Marvin Gaye’s family approve What’s Going On documentary

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Motown stars will trace journey towards the album that challenged American attitudes to race, drugs and civil injustice – with the help of exclusive footage released by Gaye’s ex-wife and children

Marvin Gaye’s family approve What’s Going On documentary
Marvin Gaye. Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex Features

Marvin Gaye seminal 1971 album What’s Going On is to be the subject of a documentary.


Marvin Gaye’s family approve What’s Going On documentary-2Centred around themes of poverty, police brutality, drug abuse and injustice in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination and with lyrics written from the perspective of a Vietnam war veteran, the film will document the making of a soul classic that “challenged America and the world to self-reflect, going on to inspire a generation of artists and music lovers”, the producers said.

“The relevance of [his] masterpiece … is as strong as ever.”

It is the first time his former wife, Janis Gaye, and his children, Nona, Marvin III and Frankie Gaye have approved a project such as this, with his family contributing previously unseen archive footage of the late artist to the film’s producers.

Including “exclusive interviews with some of Motown’s top stars and never-before-seen archive footage unearthed by Gaye’s children and former wife,” the documentary will be filmed in Washington DC, LA and Detroit.

“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,” the Gaye family said in a joint statement. “What’s Going On … something many of us find ourselves asking today, 45 years later. Peace.”

The film is scheduled for release in 2017.

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