April 1, is by and large looked at as a day of pranking and practical jokes, but in the world of R&B, it marks both the passing of a soul music icon.
Marvin Gaye, born in 1939 to a Pentecostal minister in Washington. D.C., grew to fame as part of the Motown sound of the 60s and evolved into one of music’s sexiest crooners, setting the stage for later artists like the Isley Brothers, Prince, R. Kelly and Usher. But he later became just as notable for his songs of social protest during the 70s.
(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 protest songs)
His life took several dramatic turns as well as his career, which culminated in the 1984 album “Midnight Love” with his signature track “Sexual Healing.” Unable to shake mounting debt and a cocaine habit, Gaye was shot to death by his father in an argument that same year — a day before his 45th birthday. However, he left behind a catalog of that is regarded as among the classics of music history.
Here are several of his most popular songs and performances:
1. What’s Going On /What’s Happening Brother (1971)
2. The Star Spangled Banner (1983)
3. Let’s Get It On (1973)
4. You’re All I Need to Get By (w/Tammi Terrell) (1968)
5. Sexual Healing (1982)
6. Distant Lover (1973)
7. Mercy Mercy Me
(More on TIME.com: Look back on 50 years of Motown)