As the world celebrates 50 years of Marvin Gaye’s timeless and prolific ‘What’s Going On’ album, Motown Museum continues to lead the marking of this significant global occasion with a newly announced series of official events and initiatives celebrating and honoring the late singer and his contributions to the history of Motown, including details of an exclusive Marvin Gaye VIP tour experience, commemorative branded merchandise and the naming of “Marvin Gaye Drive” near the artist’s former home in Detroit. Motown Museum has been celebrating the legacy of Marvin Gaye since January, when it partnered with the State of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer for a special tribute to recognize January 20—the anniversary release of his “What’s Going On” single—as “What’s Going On” Day. Motown Museum Chairwoman and CEO Robin Terry made the announcement.
“Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ album holds as much cultural relevance today as it did 50 years ago. As the birthplace of Motown, Motown Museum is celebrating and honoring this timeless record, and Marvin’s lasting legacy, in an authentic way with a slate of new and ongoing events,” Terry said. “These moments will inspire reflection from fans here in Detroit, as well as Motown fans around the world who want to join us in commemorating this special anniversary for months to come. As we celebrate and perpetuate the stories of Motown, honoring transformative musical milestones is part of our mission. Our exclusive VIP Marvin Gaye tour allows fans to be in the authentic space where history was made on the day this album was released offering an experience like none other. We will share stories about Marvin’s vision and impact, as well as details about how this album came to be in a way that has never been done. And, we’re continuing the celebrations all year, notably with the naming of ‘Marvin Gaye Drive.’
The exclusive VIP Marvin Gaye tours of Motown Museum will take place all day on the actual anniversary of the album release – every hour from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, May 21. The 90-minute limited capacity tour aligns with the original release date of the ‘What’s Going On’ album and will feature special guest appearances from Motown alumni who will share inside stories of how the album came to life and personal memories about Marvin. This not-to-be-missed, authentic tour is offered at an elevated museum tour ticket price of $50 per guest, and includes a limited-edition gift from the new ‘What’s Going On’ retail collection. The funds generated will support the preservation of Hitsville U.S.A. Tickets can be purchased for the tour here.
Motown Museum is also proud to announce its partnership with the City of Detroit, which will result in Marvin Gaye receiving a permanent place of recognition in Detroit this summer. During the upcoming official street dedication ceremony on Saturday, June 19, the intersection of West Outer Drive and Monica Street, near Marvin’s former Detroit home where “What’s Going On” was conceptualized, will be named ‘Marvin Gaye Drive.’ With the initiative spearheaded by Detroit City Councilman Roy McCalister from Detroit’s Second District, this street naming event will feature dignitaries and remarks about the life and legacy of Marvin Gaye, as another element of Motown Museum’s commitment to dedicating the entire year to this album and its impact.
‘We are proud to share with the world that Marvin will have a street named after him right where his genius and creativity was thriving in Detroit,” said Terry. “With Councilman McCallister’s vision and enthusiastic support from the neighboring community this moment is now a reality that will live on for future generations. We are thankful for his leadership, the continued support of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and those who want to tell the world about this incredible legacy born in Detroit. The enthusiasm for the celebration continues to illustrate that our work in inspiring the future in the spirit of Motown is alive and well in a meaningful way.”
Councilman McCalister said, “Marvin Gaye is an Icon. His presence is felt and celebrated in Detroit and throughout the world, therefore it is an honor to be a part of the commemorative anniversary celebration. Me, my staff, the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan are proud to partner with Motown Museum to name part of West Outer Drive in District 2, in his honor. West Outer Drive was where Marvin Gaye resided and conceived “What’s Going On,” which is widely considered the greatest album ever made. It should be a huge point of pride for all Detroiters to consider that Marvin Gaye created this profound piece of art, and musical history here in our great City of Detroit. The fact that this significant street naming event will also be celebrated as part of the Juneteenth Jubilee Stroll on the Historical Avenue of Fashion, makes a notable fact, that this event is even more important and historic.”
Motown fans wanting to own a piece of the 50-year celebration, can collect unique branded items from Motown Museum’s official collection of ‘What’s Going On’ retail items which will be available for purchase online beginning at 8 a.m. ET on Friday, May 21. With this exclusive merchandise drop, fans can choose to purchase a branded beanie inspired by Marvin’s iconic beanie, and commemorative lapel pin, along with pre-sale orders for a commemorative t-shirt. Additional ‘What’s Going On’ branded items will continue to be added to the collection throughout the year. To view images of the retail items, click here. To purchase them on Friday, May 21, click here.
These events are the continuation of celebratory moments planned by Motown Museum throughout 2021 as part of its yearlong series of events for a groundbreaking album that was named No. 1 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2020 list of ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time.’ Marvin Gaye’s legacy is honored and recognized through Motown Museum’s slate of programming during 2021, from virtual celebrations and signature events like the museum’s spoken word poetry competition, Motown Mic, where contestants performed a Marvin Gaye inspired work and its singing competition, AMPLIFY: The Sound of Detroit.