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PHOTO ESSAY

Motown

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Marvin Gaye

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.

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