Best national anthem performance of the '80s? Marvin Gaye and the NBA
There is a consensus that perhaps the best, most inspiring version of the Star Spangled Banner is Whitney Houston's 1991 version performed at the 1991 Super Bowl XXV in Tampa Bay during the days of Persian Gulf War. So what is the best version of our national anthem in the '80s? It's easy - Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All-Star game.
In February of 1983, Marvin Gaye was back on top of the world. Sexual Healing was a No. 3 smash and would win Gaye a Grammy that spring. It had been over five years since the man who hit number one with I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Let's Get It On had a hit single. 1983 was also the peak of "Showtime" in Los Angeles as the Lakers were winning championships, so it was a star-studded event when Gaye sauntered to the microphone to perform the national anthem for the NBA All-Star game.
For the next two minutes, America was treated to one of the more soulful and dare I say sexiest versions of The Star Spangled Banner and crowd reactions in the video echo that sentiment. Gaye's version was as special as the game itself as 12 of the 24 players in that 1983 All-Star game went on to be inducted in the Basketball Hall Of Fame including All-Star game MVP Julius Irving (Dr. J). Other future HOF'ers on the court that day were Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, Moses Malone, Isiah Thomas, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, David Thompson, Jamal Wilkes, Robert Parish and Alex English.
While everyone knows that Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles was the first video aired by MTV, nobody remembers that Gaye's All-Star version of the Star Spangled Banner was the very first video aired on VH1 when it debuted on Jan. 1, 1985.
Sexual Healing was the only Top 40 hit Gaye had during the '80s as on April 1, 1984, a drug-influenced Gaye was shot and killed by his father while intervening in a fight between his parents. Gaye's father was sentenced to six years voluntary manslaughter but never served any of it after it was revealed he was suffering from a brain tumor. He lived 14 more years until dying in 1998 after spending the last 12 years of his life in a nursing home.
The latest-posthumous news about Gaye is that his estate was awarded $7.3 million after it was deemed that Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines (the second-biggest hit of 2013) violated copyrights by sounding too much of Got To Give It Up without permission or compensation.