“My feeling were… pride at being an American. It was something that… guess you had to be there…that chill that went through your body. You almost cried, it was so devastating. Everyone wanted to go over and give him “five” for what he did. Just shake his hand, Hug him, because it was inspirational. It was unbelievable.” – Earvin “Magic” Johnson
Thirty-five years ago, on February 13, 1983, legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye sang his singular soulful rendition of the National Anthem at the 1983 NBA All Star Game held at The Forum in Inglewood, California. It was the greatest interpretation of the national anthem a sporting audience ever enjoyed. Spectators didn’t anticipate Marvin Gaye to do something so fresh and inspiring.
I remember watching this epic live performance with my family. When the music to the rhythm track began playing and Marvin Gaye started singing, I couldn’t help but to move and groove to the rhythm. Not only me, but many people didn’t expect magic to come out of Marvin Gaye that evening. He literally moved my soul with his voice. I was blown away. Goosebumps instantly covered my arms. This was perhaps the first and only time the national anthem made me want to dance.
When Marvin Gaye concluded the National Anthem, everybody in the Forum including the NBA All Stars gave him a standing ovation. Marvin Gaye blew the crowd a kiss, took a bow and walked off the hardwood like the star of the night. It was PERFECTION. It was a MASTERPIECE.
35 years later, Marvin Gaye has left a legacy for others to follow. That epic live performance lives on as the greatest rendition of the National Anthem.