As initially announced last November 20, the United States Postal Service will issue a commemorative stamp for American Soul Music legend Marvin Gaye. On January 30, 2019, the first day celebration for the new stamp was set as April 2 — the performers 80th birthday — in Los Angeles, California.
According to the USPS announcement, “With this new stamp in the Music Icons series, the U.S. Postal Service honors Marvin Gaye (1939–1984) — the ‘Prince of Soul’ — one of the most influential music performers of his generation. The stamp design features a portrait of Gaye inspired by historic photographs.”
In keeping with the Music Icons stamps previously issued, most recently the John Lennon stamp released in 2018 in New York City, “the stamp pane is designed to resemble a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve. One side of the pane includes the stamps, brief text about Gaye’s legacy, and the image of a sliver of a record seeming to peek out the top of the sleeve. Another portrait of Gaye, also inspired by historic photographs, appears on the reverse along with the Music Icons series logo. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp pane with original art by Kadir Nelson.”
In a February 19 Instagram post, the USPS showed a photo of a hand holding a simulated Marvin Gaye stamp against the background of the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C., where Gaye honed his early skills, with this text:
“Dear Music Fans,
“We’re honoring the life, legend and sound of Marvin Gaye … with the newest stamp in our Music Icons series. Pictured here in front of Washington D.C.’s @howardtheatre, where he graced the stage, our stamp features a portrait of Gaye inspired by historic photographs.
With hits like ‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,’ ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ and ‘Too Busy Thinking About My Baby,’ Gaye helped shape the buoyant sound of the Motown record label in the 1960s. Released in 1971, his expansive masterwork, ‘What’s Going On,’ is widely considered one of the greatest recordings in the history of American popular music.
“Gaye’s presence and unique sound will live on forever through his music and now through the mail.”
In the summary that prefaces an extensive review of Gaye’s musical career, Wikipedia states this “…American singer, songwriter and record producer…helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an in-house session player and later as a solo artist with a string of hits, including ‘Ain’t That Peculiar,’ ‘How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)’ and ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine,’ and duet recordings with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Diana Ross and Tammi Terrell, later earning the titles ‘Prince of Motown’ and ‘Prince of Soul.’
“During the 1970s, he recorded the albums What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On and became one of the first artists in Motown … to break away from the reins of a production company. … in the early 1980s, he released the 1982 Grammy Award-winning hit ‘Sexual Healing’ and its parent album Midnight Love. …Since his death [April 1, 1984], many institutions have posthumously bestowed Gaye with awards and other honors—including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, [and induction into] the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
Music Icons Series
The following text accompanied the launch of the Music Icons commemorative stamp series:
“Recognizing the significance of American music in popular culture around the globe, the U.S. Postal Service proudly announces the launch of the exciting new Music Icons stamp series in 2013. The performers selected for the series can include solo artists or groups, and will represent diverse eras and types of music. All panes will feature the Music Icons logo, branding each release like a record label would. Additionally, panes will resemble the sleeve of a 45 rpm single, with the sliver of a record seeming to peek out the top of one side, and an enlarged version of the stamp art on the other. A pane honoring Lydia Mendoza, one of the first and greatest stars of Tejano music, inaugurates the series, with panes honoring Johnny Cash and Ray Charles following later in the year.”
The first three 2013 stamps in the US Postal Service’s Music Icons series celebrated Lydia Mendoza (Scott 4786), Johnny Cash (4789) and Ray Charles (4807), shown here.
All stamps in the series have been square “Forever” stamps issued in panes of 16 and to date all have celebrated single artists and none have celebrated groups.
Prior “Forever” stamps in the Postal Service’s Music Icons series celebrated Lydia Mendoza (Scott 4786), Johnny Cash (4789) and Ray Charles (4807) in 2013; Jimi Hendrix (4880) and Janis Joplin (4916) in 2014; Elvis Presley (5009) in 2015; Sarah Vaughn (5059) in 2016, and John Lennon in 2018.
The latter set a disturbing precedent. The original black & white 1974 photo from which the stamp came was “treated in gradations of color,” creating four distinct stamps for collectors instead of just one (as on previous Music Icon stamps), at a cost of $2.00 instead of 50¢. Scott describes the stamps as “(50¢) John Lennon – red shoulders” (Scott 5312), “red lilac shoulders” (5313), “dark violet shoulders” (5314) and “blue shoulders” (5315).
Customers have 120 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their nearest post office or online through usps.com/shop. They must affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope with the required postage addressed to:
FDOI – Marvin Gaye Stamp
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. There is a 5¢ charge for each additional postmark over 50. All orders must be postmarked by August 2, 2019.