By People Staff
October 16, 2000 12:00 PM

The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

by Steve Turner

While touring England in 1980, R&B superstar Marvin Gaye asked his British promoter to set up a royal performance. But when the day came for his benefit concert before Princess Margaret, he was too zonked on coke to show up, says one of his handlers in Trouble Man. Told he was ill, Margaret replied, “Do you mean he’s out of it?”

Was he ever. Gaye’s life was a tale fit for Shakespeare: the gentle son of an abusive preacherman who resented his famous child’s success and ultimately shot and killed him. Along the way, Gaye rebelled against his strict upbringing with kinky sex, appalling amounts of drugs and near-total disregard for family and friend.

Turner, who interviewed 130 sources, is a tad breezy with the psychoanalysis: Just because Gaye had given his dad the fatal gun a year earlier doesn’t prove “he had deliberately decided to end his own life,” as Turner suggests. But the sad facts speak for themselves in this thorough, sympathetic portrait of a pop music giant. (Ecco/Harper Collins, $24)

Bottom Line: How sweet it wasn’t