DOCUMENT: Celebrity

Marvin Gaye No Military Hit

Superiors: Singer's Air Force stay a lackadaisical waste of time

Marvin Gaye

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Marvin Gaye No Military Hit

SEPTEMBER 13--In our latest installment of "When They Were Soldiers," TSG looks at the brief and stormy military career of Airman Marvin Gaye (vets Jimi Hendrix and Jack Kerouac have recently been profiled).

The late soul singer was drummed out of the Air Force in 1957 after only eight months of duty, according to documents from Gaye's official armed forces file (which we obtained via a Freedom of Information request from the National Personnel Records Center).

According to his superiors, Gaye was uncooperative and lackadaisical. A military chaplain even declared that he "has no future value to the Air Force." When rehabilitation efforts failed, Gaye (who later added an "e" to his surname) was discharged in June 1957. Gaye's recording career began a year later, when he joined The Marquees, a doo-wop group produced by Bo Diddley.

While the military records do not refer to his musical ambitions, a medical history reveals that Gaye--who was gunned down by his father in 1984--had been previously shot by a relative. When he was 13, Gaye reported, his brother blasted him in the eye with a slingshot, an injury that led to an operation to correct his vision. (6 pages)