Staggering collection of Marvin Gaye's unheard music surfaces in Ostend

Unreleased music by American singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye has been unearthed in Ostend exactly 40 years after his death. A Belgian family living in the coastal city has kept 30 tapes containing 13 hours of music, De Standaard reported on Tuesday morning.

Gaye's time in Belgium

During a one-year stay in Belgium, Gaye wrote and recorded hours of music that has yet to be released to the public. The tapes are part of 216 objects left in an 18th-century villa the musician bought. Included in the items, which have since been catalogued by lawyer, Alex Trappeniers, are around 50 costumes.

In 1981, following a second divorce and trouble with tax authorities, Gaye arrived in Ostend with the help of Belgian club owner and music promoter Freddy Cousaert. He stayed at Cousaert's Mercure Hotel until he came across a villa in Moere owned by West Flemish musician Charles Dumolin. After purchasing the villa, Gaye and his bandmates worked on the album Midnight Love, featuring the singer's hit single Sexual Healing, which won him his first two Grammy Awards.

When Gaye was forced to leave Belgium due to visa issues, he left the villa with a note that read, "Sorry about the mess, do what you want with it." The 22-room villa was filled with demos, notes, costumes and other items left behind by the singer.

"Eight versions of Sexual healing which no one has ever heard before."

Dumolin's wife at the time, Greta Mestdagh, kept track of everything and brought the recordings to Trappeniers' office four years ago. "Since then, I have listened to and catalogued every second," he said. "There are 66 pieces of music, 38 of which feature Marvin's voice. At least one of them is as strong as Sexual healing. There are also eight versions of Sexual healing which no one has ever heard before."

On Monday, Trappeniers met with the lawyer for Gaye's children to discuss how to proceed. “The tapes belong to the Mestdagh family, but the intellectual property belongs to the three children. I want to explain to them how important this is. They should not make the same mistake as their father and hide this music," he stated.

©Love Oostende

Gaye helped shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, earning him the nicknames the "Prince of Motown" and the "Prince of Soul". Shortly after his stint in Belgium, he was killed when his father shot him during an argument the day before his 45th birthday.

#FlandersNewsService |Prince Charles of Belgium, Freddy Cousaert and Marvin Gaye in Ostend, 1981. ​
©Belga Photo Archive

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