Anna Gordy Gaye, the ex-wife of legendary Motown crooner Marvin Gaye and sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, has passed away at age 92. According to Rolling Stone she died early Friday morning at her Los Angeles home surrounded by her family.
“She died today at her Los Angeles home. She passed away from natural causes. They discovered her body at 3:00 a.m.,” said Maureen O’Connor, executive vice president of publicists Rogers & Cowan.
A singer and songwriter in her own right, Gordy Gaye co-wrote ”Flying High (In the Friendly Sky)” and “God is Love,” on Gaye’s iconic album “What’s Going On.”
The couple were married for 14 years, from 1964-1977, but their relationship began to completely unravel when Gaye met and fell in love with 17-year-old Janis Hunter, who became his second wife, the inspiration behind “Let’s Get It On.”
Rolling Stone wrote this of the divorce:
When Anna filed for divorce in 1975, the proceedings lasted more than two years before the marriage was officially dissolved.
“The marriage was troubled from the start,” Marvin told biographer David Ritz. “There was tremendous love between us, and tremendous need for one another. But I couldn’t be controlled – not by a wife, not by a manager, not by a record company. I was born a ram and a rebel.”
The divorce became the cornerstone to one of the stranger creation backstories in music. With little cash to pay for back taxes and Anna’s divorce settlement, Gaye agreed to pay Anna $600,000, with the first $307,000 coming from an advance against royalties off his next album and the remaining $293,000 to be paid from any future royalties. Gaye began work on Here, My Dear, a brutally honest autobiographical account of his relationship with Anna; its titles –”When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You,” “Anger” – exemplified the album’s personal themes. Here, My Dear told specific stories about the duo’s past, causing Anna to consider a $5 million invasion-of-privacy suit against Gaye.
Gordy Gaye and Gaye reconciled in the early 80s and she accepted his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
In recent years, Anna Gordy Gaye reportedly suffered from dementia, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. In 2005, she moved away from Marvin’s former Hollywood Hills home due to alleged drug use on the part of her adopted son, Marvin Gaye III. In 2007, trustees for Anna forced Gaye III out of the residence in an effort to sell the home, according to ABC News.
Anna Gordy Gaye is survived by her brother Berry and her adopted son Marvin.