I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………………….on March 29th of 1969 Marvin Gaye tops the UK Pop Chart with “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. It seems like everyone in Motown heard about this song “through the grapevine” before it was finally recorded. The classic about a man who finds out his woman is cheating on him was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. Strong came up with the idea and asked Motown writers Holland-Dozier-Holland to work on it with him. They refused to credit another writer, so Strong took it to Whitfield, who helped put it together. The song eventually became a Motown classic, but it had a rough start, as executives at the company thought it was too bluesy and lacked hit potential.  Finally, a new Motown act Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded the song as a gospel rocker. Their version was a hit, entering the Top 40 in November 1967 and going to #2 in America. Marvin Gaye’s version was included on his 1968 album In The Groove (later re-titled I Heard It Through The Grapevine).  After E. Rodney Jones, the Chicago disc jockey at WVON, started playing it on the air, Berry Gordy reconsidered and released Gaye’s version as a single, which became even more popular and known as the definitive version of the song. Gaye’s “Grapevine” pounded the charts about a year after Knight’s, going to #1 in America on December 14, 1968. Barrett Strong got the idea for the song when he was living in Chicago and heard lots of people using the phrase “I heard it through the grapevine.” Said Strong, “Nobody wrote a song about it, so I sat at a piano and came up with the bass line.” He took the song to Whitfield, who helped complete it. It was the first collaboration for the writers. This is the longest running Motown #1 hit in the US, where it topped the Hot 100 chart for 7 weeks. It was a sensation in the UK as well, where it was #1 for 3 weeks. Creedence Clearwater Revival released an 11-minute version in 1970 for their Cosmo’s Factory album; it was one of the few songs CCR recorded that they didn’t write. Quite a contrast to many of the band’s compact hits, it allowed them to spread out and jam.