away.'

The services at the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, Hall of Liberty were conducted by Bishop S.P. Rawlings, superintendent of the House of God Inc., in which Marvin Gaye Sr., 70, was a minister.

The elder Gaye was not allowed to attend the funeral; he was undergoing psychiatric tests to determine if he is competent to stand trial for murder in his son's shooting.

Friends and family, including Gaye's grief-stricken mother, Alberta - the only witness to the shooting Sunday during an argument at his family home -- filed past the blue velvet-lined open casket. Many touched and kissed the body of the Grammy-winning entertainer.

On a stage behind the casket stood a dozen large floral tributes that surrounded a photograph of the singer, whose most famous songs included, 'I Heard It Though the Grapevine,' 'Sexual Healing,' and 'What's Going On?'

Pop star Michael Jackson was expected to attend but was not seen in the crowd. Diana Ross, with whom Gaye had recorded an album, was listed on the funeral program as a singer but did not attend the services.

Rawlings of Lexington, Ky., said of Gaye, 'This man gave his heart to the world.'

Social activist-comedian Dick Gregory gave the eulogy, and he had words of sympathy for Gaye's father as well.

'If Marvin Senior were here I would tell him I love him. We hear about tragedy but I've prayed enough with you all to know you can handle this,' Gregory said.

'Marvin told me, 'I like to raise people's consciousness. I want to give them hope.' Well, brother Marvin, you did that -- with class and warmth and love. You left us too soon, but any time would have been too soon.'

Also among the invited guests were Berry Gordy Jr., founder of Motown Records; members of the 'Miracles' singing group; composers Burt Bacharach and Carol Bayer Sager and Sylvia 'Sister' Sledge.

Hymns and several songs played by an orchestra added to the musical atmosphere.

Gaye's body will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered at sea.

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