Unreleased Marvin Gaye music discovered in Belgium

Unreleased Marvin Gaye music discovered in Belgium

A wealth of unreleased Marvin Gaye music that had potentially remained hidden for over forty years has been discovered in Belgium, the BBC reports, along with what has been described as a highly valuable collection of stage costumes and notebooks.

As is known, the voice of “I heard it through the grapevine” moved from London to the Belgian city of Ostend in 1981, in the midst of a difficult period of crisis and thanks to the advice of producer Freddy Cousaert. Thanks to her move to Belgium, Gaye took control of his life and recorded one of her biggest hits, “Sexual Healing”, the two-time Grammy-winning song from her 1982 album “Midnight Love”.

During his stay in Belgium, Marvin Gaye lived in the home of a Belgian musician, Charles Dumolin, whose family now owns the rediscovered material, which the BBC reveals may include some previously unreleased music that the late musician, who passed away in 1984, would have recorded during the Belgian period and which would have remained hidden until today.

To the British news service, Belgian lawyer Alex Trappeniers, a business partner of the Dumolin family, explained the legal situation surrounding the found material and said: “It belongs to the family because it was left in Belgium 42 years ago. Marvin told him he left and said, 'Do with it what you will,' and never came back. That's the important thing.”

Trappeniers also stated that he had numbered the various tapes found and listened to: “Every time a new instrumental piece started, when Marvin started singing, I gave it a number”, added the lawyer: “In the end, after having listened to all the 30 tapes, I had 66 demos of new songs. Some of them are complete and some of them are as good as 'Sexual Healing', because they were made in the same period.” He added: “One song, after listening to it for ten seconds, stayed in my head all day: the words resonated in my head all day, as if the planets had aligned.”

The family of Dumolin, who died in 2019, undoubtedly owns the collection, especially in light of a Belgian law that states that any property becomes one's own after 30 years, regardless of how it is acquired. This, however, does not apply to intellectual property, meaning that Trappeniers and his partners could end up as owners of the physical tapes on which the music was recorded, without the right to publish the songs. Meanwhile, Gaye's heirs in the United States could theoretically have the rights to the music but would not be able to access it without owning the tapes.

Alex Trappeniers therefore believes that it is necessary to find a compromise: “I think we will both benefit from it, Marvin's family and the collection in the hands of Dumolin's heirs”, declared the lawyer: “If we join forces and find the right people , like a Mark Ronson or Bruno Mars…. However, I am not here to make suggestions but to say: 'Ok, let's listen to this and make an album.' And again: 'Morally, I would like to work with the family, but for them this would be a nightmare: someone who comes from a country where there's a lot of money, a deal is made and the collection leaves this country.”