What The Fuck Happened? episode 2: ZAPP & ROGER.

by my boy P-Frank Williams (click to visit his site prophetfromit.com)

Lester Troutman knew something was wrong the minute he turned on his cell that morning. It was April 25, 1999 -- a Sunday -- and Troutman already had 25 voice-mail messages. Before he could check them, the phone rang.

"Have you heard?"

It was singer Shirley Murdock, a longtime friend of Zapp, the seminal '80s funk band Lester had formed with his brothers more than two decades earlier.

"Heard what?"

"It's Larry," she sobbed. "He's dead."

Lester's next question was both inevitable and horrifying. His oldest brother was dead, and his thoughts immediately turned to his best friend and other brother. "Where's Roger?"

Shot as well, Murdock replied. By Larry.

That's where memory gets hazy for Lester, where he loses all understanding of time and space. Tensions had been mounting between Larry and Roger -- over money, over the family business, over Roger's career as a solo artist and Larry's role as his manager. But not even their own family saw this coming. Larry Troutman had shot his superstar baby brother, had put four bullets filled with love and hate into Roger's torso in an alley behind the family's recording studio in Dayton, Ohio. Then Larry turned the gun on himself, leaving the first family of Ohio funk stunned and grieving. And the shooting reverberated far beyond the Troutman family, far beyond Dayton city limits. Roger Troutman had been a funk visionary, the man who'd popularized the vocoder talkbox as an instrument and one of the most frequently sampled artists in the history of hip hop -- particularly in the influential strain known as West Coast funk. His murder, and the unthinkable way it went down, was unforeseeable, unfathomable, inexplicable. It was not the way Roger's remarkable life was supposed to end. Lester Troutman ran out into the street, dropped to his knees, and cried.

Police found Roger Troutman at about 20 minutes past 7 that April morning in 1999, in the alley behind Roger Tee Enterprises, the family's Salem Avenue recording studio. Roger had four bullets from a .357 Smith & Wesson revolver in his torso, two in the front and two in the back. Witnesses said he'd been shot as he tried to get out of the passenger seat of a black sedan.

Minutes later, dispatchers got a call: A black Lincoln had slammed into a tree less than a mile away. When officers arrived at the 2100 block of Harvard Boulevard, they found Larry Troutman in the driver's seat, dead from a self-inflicted shot to the head. The bullet, a coroner later confirmed, came from the same .357.

"My brothers and I rode around and tried to collect our thoughts," says Lester of the days following the murder-suicide. "We went to my sister's house, and we wouldn't let nobody come in for a week. ... We got through it with love and bonding.

"A week before was Columbine, and I think there was some type of military conflict [going on]. My mom was watching TV, and she was like, 'I can understand how all those boys' mothers feel.' That killed me."

Word of the shootings ricocheted around Dayton, with pastors somberly reporting the news during Sunday services. The community was stunned.

"It was just so unthinkable," says Dale Degroat. "Larry was the guy in the beginning who told me, 'A lot of money is gonna cross your hands. But never let the money be more important than the people.'"

Nobody knows exactly why Larry Troutman did what he did, but family members say Roger wanted to break off the business relationship with his older brother and manager. Roger's career, independent of Zapp, was on an upswing, and just when Roger's fortunes could have brought new money into the flailing Troutman Enterprises, he was asking for a split from Zapp and, particularly, from Larry's management.

But it was almost certainly more than purely an issue of money. Roger was 47 years old, Larry was 54; for more than a quarter of a century, from Little Roger and the Vels to Roger and the Human Body to Zapp and Roger to just Roger, they'd been part of a team. Now Roger wanted to break that up.

"At a certain point, Roger wanted to do his own thing," says Terry, "which presented a conflict. And so therefore, you've got a conflict that was deeper than business. It was their whole life they'd been together. And then for it to break off? That was a strong move, man. Strong move."

Asked if he resents Larry for taking his brother and best friend, Lester answers quickly. "Of course I resent it. I resent that my brother Roger is gone more than anything else in the world. I resent whatever sickness came over Larry that caused him to do something like that."

Meanwhile, Zapp has reassembled without Roger and begun touring. The group recently appeared at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine alongside funk and hip hop stars ranging from the Gap Band to Morris Day and the Time to Doug E. Fresh and the Sugar Hill Gang. The show, a tribute to Roger Troutman, marked the first time Zapp had performed in front of such a massive crowd without the band's charismatic lead singer and guitarist.

"People see us and say we haven't lost it," says Degroat. "But the truth of the matter is that we lost everything. But God can restore. Roger's not replaceable, but they say that if you have ever built anything solid, anything of value, then it will last long after you're gone."

Roger and Larry Troutman were laid to rest with a joint funeral six days after the shooting, in Monroe, Ohio, halfway between the brothers' native Hamilton and their business and residential home in Dayton. Some 2,000 to 3,000 friends, relatives, and fans packed Solid Rock Church for the service; hundreds more had to settle for a closed-circuit feed outside the main sanctuary. Bootsy Collins was there to pay his respects to the musicians he'd helped break more than two decades earlier, as were members of fellow funk elite the Gap Band, the Ohio Players, and Lakeside. Blues singer Gerald Levert sent flowers, as did Warner Bros. Records. And Rufus Troutman III, nephew to Roger and Larry, performed "Amazing Grace."

He sang it, naturally, through a talkbox.


The Curious Case of Sumjamin Barback

Happy Holidays weirdos...I have a horrendous case of gas, so please keep me away from the egg nog.

In other news, every once in a while, I'll get a call or a text from one of the bartenders at Saints asking if I'd be down to barback. Barbacking has several appealing aspects for me. The obvious is that I get to potentially make double the scrilla and so does Malk...so we both win. Some others are that I get to work a little more closely with the bartenders who have become friends over the years, talk shit with them, and stand a little closer to the sweet booze and ever-flowing beer taps.

On top of that, I get to move around, which is a HUGE plus over just standing in that 4 X 4 DJ booth, which is akin to being in a musical glass closet playing tetris with your best friend for 10 hours, getting progressively drunk while people knock on the door asking for shit.

Another reason I dig it is because service jobs keep you humble. I think that America would be a better place if instead of getting a some office or creative job, going to college or starting a family with a dog named Clark after high school, people were required to serve tables, bartend, bus tables, drive taxis, check luggage, wash dishes, bag groceries or mop floors for at least a year. People's ears would open up to each others stories, they'd become more patient with each other, and learn how to speak to each other intently and with respect and humility. Plus they'd know how to work with their hands, which always comes in.....handy. Over the course of my young life, I've done just about all of the jobs I just listed (including working at a cotton mill; we'll talk about that in another blog entry), which is a big part of the reason you rarely hear me complain about jack shit. Because in most cases, I've seen or been on the receiving end of worse.

I've had angry grocery shoppers throw 2lb bags of uncooked rice at my chest.

Anyway, Malky and I will occasionally split off like Han Solo and Luke on the separate mission , and it always shocks folks to see me behind the bar. It's hard work back there, and having had the esteemed opportunity to work extensively on both sides of it....here's some tips you can benefit from to have an even more enjoyable time as a patron at Saints, or any other bar for that matter.


1-Call your bartender by name every chance you get. Don't shout it though. Random screams of "Ay!! YO!!!!", or that guilt trip look of "don't ignore me motherfucker, whatever your name is", are going to get you slower service, watered down drinks with nasty liquor and less hookups. The bartender sees you, and they know you need a drink. Let them do their job and chill the fuck out.

2-Offer to buy your bartender a shot. Even if they don't take you up on it, they won't forget that.

3-If you see somebody that's ONLY washing glasses and looking down at glasses and towels 90% of the time, it probably means they're a BARBACK dude. Don't ask them to make you a dirty martini and pour four Jack and cokes for you. They're too busy, and they don't get paid to do that. Plus you probably wouldn't want them pouring your drink anyway, they've been wiping up boogers and spit all night, and their fingers are covered in lipstick and glass cuts. You'll be lucky if they can pour or pop a beer for you.

4-If you're a regular, or you work at the bar,...tip your ass off. Overtip. You build credit with your bartenders, and they'll look out for you when the chips are down. And wait until they aren't busy to put in your order. You already get preferential treatment, so wait until shit calms down and they aren't cutting lemons or serving somebody else.

5-Unless you've got the Silver Tongue of Cairo, save that flirting with the bartenders shit for when its less busy, homeboy. The ladies of SNS have been doing this shit for years and have heard everything you could possibly think of. Truck's been at this for like, 15 years. You aint got shit she aint heard. Sure, they'll smile at you and make you feel good, but just know we're clowning everything you said after the bar closes. Do everybody else a favor and keep it moving.

6-Tip your DJs, they can be your bridge to the bartenders hearts. Or at least they'll play some good music for you while you wait for your chance to get past Jorge and gaze into Cooper's eyes like the 12 mohons in front of you. Or, if you prefer to show titties to hear what you want, we're all good with that. I'll be sure to turn away when you do, because you know...I'm married and everything. But thank God for mirrors.

Put some of these into practice, and I promise you that Saints and any other bar will open itself up to you in untold ways.

See you next time from behind the bar....



THIS WEEKEND WAS ONE OF THE CRACKINEST IN THE PEE-DUB'S two years or so in business, and that's saying something.

The first thing you need to know is that Thursday evenings at Saints are back, back, back. See, we're like neighborhood social workers. We don't spend four hours of every Thursday evening on our feet, straining our back and neck muscles staring into laptop screens for the piles of money, the flood of scanty women. That's Friday. We do it because the people of Palms need refuge. They need a night where it's not about laying across the bar while your friend drinks Goldschlager out of your navel. They need a night where it's all about the feel of the bar under your elbows, the feeling of that Glenlivet 18 warming up your chest. A block of time when friends old and new can chatter over the details of another week in the rear view mirror, and toast to the dawn of another weekend staring you in the eye with Rockstar and schnapps on its breath. And that summed up last Thursday evening on the nose. Nick (Myspace) is the new bartender on that shift, and he's a good fella with an encyclopedic knowledge of drinks and almost no wrist muscles whatsoever, so be careful what you order, or you may end up drinking out of someone's body parts before the night is up after all.

The Arsenal was crammed to the gills when I walked in, and by 10:30 the DJ booth was swarmed with tipsy white women in plastic tiaras asking for the usual barmitzvah classics, and one black lady begging for strip club rap. We have a lot of work to do on that crowd. But a few whacks on the head from the Gap Band and they were hoppin'.

Friday was classic Saints, from Jorge's Rocky & Bullwinkle hat and poncho combo to the extended Habibi danceoff and Bobby Darin singalong. After asking me to play Depeche Mode in the middle of a funk set that everyone else was clearly enjoying, one woman told me she doesn't like funky music, a statement I've been trying my best to understand ever since, but still can't wrap my head around. Can anyone tell me what that means?

Wasn't as packed as usual, but I heard you sick fucks drank a couple cellars' worth and tips were falling out the sky. Oh, and can we keep the low lights? Ian?

And Stinkers? Forgetaboutit. Silverlake officially got the palm tree logo stamped on its pale white ass last night. They were eating it up like baby sparrows. You hipster DJs must not be treating your people right. Sneak in a little Ray Charles between all the Santogold mashups every now and then, and thank me later.



Except that Ian's "failed" fireballs could still flambe a housecat.

$3,000 was raised that night to pay some medical bills on behalf of S&S regular Kim Green, currently hospitalized with stage 4 cancer. Thank you to everyone who donated a chunk of their wallets and a small piece of their livers to help try to save a life. Just another example of why Saints & Sinners is the greatest bar in Los Angeles.



The Skinny:
When....This Friday, 12/12/08 10pm-2am

What...A Fundraiser for SNS Regular Kim, recently diagnosed with a treatable Stage 4 cancer and given 6 months to live if she can't come up with the money to treat it

Damage....$5 donation at the door, $10 Raffle Tickets

Fun Stuff...MAD prizes (including a free DJ set from us at your next party), massive drink discounts

We jest and jab in most of our postings, but I'd like to take this moment for some real talk.

If you ever had a reason to come out, we need you to come out to Saints this Friday and party for a worthy cause.

The regulars at Saints are the soul of our neighborhood and the lifeblood of the bar, and one of those regulars who consistently shows us pure love has been stricken with a deadly cancer.

Her name is Kim, and I wish I had a picture of her, but I always see her and her bright blonde hair at the end of the bar, bobbing her head to WHATEVER music we're playing. She's ALWAYS smiling, and joking and whenever I've had a conversation with her, she was positive and kind. I think she may have even bought James and I a round once upon a time....

Needless to say, anyone who's been in her presence knows she's a pleasant soul to be around. Unfortunately, she has fallen ill with a very treatable cancer that she does not have the money to treat, and she has been given six months to live.

So the Saints & Sinners family is hosting a huge raffle fundraiser blowout THIS FRIDAY on our watch to see what we can do to help her through this. I don't have all the details, but here's what I know:

-There will be a suggested donation of $5 at the door
-All drinks will be $1 off, with proceeds going to the fund
-Raffle tickets are $10
-The prizes are abundant and CRAZY.....they will include (but aren't limited to) free tattoo sessions with the best artists money can buy, haircuts at high-end shops, snowboards and gear, clothing, bartending services, and a truckload of other prizes...

-James and I will raffle off our DJ services for a free party at a time of your choosing

With that all that said, we put up toasts and get drunk every weekend for no reason at all.....so this Friday, come show your support for a fellow barfly who needs all the love she can get now to push through a trying time....

See you Friday!

Mama Towed Me There'd Be Days Like This....

Saturday was big, big fun and big, big fucked up.

Getting in touch with my flea-bitten, trailer-park roots

If you check back a couple posts ago, you'll see Malkovich's breakdown of our entry into the wacky world of Stinker's Truck Stop. This bar is the 1933 Group and Bobby Green's new creative piece in Silverlake. I call it a creative piece because just like Saints & Sinners, Bigfoot Lodge and The Little Cave, everything these guys do is pretty much like a work of art....there's a theme. There's gonna be some costume wearin', some hot babes fire blowin', some skunk asses fog pumpin', bartenders CB screamin', some bats a'flyin', fireplaces in log cabins a'burnin' or SOMETHING you won't see at any other bar in Cali....it don't stop with these guys.
So of course the theme for Stinker's Truck Stop is....a truck stop. If the bartenders in overalls or the movie posters of Smokey & The Bandit don't give away the theme there are a couple things that might help you get a clue. The first is the big life sized glossy embossed picture of Burt Reynolds in full cowboy regalia on the door of the men's room. The seconds is his equally startling counterpart, Daisy Duke, on the ladies room door. By the way, I love Daisy Duke, and I always have. I had a Dukes of Hazard action figure set, with the General Lee included. I used to make my Daisy Duke check the engine ALL the time homie. I go way back with this shit. Which leads me to my next point...

Cooper called me a few days back to tell me the big cheeses were thinking about adding me on to the Stinker's saturday with Malky, so they had to try me out for a night. I played it cool, but I was a little shocked. I was thinkin' to myself, "Try me out? They don't think big Sum has what it takes to rock a truck stop?"

But then I had to chill and look at it from where they're standin'. For all they know, I'm the Black dude who moved here from Brooklyn with the hip-hop aura that just happens to be pretty handy with wielding the Rock 'n Roll sword. But they aren't thinkin' that I could naturally rock a Truck Stop. Why would they? That doesn't make ANY sense. But bein' me aint never made too much sense.

I'm from a small town in North Carolina. At age six I lived in a rural trailer park just outside of Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, the world's largest military base and home of the 82nd Airborne (the Navy Seals of the Air Force). In layman's terms, GRAND CENTRAL REDNECK STATION. I lived in the Whitest of trailer parks and went to school in the Blackest of hoods, right around the time crack smoke started pouring out of those little abandoned houses we used to play in after school. Our trailer looked kinda similar to this, except it was brown. Oh, and there were 10,000 fleas inside because our crazy soldier roomate, Russell, refused to clean his disgusting cat:

This is back in the days when I would eat a pot pie for dinner (my only meal for the day), hop on my bike and look for other brown kids in the vicinity...but there were none. So my neighborhood friends were little White kids with names like "Austin", "Jud" or "Delilah" with no shoes who were smoking cigarrettes before they were 11.... what some of you uppity folks might call "White Trash" or "Trailer Trash", but those are words I don't really use because those folks were cool to me when they didn't have to be. So I can't really diss em. Hell, we were all poor.
I'd visit Austin and Delilah and play Connect Four while their parents got beer drunk, watched NWA wrestling and played the crunchiest of bluegrass, red-blooded country music, and classic rock. I'd hear it outta pickup trucks all day, my baseball coaches with the glorious mullets would blast it during practice. When I got older, my pale-skinned buddies would chew dip and play that shit to wind down after track practice.
My cousin Charles from Montgomery is a trucker. He'd come to family reunions, get blasted on cheap whisky and bathtub moonshine, and tell wild stories and crazy jokes he picked up on the road. If you've never known a trucker, the greatest thing about em is all the folktales and legends they tell, especially about Appalachia and West Virginny when you wind up through the mountains. I've taken those drives many a time and it's some spooky shit goin' on up in those mountains man. Imagine driving a semi on a road two-inches wide on the edge of a mountain in pitch black night. Now imagine that mountain was where countless Natives and African slaves got massacred and dumped, drunk and broken-hearted truckers drove off to their death and all kinda ancient American mojo sleeps. The nicknames for roads like "Tombstone Mile" or cities like L.A. (they call it "Shaky"...go figure) come with tall tales a mile high, and I used to hear 'em growin up...at actual truck stops that sold boiled peanuts and tin spitoons, with actual real live truckers inside.
When I was in college, my car broke down on I-85 between Georgia and North Carolina on a ride back to school...I had to hitch a ride with a trucker 100 miles back to Charlotte in hurricane weather and the shit that came out of his mouth was golden. I don't remember too much about it; that was over a decade ago, but the way they talk to each other over the radios had me dyin'. Kind people, those truckers...
So thank you Stinkers, for allowing me to get back in touch with that quaint, country, Southern nougat at the center of my city-boy exterior. That was BIG FUN. But then came...

Getting my car towed so some shmoe could run HALF a marathon

After pounds, hugs and hip-hop sets
Malky and I left the bar
To grab us some grub and head back to Palms
But these bitches done TOWED my car!!!!
SHIT! Aint that a bitch....Silverlake, why so unkind?
Apparently, the City of Angels HALF Marathon was scheduled to go down on Sunday morning. So slick ass City of L.A. put up some signs AFTER I parked that said
Luckily, the kind and lovely Cooper and her beau, Greg, were gracious enough to take us to the pound so I could retrieve my chariot. The scene when we got there was fucked up for two reasons:
1) These mufuckas had the nerve to have a pint-sized German Shepard on a leash barking like MAD at anybody that set foot near the building. And when I say barking, I mean like....they stuffed a little ball of safety pins up the dog's booty and made it eat hot sauce RIGHT before we got there. Total insult to injury, man.
2) There was a line of people there who we saw earlier chillin' AT THE DAMN BAR. So you know we got hoodwinked. These are people who go to the bar every weekend, and they're from the neighborhood, so they KNOW the local parking rules. And they STILL got towed. But you gotta hand it to Silverlake kids, if they're doin it, they're gonna look hip doin it...even if it's pickin' up a towed car.

The girl at the counter is wearing some kind of thrift shop gun holster, the tall modelesque blonde walked straight out of a MGMT video, the chick in short sleeves has a furry collar, and the chick with no sleeves looked like Aeon Flux if Aeon Flux was a dude. Depending on how you look at it, these fools kinda manage to make it look like they're waiting for drinks at a bar. A bar named "Butch's Tow Truck Stop".


MOVIE REVIEW: "Quantum Of Solace"

DANIEL CRAIG'S (or his stuntman's/men's) LEGS ARE AT LEAST AS USEFUL as his arms. Maybe more. Everyone knows it's the arms that get life done, while legs aren't good for much beyond getting you around and kicking toilet seats up. But throughout this movie all four of his limbs are in an almost non-stop flurry of kicking and punching and jumping and dangling off buses and booting corpses aside. He reminds me of that creature Lisa Simpson saw while hallucinating in the dentist's chair that was basically a pair of legs on top of another pair of legs, and it would flip over and over again in place. Action from up top AND down bottom. The same goes for at least half of the cast: it's two hours of apes in tailored suits hopping all over buildings like kids playing Spiderman on monkeybars and doing tons of stunts that are obviously completely physically impossible and incapable of happening. Which doubtless explains the two serious injuries that happened during shooting.

So obviously, a wonderful movie. James Bond knocks off twenty-two well-armed killers with a flyswatter, adjusts his tie, and downs a fifth of cognac in exotic locales across the globe. Quantum was shot on quasi-location, Chile and Panama filling in for Bolivia and Haiti respectively, so you only occasionally have those moments when you feel like what you're seeing onscreen is actually happening in a soundstage in Burbank with a catering truck in the parking lot. And those are due to some unrelated tacky touches, like the requisite villain of obscure European origin and South African accent (here played by the creepy short guy from Munich), a few questionable lines (is there actually such a thing as "Canadian intelligence"?), and some horribly placed product placement (isn't Ford going out of business anyway?). Jeffrey Wright excels as possibly the most grizzled spy in movie history. Everyone is trying to simultaneously shoot and fuck each other. And now all I want to do is stand in a pristine hotel lobby in a fine suit, murmuring priceless information to shadowy "contacts" before making a hilariously dry remark and retiring to my hotel suite to make love to a model/spy.

And man oh man, what love it would be. Now I have an answer for people who ask me which celebrity I think is hottest. Olga Kurylenko. Just imagine this piece of work rolling up on you in the street and telling you to jump in in a bad Bolivian accent. I don't think even the women would be mad at that.


Thursday nights @ THE ARSENAL.

WE'RE THE NEW THURSDAY NIGHT RESIDENT DJS at The Arsenal (link), and this Thursday is our first night. As always, we'll be at Saints & Sinners for our happy hour set, where we will be experimenting with peppermint schnapps in our pursuit of the ultimate holiday drink, which we will be offering as a special throughout December. Then at around 9:30, whoever is more sober (I think it's going to be Sum) is going to drive us over to The Arsenal for phase two of the evening. We're inheriting the slot from our homeboy DJ Quickie Mart, who is currently on tour with Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest.

Both times I deejayed The Arsenal a couple of Thursdays last month, reactions were diverse: bewilderment from the aspiring yuppies at the distinct lack of Fergie; indifference from the swath of college kids who were there just to get wasted and couldn't have cared less if I had thrown on a three-hour long mp3 of fart sounds; and smiles and merriment from everyone else (particularly the waiters). All in all, the Arsenal crowd is slightly less... "eclectic" than at Saints, but you already know how we do. Expect extreme audio exoticness and gratuitous displays of public drunkenness.

What The Fuck Happened? episode 1: MARVIN GAYE.

the funeral

The Sexual Healing Tour opened in San Diego on April 18 and was scheduled to conclude August 14. Few expected him to make it through the dates. As one sideman told Ritz, "There was more coke on that tour than on any tour in the history of entertainment." As the tour wore on, Gaye's behavior became increasingly bizarre. He became ever more obsessed by sex. He invited groups of five or six men and women to have sex in his room while he watched. On stage, he began doing a striptease to his bikini briefs during the finale, "Sexual Healing."

Meanwhile, he was being overwhelmed by paranoia. He hired a phalanx of bodyguards and wore a bulletproof vest except when on stage. He ordered sentries to guard his hotel room doors. He insisted that a hit man had been hired to kill him, and he worried that he was being secretly poisoned. During a tour stop in Boston, reporters sat slack-jawed during a press conference as Gaye revealed that he had hired famed attorney F. Lee Bailey to determine how, why and by whom he had been poisoned during his tour. He added that an antidote potion concocted by activist comedian Dick Gregory had saved his life.

Gaye survived the tour, in a fashion, then crawled home to recuperate at the Crenshaw district home in L.A. he had bought for his parents. His mother said, "When the tour was over, I never saw Marvin in such bad shape. He was exhausted. He should have checked into a hospital... The people around him should have forced him to go, but they did whatever he wanted. That's the way it had always been."

For the ensuing nine months, the Gay/Gaye house was a human zoo. Marvin Sr., Alberta and Marvin Jr. slept in three adjoining second-story bedrooms. (The couple hadn't been in the same bed together for 10 years.) Marvin's brother, Frankie, and his wife lived in an adjacent guest apartment. Most of the time, Marvin Sr. holed up in his room, swigging vodka, while Marvin Jr. holed up in his room, leering at porno videotapes and magazines and freebasing cocaine—often while his mother sat beside him wringing her hands. She said she would cry, and Marvin would say, "Mother, this is the last time, I promise." Marvin Jr. would place a phone call, and men would show up to deliver drugs. Women would come, as well, including groupies and his ex-wives, Anna and Janice, with whom he rekindled sexual relationships. He also beat a number of the women visitors, including Janice. Still paranoid, Marvin Jr. paid to install an elaborate, expensive security and surveillance system.

the Gaye estate, by the corner of Arlington and Country Club in Koreatown

Marvin hadn't lived in the same house with his father in a quarter-century. Besides the childhood baggage and conflicts over the drug use, sex and porn, two other issues festered in the edgy relationship between them. Alberta Gay had had kidney surgery in the fall of 1983. Marvin Sr. had gone back to Washington for unspecified purposes, and he refused to return to California to support his wife during her surgery. Also, Marvin Jr. had learned that his father had sold the family house in Washington during his stay there. He believed his mother was owed half that money, but Marvin Sr. refused to acknowledge that he had sold the property. Although the men managed to avoid one another most of the time, the physical tension was palpable—so much so that Marvin Sr. told his daughter Jeanne, "If he touches me I'll kill him." In his paranoia, Marvin Jr. had begun to stockpile guns when he returned home from the Sexual Healing Tour. He kept a cheap machine gun in his bedroom at one point until his mother insisted that he get rid of it. For reasons not entirely clear, Marvin gave his father a handgun, an unregistered .38-caliber Smith & Wesson, at Christmas time in 1983.

On the night of March 31, 1984, Marvin Sr. was angered because he was unable to find a document concerning an insurance policy. He stormed around the house and yelled at Alberta, whom he blamed for losing the document. He was still angry when he awoke the next morning, Sunday, April 1, the day before Marvin Jr.'s 45th birthday. At about 11 a.m., Marvin Sr. hollered up the stairs at his wife, who was in Marvin Jr.'s bedroom. The son went to the top of the stairs and hollered back that he should speak to Alberta's face if he had something to say. The father hurried up the steps and entered his son's room. Marvin Jr. leaped up off the bed and pushed his 70-year-old father out into the hallway, knocking him down and kicking him. Alberta interceded and the men separated. Marvin Jr. returned to his bed.

The father got up and went down the hall to his own bedroom. After a few moments, he returned to Marvin Jr.'s threshold. He raised a hand toward his son, and Alberta could see he was holding the .38 pistol Marvin Jr. had given him. He pulled the trigger, and shot his son in the chest, tearing through his heart. As Marvin Jr. slumped off the bed to the floor, his father strode forward and fired again. The second shot was unnecessary.

Marvin's brother, Frankie, ran to the sound of shots. His wife, Irene, called 911. Paramedics arrived to find Marvin Sr. sitting on the front porch. They demanded to see the gun before they would enter the house. Irene found it under Marvin Sr.'s pillow and threw it on the lawn. Gaye was rushed to California Hospital. Resuscitation efforts were in vain. He was declared dead at 1:01 p.m.

Everybody pointed fingers and offered theories after Gaye was dead. Jeanne Gay said, "In the past Father had made it very clear that if Marvin were to strike him, he'd murder him. Father said so publicly on more than one occasion." Gaye's bodyguard, Andre White, told author Turner that the case was in effect a suicide. He said, "He wanted to die, but he couldn't do it himself. He got his daddy to do it."

Dr. Ronald Markman, a psychiatrist who examined Marvin Gay Sr., had his own idea about the shooting. "I believe that people kill basically because they're humiliated," he told Turner. "It's not a question of whether you're a pacifist, a minister or a rabbi. It's a question of whether you are capable of being humiliated and whether you are able to deal with that humiliation short of the need to destroy. That day Marvin had humiliated his dad by knocking him down. So you have a 45-year-old man hitting a 70-year-old man. He was knocked to the ground. He got up without a word but he went and got a gun and returned to kill him."

In a jailhouse interview a week after the slaying, Marvin Sr. explained the slaying to the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. "I pulled the trigger," he said. "The first one didn't seem to bother him. He put his hand up to his face, like he'd been hit with a BB. And then I fired again. I was backing towards my room. I was going to go in there and lock the door. This time I heard him say, 'Oh,' and I saw him going down. I do know that I did fire the gun. I was just trying to keep him back off me. I want the world to know it wasn't presumptuous on my part."

Marvin Sr. at sentencing

Asked if he loved his son, Marvin Sr. chose his words carefully before saying, "Let's say that I didn't dislike him."

About 10,000 people attended the funeral, led by the Chief Apostle of the House of God, his father's old church. Stevie Wonder sang, and Smokey Robinson and Dick Gregory gave readings. Gaye was laid to rest wearing a costume from his final tour — a gold-and-white military-style uniform, with an ermine wrap at his shoulders.

An autopsy had found that Marvin Jr. had both cocaine and angel dust in his system when he died. And an examination of Marvin Sr. found what authorities called "massive bruises" on his body after he was arrested, apparently inflicted in the beating and stomping his son gave him just before the shooting. Marvin Sr. was charged with murder, but on September 20, 1984, he was allowed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter, a plea bargain allowed based on his age (70), the physical assault and the drugs in his son's system.

He appeared before Judge Gordon Ringer on November 2 for sentencing. "This is one of those terribly tragic cases in which a young life was snuffed out," Ringer said. "But under the circumstances it seems to be agreed by everybody, including the very able and experienced investigating officers in this case, that the young man who died tragically provoked this incident, and it was all his fault."

Marvin Sr. was given an opportunity to speak. He said, "If I could bring him back, I would. I was afraid of him. I thought I was going to get hurt. I didn't know what was going to happen. I'm really sorry for everything that happened." Ringer ordered a six-year suspended sentence and five years of probation. He banned Gay from drinking or owning a gun. Gay Sr. moved into the Inglewood Retirement Home. Alberta divorced him, after 49 years. She died of bone cancer three years after the slaying. Marvin Sr. died of pneumonia in 1998. Their son Frankie died of a heart attack in 2001.

Gaye died without a will, so his estate was of no benefit to his three children.

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