Janis Gaye, the Former Wife of Marvin Gaye, Has Died

Jaelani Turner-Williams Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with…
Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Janis Gaye, ex-wife of late R&B and soul legend Marvin Gaye and mother to actress Nona Gaye, has died at 66.

Janis Gaye, former wife of late R&B and soul crooner Marvin Gaye, has died at 66-years-old. According to Janis’ daughter, actress Nona Gaye, Janis died on Tuesday (November 6) at her Rhode Island residence, although no cause of death was given.

“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,” Nona wrote in a statement per The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

Nona continued, “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.”

At 17-years-old, Janis met Marvin Gaye at a 1973 recording session, where Marvin was at the tail-end of his marriage to first wife, Anna Gordy. In 1974, Marvin would dedicate “Jan” from his Marvin Gaye Live! album to Janis. The following year, Janis and Marvin welcomed their first child, Nona, followed by son Frankie in 1975. In 1976, Marvin would release his fourteenth studio album, I Want You, inspired by his relationship with Janis. In 1977, the two married with Janis was 21 and Marvin was 38. Janis, daughter of  jazz artist Slim Gaillard, would later contribute vocals to Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up, Part 1.”

In 1981, Janis and Marvin Gaye would divorce, three years before Marvin was killed by his father in Los Angeles, one day before his 45th birthday. While managing Nona Gaye’s acting career, Janis would co-pen 2013 memoir After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye with author and journalist David Ritz.

Check out tributes to Janis Gaye below.

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