In 1969, Marvin Gaye took his version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine to the top of the pop charts for seven weeks, far eclipsing the #2 position achieved by Gladys Knight & The Pips two years earlier. It was Gaye’s first #1 single and the biggest hit of his career, not to mention the biggest hit for Motown Records in all of the 1960’s. (And that’s saying something.) Songwriter/producer Norman Whitfield had test recorded the song with several top acts in the Motown stable, including Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and the Isley Brothers, but label head Berry Gordy nixed the release of their versions in favor of Gaye’s and Gladys Knight’s. The legendary Funk Brothers played the music on both versions.
TRIVIA: I Heard It Through The Grapevine is one of the most-covered records in Motown history, with well-received versions made by Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Temptations, Undisputed Truth, and Average White Band. And let us not forget the California Raisins. However, my favorite version is easily that of The Slits.