Marvin Gaye's ex-wife Janis Hunter dead aged 66 - 'The inspiration for his music has gone'

The soul legend's second wife passed away on Saturday


Marvin Gaye’s ex-wife Janis Hunter Gaye has died, aged 66, her family have said.

A cause of death is not yet known but the family confirm she passed away at her home in Rhode Island on Saturday.

Her daughter, Nona, called Janis unforgettable and an inspiration for working hard to continue to preserve the legacy of the late Marvin Gaye’s music.

Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye

In a statement, Nona said: “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 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.”

The story of Marvin and Janis begins in 1973 at a recording studio in Los Angeles, where the Motown legend was recording his iconic album Let’s Get It On.

Janis was 17 at the time, and Marvin, 34, was with his then wife Anna Gordy.

Marvin Gaye holding his son, Frankie, in 1980
Marvin Gaye holding his son, Frankie, in 1980

Marvin went on to write a number of songs about Janis, and she even featured on Got To Give It Up, which was released the same year the couple were married.

The couple had two children together before divorcing in 1981.

In her memoir, released in 2015, Janis wrote how she was first attracted to the singer after watching him perform on American Bandstand in 1964, when she was just eight years old.

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