Frankie Gaye (born Frances Gay, November 15, 1941 - December 30, 2001) was an American recording artist and brother of fellow American recording artist Marvin Gaye. Gaye's recollections of his tenure at the Vietnam War inspired Marvin's song, "What's Happening Brother", from the album, What's Going On.
Frances "Frankie" Gay was born in Washington, D.C., the third of four children born to Alberta (née) Williams and Marvin Gay, Sr. in 1941. Both Frankie and elder brother Marvin sung, first in church and then with local doo-wop groups. Frankie worked several jobs in D.C. before answering the draft to serve his country during the Vietnam War at 25 where he served as a radio disk jockey. In 1970, Frankie returned to civilian life in D.C. Emotional conversations between Frankie and Marvin over Frankie's horrific recollections of the war led to Marvin to compose the song "What's Happening Brother", later issued for Marvin's album, What's Going On, released in 1971.
Starting in the mid-1970s, Frankie began working with his brother, joining him on the road during Gaye's concert tours. Sometimes, to test audience reactions, Marvin would place Frankie onstage first before he arrived. Like his brother and, later, their sister Zeola, Frankie added an "e" to his surname. In 1977, Frankie participated in background vocals for Marvin's hit, "Got to Give It Up, Pt. 1". Frankie contributed co-composition rights for music for the 1979 film, Penitentiary. Frankie and his second wife (later widow) Irene were next door to their parents' house on April 1, 1984 when Frankie's brother was shot and killed by their father during an argument. In 1989, Frankie signed with Motorcity Records and recorded two singles, "Extraordinary Girl" and "My Brother", the latter song featured on the album of the same name in 1990. In 1999, Frankie worked on his memoirs, Marvin Gaye: My Brother. The book was scheduled to be released in 2002 when Frankie died of complications following a heart attack in December 2001. He was sixty. The book was later released in 2003.
In 1972, Frankie relocated to Los Angeles where he married his first wife, Judy. The couple had two daughters, Christy and Denise. After their divorce, Frankie began dating a woman named Irene Duncan after meeting in London. They married in 1978 and had three children, daughters April (b. 1983) and Fiona (b. 1993) and son Frankie, Jr. (b. 1992). Marvin's youngest child, Frankie Christian, was named after Frankie.