On May 21, 1971.


On May 21, 1971, “Tamla” label released “What’s Going On”, the eleventh Marvin Gaye studio album. It was recorded June –September 1970; March – May 1971,  at “Hitsville U.S.A.”, “Golden World”, and “United Sound Studios” in Detroit and “The Sound Factory” in Hollywood, and was produced by Marvin Gaye. “What’s Going On” was an immediate success both commercially and critically, and is regarded as one of the most important albums in the music history. “Rolling Stone” magazine ranked it at number six on its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. In 1985, readers of “NME” magazine voted “What’s Going On” the “Best Album of all Time”. “Guardian” ranked “What’s Going On at number one on its list of the “100 Best Albums Ever”.


  • Marvin Gaye – lead and background vocals, piano, mellotron, box drum
  • The Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted and arranged by David Van De Pitte
  • The Andantes – Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps – background vocals
  • Mel Farr, Charlie Sandersand  and Lem Barney of the Detroit Lions – background vocals
  • Dave Bingof, The Detroit Pistons, Bobby Rogersof , The Miracles, Elgie Stover, Kenneth Stover – background vocals
  • Gordon Staples, Zinovi Bistritzky, Beatriz Budinzky, Richard Margitza, Virginia Halfmann, Felix Resnick, Alvin Score, Lillian Downs, James Waring – violins
  • Edouard Kesner, Meyer Shapiro, David Ireland, Nathan Gordon – violas
  • Italo Babini, Thaddeus Markiewicz, Edward Korkigan – cellos
  • Max Janowsky – double bass
  • Carole Crosby – harp
  • Dayna Hardwick, William Perich – flutes
  • Larry Nozero, Angelo Carlisi, George Benson, Tate Houston– saxophones
  • John Trudell, Maurice Davis – trumpets
  • Nilesh Pawar – oboe
  • Carl Raetz – trombone
  • Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers and Solo Horns
  • Eli Fontaine– alto saxophone
  • Wild Bill Moore– tenor saxophone
  • Johnny Griffith– celeste, keyboards
  • Earl Van Dyke– keyboards
  • Jack Brokensha– vibraphone, percussion
  • Joe Messina, Robert White– electric guitars
  • James Jamerson– bass guitar
  • Bob Babbitt– bass guitar Chet Forest – drums
  • Jack Ashford– tambourine, percussion
  • Eddie “Bongo” Brown– bongos, congas
  • Earl DeRouen – bongos, congas
  • Bobbye Hall– bongos
  • Katherine Marking – graphic design
  • Alana Coghlan – graphic design
  • James Hendin – photography
  • Curtis McNair – art direction

Track listing:

  1. What’s Going On – Al Cleveland, Marvin Gaye, Renaldo “Obie” Benson
  2. What’s Happening Brother – Marvin Gaye, James Nyx Jr.
  3. Flyin’ High (In the Friendly Sky) – Marvin Gaye, Anna Gordy Gaye, Elgie Stover
  4. Save the Children – Al Cleveland, Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Marvin Gaye
  5. God is Love – Marvin Gaye, Anna Gordy Gaye, James Nyx Jr.
  6. Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) – Marvin Gaye
  7. Right On – Earl DeRouen, Marvin Gaye
  8. Wholy Holy – Renaldo “Oboe” Benson, Al Cleveland, Marvin Gaye
  9. Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) – Marvin Gaye, James Nyx Jr,


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