January 20th was named “What’s Going On” day by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in collaboration with Motown Museum in honor of the musician, his hit single, and an album that would impact generations to come.
There’s a lot to celebrate about Marvin Gaye’s legacy in 2021. The influential musician’s hit single ‘What’s Going On’ just hit its 50th anniversary, and so has the titular album. Gaye’s career took off in Detroit, and in honor of those pivotal moments he experienced while in the city, Detroit has tried to give back to honor the late singer.
On January 20th, Governor Gretchen Whitman collaborated with Motown Museum to declare the day in the name of the anniversary of the hit single ‘What’s Going On.’ The day is just the beginning of a year commemorating the anniversary of not only the single, but the album “What’s Going On” too.
Motown Records and UMe are celebrating the 50th anniversary release date of Marvin Gaye’s album “What’s Going On” released on January 20th, 1971. The album has been a one of the most influential of all time, even landing in the number one spot on the Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time,’ they released in 2020. It was also the first of Gaye’s records to hit the Billboard Top 10 the year it released.
On this day 50 years ago Marvin Gaye released his single “What’s Going On”. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is named 4th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone.
Here is Marvin singing it live at Motown 25 in 1983 ✨ pic.twitter.com/tZ0knj72cQ
— TheBlackPrints👑 (@TheBlackPrints_) January 20, 2021
In honor of his legacy, UMe/Motown have released 3 digital release bundle, the “What’s Going On” Deluxe Edition/50th Anniversary, which you can buy here. The first offering is the original album but with 12 bonus tracks, which includes each of the LP’s singles and b-sides. “What’s Going On: The Detroit Mix,” is the album’s original mix set in Detroit, but Gaye canceled them to record the tracks in Los Angeles. The Detroit Mix was unreleased prior to the 30th anniversary of “What’s Going On.” Finally, there’s the ‘Funky Nations: The Detroit Instrumentals,’ created during that summer, a time filled where Gaye spent his time having rock and funk jam sessions instead of promoting the recent album. This is the first time these tracks have their own digital release.
Gaye has been an important symbol for Detroit for the past 50 years. He relocated in 1960 where he signed with Tri-Phi Records, but soon after he made the switch to Motown Records after the president of Motown, Berry Gordy, watched Gaye perform. Many of Gaye’s most successful years were during his time living in Detroit, although they were also some of the hardest for the talented musician. Tammi Terrell, a fellow musician and friend, died of brain cancer, and went through a period of depression. Detroit was also the place where Gaye recorded and performed “What’s Going On,” an album that would serve as Gaye’s legacy.