|Single by Marvin Gaye|
|from the album Midnight Love|
|B-side||"Sexual Healing (Instrumental Version)"|
|Released||September 30, 1982|
|Recorded||1982; Ohain, Belgium|
|Genre||R&B, soul, funk, boogie|
|Length||4:05 (album version)
3:59 (single version)
4:39 (alternate vocal)
|Writer(s)||Marvin Gaye, Odell Brown|
|Marvin Gaye singles chronology|
"Sexual Healing" is a 1982 song recorded by American singer Marvin Gaye on the Columbia Records label. It was his first single since his exit from his long-term record label Motown earlier in the year, following the release of the In Our Lifetime album the previous year. People described it as "America's hottest pop-culture turn-on since Olivia Newton-John suggested she wanted to get 'Physical'." It's listed at No. 233 on the Rolling Stone list of its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
By 1981, Marvin Gaye had moved from Los Angeles to Honolulu and London. Gaye left due to fear of imprisonment from failure to pay taxes to the IRS. Gaye also left because, according to several memoirs, he had felt unloved and not respected in his home country. Gaye also struggled with the separation with his second wife, Janis, and the separation between him and his children Marvin III, Nona and Frankie. After meeting Freddy Cousaert, Gaye moved to Cousaert's Belgium residence in Ostend and began to live comfortably among the beaches of the Belgian coastal city. Gaye, who struggled with drug addiction and depression, then began fighting to regain his professional career, which had stifled after the release of two ambitious concept albums, Here, My Dear (1978) and In Our Lifetime (1981), the latter album being the last album released with Gaye's longtime label, Motown Records, and a record Gaye angrily assumed was released without his consent by the label. Gaye had negotiated for seven months to release himself from Motown and in March 1982 had finally settled for a deal with CBS' Columbia division. Gaye began working on his first post-Motown album in April in Europe.
After gaining a sense of sobriety and exercising himself back to respectable health, Gaye began his comeback with a series of European concerts, first in England and then two shows in Belgium, the second show being televised for Belgian television. After the short tour, two of Gaye's touring musicians, guitarist Gordon Banks and keyboardist Odell Brown, stayed with the singer as he had thought of a melody he had gotten from listening to reggae music while in England. Gaye had improvised the lyrics to the song and a demo tape would showcase Gaye's hard work at the song. While he finished the song, Rolling Stone critic David Ritz had arrived to Belgium to talk to Gaye while apparently working on an article about the singer for the magazine, according to Odell Brown and Freddy Cousaert years later. Ritz insisted that he was there to finish a round of interviews with Gaye as they worked on an autobiography. Ritz claimed that while staying at Gaye's apartment that he was shocked by several pornographic comic book magazines that Gaye had in his collection and was said to have told Gaye, "you need some sexual healing." Gaye then, according to Ritz, told the critic to "write a poem". However, in an interview years later, Freddy Cousaert said that the song was solely written by Gaye and Odell Brown and that the only credit Ritz had with the song was the title. The original release of Midnight Love credits the song to Gaye and Brown alone, though the "Special Thanks" credits acknowledge that Ritz came up with the title. Cousaert alleged Ritz had told Gaye and Cousaert that he wanted $10,000 for credit to the song title. In his book, Marvin Gaye, My Brother, Gaye's brother Frankie said that Ritz's "contribution" was telling Gaye, "not only are you sexy, your music is healing", leading Gaye to use the title "Sexual Healing", and write the lyrics. Ritz later sued Gaye for $15 million for songwriting credit. Gaye died before the lawsuit could be settled but Gaye's estate, which was led by Gaye's eldest son Marvin III, settled to give Ritz partial credit. The song's other composer, Odell Brown, said in a documentary that he had never met Ritz and assumed Ritz was just there for an interview.
Gaye recorded the song at Studio Katy, Ohain. To assist him with the song, Gaye reconnected with old friend and mentor Harvey Fuqua, who is credited with delivering the memorable whispering intro to the song. Gaye did most of the background vocals himself with Fuqua and Gordon Banks also singing in the background, helping to give the song a modern doo-wop feel, as had been with most of Gaye's recordings. While some of the music had a strong reggae, Caribbean feel, Gaye added a drum track, percussive instruments, keyboards, synthesizers and organ, to bring in synthpop, funk and gospel elements. Gordon Banks was the only other musician credited for playing on the song, adding in smooth rhythm guitar riffs. Gaye was sure the song would be a huge hit and after playing the song back to Columbia Records' R&B head Larkin Arnold, the executive was also sure of the song's success. After Gaye finished an album to accompany the song - Midnight Love - Columbia issued "Sexual Healing" that September. According to a recent article, this song was the first major hit single to use the Roland TR-808, though it would not become common fodder, as the TR-808 would mainly used to produce songs of the electronica and hip hop genres.
Release and initial acclaim 
Following its release as a single on September 30, 1982, the song became a crossover success. By November, it reached number-one on the Hot Black Singles chart and had become the fastest-selling R&B single by any artist since 1977, the same year Gaye had his last number-one with the dance anthem, "Got to Give It Up". By December, it had reached the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number-three the following January. It also was successfully on various radio stations and dance clubs. As a result, the song also appeared at number-eight on the Hot Dance/Disco chart and number thirty-four on the Adult Contemporary charts. Eventually, the song would be certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and total unit sales reached two million copies.
The success wasn't just domestic. The song was also released to radio stations overseas finding its main success in several European countries, New Zealand and Canada. By that December, the song had reached the top ten on the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number four and also peaked at number-three in the Netherlands and reached the same position in Belgium that same month. By early 1983, it had also reached number-one in Canada and New Zealand, staying at the top spot in the latter country for six weeks. It also would eventually reached the top 40 in other European countries such as Sweden, Italy, Switzerland and Germany.
The success of the single extended critically as well, and in March 1983, Gaye walked away with two Grammy Awards for the song, including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and the instrumental version of the song won the Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental Performance. It lost out in the Best R&B Song by Bill Champlin of Chicago, Jay Graydon and Steve Lukather of Toto, who wrote George Benson's hit, "Turn Your Love Around". Gaye performed "Sexual Healing" live on the show and the performance was later issued on the album, Grammy's Greatest Moments Volume I, in 1994. He later billed his last tour as the Sexual Healing Tour, which started in April 1983. Gaye also won an American Music Award for the single. The song was later ranked number 231 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In its 2011 list, it dropped two places to No. 233. In 2007, it was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
- Lead vocals by Marvin Gaye
- Background vocals by Marvin Gaye, Harvey Fuqua and Gordon Banks
- Guitars by Gordon Banks
- Drums, keyboards, synthesizers, organ, orchestra bells, glockenspiel, bells, finger cymbals, bongoes and congas by Marvin Gaye
- Written by Marvin Gaye and Odell Brown
- Produced by Marvin Gaye
|Canadian RPM Singles Chart||1|
|Dutch Top 40||3|
|VRT Top 30||3|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||1|
|Irish Singles Chart||7|
|Italian Singles Chart||37|
|Swedish Singles Chart||17|
|German Singles Chart||23|
|UK Singles Chart||4|
|U.S. Billboard Pop Singles||3|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Black Singles||1|
|U.S. Billboard Club Play Singles||8|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Singles||34|
Chart procession and succession 
"Love Come Down" by Evelyn King
|U.S. Billboard Hot Black Singles number-one single
November 6, 1982 – January 8, 1983
"The Girl Is Mine" by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
"Pass the Dutchie" by Musical Youth
|New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart number-one single
January 21, 1983 – February 25, 1983
"I Don't Wanna Dance" by Eddy Grant
"Africa" by Toto
|Canadian RPM Singles Chart number-one single
February 19, 1983 – February 26, 1983
"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" by Culture Club
Soul Asylum version 
|Single by Soul Asylum|
|from the album No Alternative|
|Released||October 26, 1993|
|Writer(s)||Marvin Gaye, Odell Brown, David Ritz|
"Sexual Healing" was covered in 1993 by Minneapolis alternative rock band Soul Asylum for the charity compilation No Alternative. Despite not being promoted as a single, the song managed to peak at number ten on the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks.
|U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks||10|
Sarah Connor version 
|Single by Sarah Connor featuring Ne-Yo|
|from the album Soulicious|
|B-side||"Get It Right"|
|Released||29 June 2007|
|Format||CD single, CD maxi single, digital download|
|Recorded||Saal 4 (Berlin, Germany)|
|Writer(s)||Marvin Gaye, Odell Brown, David Ritz|
|Producer||Kay D., Rob Tyger|
In 2007, the song was covered by German singer–songwriter Sarah Connor for her studio album of covers, Soulicious (2007). A re-recorded version featuring American singer–songwriter Ne-Yo was released as the album's second single on 29 June 2007. On the same album, Connor performed a posthumous duet with Gaye entitled "Your Precious Love".
The song's music video is placed in the story of the 1986 erotic drama film 9½ Weeks, featuring representative scenes from the film, e.g. the well-known "ice scene", Connor being fed by a Ne-Yo doppelgänger, and her homemade striptease. Apart from the original movie, this video is the only one which repeats the sex scene on the stairs in the rain. Ne-Yo was not available the day the music video was shot, so a Ne-Yo doppelgänger was used. Connor stated that she was slightly drunk during the shoot of the video.
Track listing 
- European CD single
- "Sexual Healing" (Video Version featuring Ne-Yo) – 3:52
- "Sexual Healing" (Original Radio Edit) – 3:51
- European CD maxi single
- "Sexual Healing" (Video Version featuring Ne-Yo) – 3:52
- "Sexual Healing" (Original Radio Edit) – 3:51
- "Get It Right" – 4:20
- "Sexual Healing" (Video featuring Ne-Yo) – 4:04
- Online Access: Making of "Sexual Healing"
|Austrian Singles Chart||45|
|European Hot 100 Singles||44|
|German Singles Chart||11|
|Swiss Singles Chart||41|
Other cover versions 
Since its release, "Sexual Healing" has become one of the most influential singles in pop music, having been covered by several artists including Phish and blue-eyed soul singers such as Michael Bolton (2000). It has also become a staple for hip hop samples.
- In 1987, on the Moonlighting episode "Cool Hand Dave", Curtis Armstrong performed the song in its entirety.
- In 1988, George Michael performed the song live at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute.
- Big Daddy Kane's 1989 song "Smooth Operator" samples a bit from "Sexual Healing" using interpolations of Gaye singing "operate" from the track and Erick Sermon (who sampled the song on his 2001 song "I'm Hot").
- Australian singer/songwriter Anita Lane covered the song on her first solo album Dirty Pearl in 1993.
- Rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony interpolated Gaye's "Get up, get up, get up, get up/Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up" chant for their 1995 hit "1st of tha Month".
- The backing beat is sampled for the instrumental of "Envy" by Fat Joe on his album Jealous One's Envy (1995).
- The song is sampled in the remix of Solo's 1995 song "Where Do You Want Me to Put It".
- American/Jamaican dance group Max-A-Million performed a modern version of "Sexual Healing", which was an R&B-type remix of the original reggae rendition Max-A-Million recorded. This version featured a more upbeat rhythm and rap-like verses. It was released in 1996.
- Kenyan artist Hardstone sampled the backing track for his 1996 hit single "Uhiki-a".
- The backing beat was sampled for a remix of Keith Sweat's 1996 hit "Twisted".
- Smooth jazz bassist Craig T. Cooper sampled the song on the backing beat for his song "When You Love Somebody" for the 1996 album, Romantic Letter.
- Master P used elements of the song on "Bourbon and Lacs" for 1997's Ghetto D, a song about the lives of "playas" in the New Orleans area.
- Jazz group Fourplay covered the song on their album 4 (1998).
- The song has been covered by Ben Harper in many of his live concerts and remains one of his most popular songs. One version appears on his 2001 live album Live from Mars.
- In 2002, Darren Hayes recorded a cover during a Capital Radio session.
- In 2005, English singer–songwriter Kate Bush released her Celtic-accented cover as the B-side to "King of the Mountain", her first new material in twelve years. That same year Clam (featuring VDC) released a cover.
- The song was covered by the English indietronica group Hot Chip as the B-side to their 2006 single, "Over and Over".
- The Hot 8 Brass Band recorded a version of the track on their debut album, Rock with the Hot 8 in 2007.
- In 2007, this song was remixed by Alibi vs. Rockefeller with a music video featuring three female dancers dressed as nurses (Lauren Ridealgh, Bayley Darling, and Stephanie Fitzpatrick). It charted at number 34 on the UK Singles Chart.
- R&B Artist CJ Hilton used elements of the song's chorus in his 2011 single "So Fresh" Featuring Nas.
- Australian Country artist Morgan Evans, covered the song during his live set at CMC Rocks the Hunter 2013.
Pop culture references and appearances 
- The song is featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories on the radio station VCFL.
- In the 2002 film I Spy, Kelly Robinson feeds lines from the song to Special Agent Alex Scott, who is trying to win the heart of fellow Special Agent Rachel Wright.
- In 2010, the South Park 14th season premiere episode with the same title was released, mocking at the media attention given to celebrities' sexual affairs, such as those of Tiger Woods. The song is played at the end of the episode and sung incoherently by series co-creator Trey Parker for comedic effect.
- The song was featured on the MTV sketch comedy show, The State.
- In July 2006 Today Tonight performed a report on the controversies of music and how some songs encourage kids to have sex at a young age, naming "Sexual Healing" as one song that encouraged kids to have sex back in the 1980s.
- The first scene in the 2011 movie No Strings Attached begins with the song playing in the background.
- The Last Days of Marvin Gaye. Retrieved 2010-03-07.
- "500 Greatest Songs of All Time:Marvin Gaye, 'Sexual Healing'". RollingStone.com. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- Humo 1994.
- Gaye 2003, pp. 144.
- "Slaves to the rhythm". CBC News. November 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- "Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye". Retrieved 2009-11-24.
- "Grammy's Greatest Moments, Volume 1: Various Artists". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
- VIVA Live! episode aired on VIVA; June 6, 2007 at 3 PM.
- "Sarah Connor and Ne-Yo – Sexual Healing – Music Charts". αCharts.us. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- "Sarah Connor Album & Song Chart History – European Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
- Alibi vs. Rockefeller UK chart history, The Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
- Gaye, Frankie (2003). Marvin Gaye, My Brother. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-742-0.
- Marvin Gaye: From Misery to Ostend. March 14, 1994.