The muse to many of Marvin’s songs died on Saturday (Dec. 3), at her Rhode Island residence, their daughter Nona Gaye announced.
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“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my mother, Janis Gaye. She was the most influential woman in my life and many others. I believe once you met my mother Jan, she wasn’t a woman you could ever forget. Every word from her mouth was from her soul. She never said anything she didn’t mean. I know her drive and influence from the time she was 17 until the day she died was all about her family and family that extended beyond blood – brothers, sisters in every part of this beautiful and painful planet. Every day she was here it was about the love she felt for her husband, children, grandson, and the friends she met all over the world.”
“From the time she met my father, she was exposed to the way he saw this world was aching, and she did her best to preserve his legacy as he was taken from us far too early. She took every moment to speak about every word and every note of his music, and she wanted to make sure everyone knew the man she fell in love with. I will never get to see her again in this life but know she’s in heaven with my father and a spokesperson for us in spirit,” she added.
“From the first memory of my grandmother, I knew then and now, how much she cared about her family and the warmth she gave to all of us.”
“I will always be grateful for all the memories. She also cared about so many people in the world, and I will do everything I can to put into action the things she wanted and help continue the Gaye legacy,” added Nolan Pentz, her grandson.
Further commenting, Nona Gaye stated, “My mom was immensely proud of her grandson, Nolan, and how he stepped up as a young man, like a soldier, to help the family and lend support in times of need.”
Hunter Gaye was the daughter of musician Slim Gaillard, best known for his 1938 song “Flat Foot Floogie (With a Floy Floy).” Aside from authoring her 2015 memoir After the Dance: My Life With Marvin Gaye, she also managed the acting career of Nona Gaye — who had roles in The Matrix, Ali and Crash.
Per Billboard, Hunter Gaye met Marvin as a teenager when he was in the process of recording his sensual 1973 hit “Let’s Get It On.” She would later go on to provide background vocals for his No. 1 disco song “Got to Give It Up” in 1977. The two married in the same year before divorcing in 1981.
During their time together, Marvin also dedicated his Marvin Gaye Live! single “Jan,” to her as well as the 1976 album I Want You. Reportedly, the LP was “a romantic and erotic tribute” to Janis.
Jan Gaye is credited for assembling some of Marvin’s iconic ensembles for performances. The late stylist put together Marvin’s iconic silver and red-laced platform boots, beaded denim shirt and red cap outfit that he wore at his historical Marvin Gaye Live! Oakland concert. See video below.
Janis Hunter Gaye is survived by her sister Shawnn Monteiro, her brother Mark Gaillard, her children Nona and Frankie and grandson Nolan Pentz.
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May she rest in peace.