Collection of unreleased Marvin Gaye songs found in Belgium

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A collection of cassette tapes containing a host of unreleased Marvin Gaye songs has been found in the Belgian city of Ostend.

It has potentially lain hidden in Belgium for over 40 years, according to the BBC.

The collection, thought to contain 66 demo songs, belonged to the musician Charles Dumolin, in whose home Gaye stayed in 1981 as he underwent detox to fight cocaine addiction. When Dumolin died in 2019, the recordings were handed down to his family, along with a cache of Gaye memorabilia.

Debate has begun over whether Dumolin’s family have the right to keep the material.

Belgian law says that after 30 years, the material becomes the property of the person who holds it, regardless of how it was acquired. The law, however, does not apply to intellectual property, potentially creating a situation in which the Dumolin family are adjudged owners of the tapes but do not have the right to publish the songs. That right may instead belong to Gaye’s heirs in the United States.

Alex Trappeniers, a business partner of the Dumolin family, said: “[The tapes] belong to [the family] because they were left in Belgium 42 years ago. Marvin gave it to them and said, ‘Do whatever you want with it’ and he never came back. That’s important.

“We can open a time capsule here and share the music of Marvin with the world. It’s very clear. He’s very present.”

There is particular excitement about one song in the collection, recorded shortly before Gaye wrote Sexual Healing. Trappeniers compared the track to a “moment of planetary alignment”.

Gaye began his career in the 1960s and found superstardom in the following decade with classic hits such as the protest song What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On, a track that contributed to Gaye’s reputation as a sex symbol.

Struggling with cocaine addiction in the 1980s, Gaye left the US for London, fearing imprisonment in his home country for unpaid taxes.

In 1981, at a London nightclub, Belgian music promoter Freddy Cousaert gave the singer his business card, urging him to move in with him in Ostend while he battled his addiction. During this stay, Gaye is thought to have lived with Dumolin and his wife, Greetje.

In 1984, Gaye’s father, Marvin Gay Sr, who had been physically abusive to his son as a child, fatally shot the singer after Gaye stepped in to break up an altercation between his father and his mother, Alberta.


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