The Unusual Genesis Of Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing

By | April 8, 2022

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Gaye wrote Sexual Healing while in Ostend. He went there in 1981 to relax and recover from his drug problems, staying for 18 months. rateyourmusic

Marvin Gaye’s incomparable “Sexual Healing” burst onto the scene, thanks to strong pornography, writer David Ritz, and a coastal Belgium town called Ostend. The massive hit held the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles and reached #3 on the Top 100. “Sexual Healing” became Marvin’s first out after leaving Motown Records after two decades. The quintessentially Gaye song marked a high point in the artist's extensive rolodex of lovemaking music. Last but certainly not least, “Sexual Healing” indisputably holds the crown for best last line of any song, “Please don't procrastinate, It's not good to masturbate.”

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David Ritz and Marvin Gaye in Ostend, Belgium. songwriteruniverse

An Autobiographer, A Belgium Town, And Pornography

After Gaye left Motown in 1982, his career looked about as hot as a Belgium winter. Autobiographer David Ritz failed to drum up any interest in a Marvin Gaye book, thanks to the lack of recent success. "When I met [Marvin Gaye], the intense drama in his life had just begun. He hadn't had a hit since ‘Got To Give It Up (1977). I tried to get a deal for this autobiography, you know, so we could get some money. But I couldn't get a deal. All the publishers said, ‘We aren't interested in a Marvin Gaye book. He hasn't had a hit since, you know, way back when.”

Gaye spent a few years traveling and soul searching before settling in Ostend, Belgium. As he hibernated, working through his litany of issues, the star eventually invited Ritz to visit him. There, Gaye’s expansive collection of strong pornography led to a prophetic conversation between the two.