Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing

Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: R&B (#1 for 10 weeks), Pop (#3), and Adult Contemporary (#34) ; 1982

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

By 1982, it seemed as if Marvin Gaye‘s glory days were long gone. After all, his last #1 hit, 1977’s Got To Give It Up (Pt. 1), was already ancient history to the what’s-hot-now-oriented music business. Since then he’d managed just four so-so solo R&B charters and not one on the pop side. Plus, he had left his life-long label, was recently divorced, and dodging the IRS. Visiting the exiled Gaye in Belgium, biographer David Ritz noted some pornographic cartoons in Marvin’s apartment, and told the singer he needed some sexual healing. Marvin tossed the idea back to Ritz, who – with a track by Odell Brown on the tape player – wrote out the first chorus in a matter of minutes. In the studio, Marvin played the non-guitar parts himself, while former mentor and fellow Moonglow Harvey Fuqua backed up Gaye on vocals. Although Sexual Healing ended up as the #1 R&B hit of the 1980s, Marvin’s personal healing was cut short by his death in 1984.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Gaye

Lyrics Written by:

  • Marvin Gaye
  • Odell Brown
  • David Ritz


  • Grammy Awards Winner of Best R&B Instrumental Performance for “(Sexual) Healing” (1983)
  • Grammy Awards Winner of Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “(Sexual) Healing” (1983)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (1996)
  • Nominee for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male for “Midnight Love” (1984)