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Song of the Day for April 1: "Heard it Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye

Singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye is winner of Favorite Soul/R&B Single, "Sexual Healing," at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles, Calif., Jan. 17, 1983. (AP Photo/Doug Pizac)

Marvin Gaye’s fans hoped somebody was playing a cruel April Fool’s joke when they heard that the singer had died. The news was no joke. Gaye was gunned down during an argument with his father on April 1, 1984.

Marvin Gaye was only 44, but he had already experienced the highs, the lows, the drugs and the depression. In the 1960s, he was a Motown hit machine, first cracking the Top 40 Song Chart with “Hitch Hike” in 1962. He had several hits with Tammy Terrell before she died of a brain tumor.

“Heard It Through the Grapevine” was Gaye’s biggest hit. Gladys Knight & the Pips’ released the song first in 1967. It became Motown’s best-selling single ever.

Barry Gordy begrudgingly released Gaye’s version as a single in 1968 because deejays were already playing the song off Gaye’s newly released album, “In the Groove.” The single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, one spot better than Knight’s version. It also passed Knight’s version as Motown’s best-selling single.

But Gaye’s troubles kept chasing his successes. He ran off to Europe as a tax exile. In 1982, he returned to the United States to make a comeback. He left Motown for Columbia Records and won a Grammy for his song “Sexual Healing.” But he still fought depression and drug use.

In 1984, Marvin Gaye, Jr. was living with his parents when his father shot him twice. His father, Marvin Gaye Senior said he shot his son in self-defense. The judge agreed. Marvin Gaye Senior never went to jail. Instead, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and received a six-year suspended sentence.

“Heard it through the grapevine” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 for historical, artistic and significant value.