Frankie Gaye, 60; Singer’s War Letters Influenced Brother’s Hit ‘71 Album

Frankie Gaye, 60, whose experiences during the Vietnam War influenced his older brother Marvin’s legendary Motown album “What’s Going On,” died Friday in Los Angeles of complications after a heart attack.

Frankie Gaye was a radio operator stationed in Vietnam in the 1960s when he wrote letters to his brother expressing his dissatisfaction with the war, saying it was wrong and unjust and sickened him. His experiences influenced several songs on his brother’s 1971 album, including “Save the Children,” “Inner City Blues” and “Mercy Mercy Me,” according to Ralph Tee in the book “Soul Music Who’s Who.”

Gaye, like his brother, had begun singing in church as a youngster. He went on to work with several Motown artists, including Mary Wells and Kim Weston, and provided background vocals on many of his brother’s albums, including “What’s Going On” and 1977’s “Marvin Gaye, Live at the London Palladium.”

On his own, Frankie Gaye composed the soundtrack to the 1972 film “Penitentiary 1" and toured extensively, both in the United States and England. He also released the singles “Extraordinary Girl” in 1989 and “My Brother” in 1990.