Album cover for I Heard It Through The Grapevine! (1968). Courtesy of Photofest.
By the time Marvin Gaye's version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" reached number 1 on the
Billboard Hot 100 it had already been recorded by two other Motown acts—possibly three, if a rumored studio session with
the Isley Brothers is counted—and had reached number 1 on the Billboard R & B chart. The track, created by legendary
in-house producer Norman Whitfield and early Motown singer Barrett Strong, was first recorded by Smokey Robinson and The
Miracles in 1966, though was never released due to opposition by Berry Gordy. Gaye's version was recorded next, but was
also held up by Gordy; it took the R & B chart success of Gladys Knight & The Pips, a year later, to finally convince the Motown
president it was good enough. In 1968, two years after it was originally recorded, "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" was released
on the album In The Groove. Pressure from Whitfield finally convinced a still-resistant Gordy to release the track as a
single, and it immediately ascended the Hot 100, staying at the top for seven weeks. In the Groove was re-launched with
the title of its hit track, and Gaye became yet another Motown superstar.