Marvin, What’s Going On? goes into production this year and will include contributions from Gaye’s three children and former wife, Janis. The film marks the first time the late singer’s family has lent their support to such a project.
Recorded in Detroit and West Hollywood, What’s Going On marked a significant turning point for Gaye, who until then had been known for his indelible duets with Tammi Terrell and solo pop hits like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” The LP remains a vivid document of American civil unrest in the late-Sixties and early-Seventies and finds Gaye grappling with police brutality, poverty, environmental decay, social injustice and the Vietnam War. The political nature of What’s Going On so unnerved Motown honcho Berry Gordy, he almost didn’t release it. It’s since become a touchstone of American popular music.
“We look forward to participating and sharing what we can through friends, family, photos, footage and priceless stories that only those who knew our father up close and personal would know, as well as his contemporaries, purists and fans who have studied him and his art over decades,” Gaye’s children, Nona, Marvin III and Frankie, said in a joint statement.
The documentary will be directed by Gabriel Clarke and Torquil Jones of Noah Media Group. Previously, Clarke directed the 2015 doc, Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans, about the famed action movie star’s 1971 race car flick flop, Le Mans.