After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye by Jan Gaye

A riveting cautionary tale about the ecstasy and dangers of loving Marvin Gaye, a performer passionately pursued by all—and a searing memoir of drugs, sex, and old-school R&B from the wife of legendary soul icon Marvin Gaye.

After her seventeenth birthday in 1973, Janis Hunter met Marvin Gaye—the soulful prince of Motown with the seductive liquid voice whose chart-topping, socially conscious album What’s Going On made him a superstar two years earlier.

Despite a seventeen-year-age difference and Marvin’s marriage to the sister of Berry Gordy, Motown’s founder, the enchanted teenager and the emotionally volatile singer began a scorching relationship.

One moment Jan was a high school student; the next she was accompanying Marvin to parties, navigating the intriguing world of the 1970s-‘80s celebrity; hanging with Don Cornelius on the set of Soul Train and helping to discover new talent like Frankie Beverly.

But the burdens of fame, the chaos of dysfunctional families, and the irresistible temptations of drugs complicated their love.

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My Thoughts

I was a child when the legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye passed away, I remember at the time the somber mood his passing cast upon the adults in my home.

His talent, his sensuality, and the mystique that he exuded left many wondering about the inner workings of who he was.

Gaye met Marvin when she was seventeen and Marvin was twice her age. The autobiography begins with Gaye describing her life as a child, this was around the time when America was going through its free love, sex, and drug phase. 

The times I’ve read about or seen in an old movie, yet it was real, and Gaye lived it with Marvin. Today, Marvin would have been ostracized and deemed a sexual deviant for his relationship with the young Jan whom he called his muse.

Marvin’s sexual energy jumped off the pages of this book with Gaye’s description of him. Much like he poured into his music as the symphonic sounds he composed were a direct reflection of the life he was living.

The autobiography gives the reader a chance to go behind the scenes into the life of a celebrity who was deemed a musical genius. Gaye also describes many other interactions and scenarios with famous musicians that were a bit scandalous, to say the least.

The story is full of sex, drugs, and rhythm and blues.  The artist Marvin Gaye was quite charming but appeared to suffer from the skeletons of his own childhood.

Gaye delivers this story in a way where she’s not only highlighting the flaws of Marvin but her own. She hits a low and is able to fight for her sobriety and eventually she finds peace.

This book takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions through a tumultuous and at times extremely dysfunctional relationship.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly, it put a renowned musician’s life on full display and showed how at times celebrities can be viewed and treated as superhuman when they’re just people with issues like everyone.

I would highly recommend After the Dance, it’s a page-turner and will keep you invested in what’s going to happen next.

My rating 4.5/5

Nikita Marie L.M.



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