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Designated “Marvin Gaye Day,” it began with Gaye giving a speech to students at Cardozo High, the school he’d attended, before he and his parents were ushered by motorcade to other points around the city. They visited the office of D.C.’s mayor, Walter Washington, who presented Gaye with a key to the city.
A VIP reception followed at the U.S. House of Representatives’ Rayburn House Office Building, before the evening’s hotly anticipated main event at the Kennedy Center: Marvin Gaye’s first live performance in four years. After opening acts and onstage testimonials by others, Gaye finally took the stage at around 11pm. The legendary concert – Marvin Gaye’s only live performance of his iconic 1971 What’s Going On album in full – was recorded. After being shelved for decades, the recording was eventually released on CD in 2001 within Motown/UMe’s expanded deluxe edition for Gaye’s What’s Going On album.
Never before issued on vinyl or as a standalone CD, What’s Going On Live is newly mixed by John Morales at M+M Mix Studios and mastered by Alex Abrash at AA Mastering for its October 18 release by Motown/UMC. The album is making its vinyl debut in black 2LP with deluxe gatefold packaging, in addition to CD. The vinyl and CD packages include rare photos from Gaye’s performance and new liner notes by Marvin Gaye biographer David Ritz. What’s Going On Live includes the only known live recordings of Gaye performing four songs: “That's The Way Love Is” and “You,” which he opened the D.C. concert with as part of a meditative 13-minute medley; “Right On;” and “Wholy Holy.” Due to an unfortunate lag in switching the first reel-to-reel tape to a second one during the concert, Gaye’s performance of “Mercy Mercy Me” from the What’s Going On album was not successfully recorded.