*Today we continue with the interview between EURweb publisher Lee Bailey and Zeola Gaye, the youngest sibling of iconic R&B crooner, Marvin Gaye; and author of the new book, “My Brother, Marvin: A Memoir” By Zeola Gaye.
In Part 1, Bailey had just been shown excerpts of a Marvin Gaye documentary that the family has unsuccessfully been trying to bring to light for the past 3 years. Zee, so named by her big brother Marvin, explains to Bailey how difficult it is to watch the piece, and elaborates on the memories it evokes, including how she has come to terms with what her father did on April 1, 1984.
“I suck that up too. I just suck it up. Its like, there’s nothing I can do about it now,” Zeola responds sorrowfully, when Lee Bailey asks how she copes with the memory that her father, Marvin Gay, Sr., shot and killed his son, her brother, Marvin Gaye, Jr. in cold blood at their Hancock Park family home. “That’s something that happened and I can’t bring them back. I can’t bring him back and it’s not easy. It’s not easy.”
Zeola Gaye describes her brother Marvin as someone who always had a problem with authority; and her father, a strict disciplinarian, had the ability to be very funny when telling jokes. Throughout the book the two men can be seen as strong, clashing personalities painted on a canvass the color of disaster. It is a very complicated relationship; with all the psychological drama and abusive behaviors that many families know all too well.
Though Zeola says there is still so much that was left out of the book, in the event she decides to do lectures and Q & A’s in the future, the memoir still packs a mean punch. There are accusations from Marvin Sr., to his wife Alberta of “inappropriate” behavior with her son Marvin, Jr. (this would later be blamed on a brain tumor); and tales detailing the escapades surrounding Zeola and Marvin’s rampant drug use while on tour. As a constant member of Marvin’s entourage, and backup performer of some of his music, Zee recalls how drugs awaited them at every venue and hotel stop in one chapter of the book referenced below.
“In one small, southern town when we arrived at the hotel we had a message to go down to the laundry room, and ask for a certain person. Rob and I went down to this dimly lit, creepy laundry room and asked for the person. Sure enough, the guy in the laundry room asked if we were there to pick up a package. We said ‘Yes’ and he handed us a brown paper sack, inside of which was a plastic bag filled with cocaine.”
“I know. That was pretty gutsy wasn’t it? When I was talking into my tapes…there was no other way to do this than being totally honest and calling names. I didn’t tell a lie on anybody or I wouldn’t have put it in the book. Everything actually happened. I know it for a fact.”
Knowing that this book, which has a foreword written by Cindy and Carlos Santana, will not make a lot of people happy, Zeola says she is not about to apologize … because this was her life. She goes on to say that, one thing she did not put in the book is a “list of names” that Marvin had made of people who he knew did not have his best interests at heart.
“A lot of people who think they knew Marvin, and felt that Marvin loved them, and they loved him, would be totally surprised [that] their name is on this list.”
Angie Gaye, Zeola’s niece and the editor of the book, is said to be the one that encouraged her aunt not to include the actual list. Here, she explains her decision.
“I …thought that maybe it would be a little too inflammatory. I also thought it was …unnecessary because, he had his reasons; we don’t know what those reasons were, and he is not here to explain them.”
Angie goes on to say that if these people, who are very high profile, knew their names were on the list “They would die.” Zeola interjects, reiterating that the list is in Marvin’s own handwriting before the three of them (including Bailey) share a laugh about the list being a valuable collector’s item.
In all it’s jumping around, readers will find that the book is juicy in its revelations. Zeola and her editor say it has gone through revisions; and credits the feedback received from EURweb publisher, Lee Bailey, who got the book in August. Readers will be flies-on-the-wall for the scandalous behind-the-scenes activities of Marvin Gaye during the creation of some of his most prolific music; and will hear stories of him watching his first wife, Anna Gordy, have sex with other men when he was high on marijuana. Vivid details are also provided about claims of extramarital relationships between second wife, Jan Gaye, with singers Teddy Pendergrass and Rick James. In detailing the relationship Marvin had with Jan Gaye, the mother of his children, we learn the lengths Jan (and her mother) went through to keep Marvin away from his kids: including a savage beating by police and Zeola’s suspicions that Jan was the culprit behind Marvin’s alleged poisoning incident.
These examples only scratch the surface.
A nice touch to this 261-page book is the great Index at the back; which provides easy-to-track methods that allow readers to easily locate desired sections of the book.
In the book’s final edition, the preface explains … that the book started as her memoir, [but] as the author continued she felt people needed to know about Marvin because he was the star … This is why a large portion of the book is Zeola Gaye, but an even larger portion … is about her and Marvin Gaye.
“Since she is the one telling this story,” Angie Gaye adds, “I thought it was important that people know who she was as a person as well; what background brought her to a point where…once she got involved in her teenage and adult life with Marvin, what drove her, what was her motivation, what was she feeling? … To be able to let people know this … they have that foundation as well.”
“I want to make people a part of my family, you know, people looking from the outside in…I want you to be there,” says Zeola Gaye. “I want you to feel what we’ve been through; the chaos…the real chaos, what really happened, and why. So I hope that I did that. I feel good about the book. I feel cleansed … It was a form of therapy for me.”
She ended the hour-and-a-half long interview with Lee Bailey with an expressed desire to see her family together again. And said she has no hard feelings towards anyone.
“Well, like I said in the book, I hope this book will change the hardened heart and soften it up a little bit. Those whose heart is hard against me… I hope that we can make amends and become a family, a real family. I would love for that to happen. I don’t know if it ever will. I know I am willing on my part…I’m hoping that we can all start loving one another, like Marvin would want us to do. There’s nothing more significant to me than to have my family together.”
Now that would be something; a tell-all book naming names and making no apologies for it; bringing a torn family back together after 30 years. Hey, stranger things have happened, yes?
Don’t miss the Zeola Gaye Book signing in Los Angeles at Eso Won Books next Tuesday, December 13, at 7pm. Visit the official Eso Won site at www.esowonbookstore.com for more information.
DeBorah B. Pryor began her career in journalism in New York City more than 30 years ago. She has been a contributing writer for EURweb since 2003. She is an adjunct instructor at UCLA Extension and Glendale Community College teaching her popular and unique original workshop “Public Speaking for the Private Person” to people challenged by communicating effectively in their personal and professional lives. Visit her website at http://www.dpryorpresents.com for more information and the opportunity to purchase the workshop CD for at a discount for a limited time only.