Twenty-eight years ago this week, Marvin Gay, Sr., received a six-year suspended sentence and five years of probation for the voluntary manslaughter of his son, the R&B legend Marvin Gaye. Gay pled guilty after shooting his namesake dead in the L.A. home given to him and his wife by Gaye, who was 44 when he died.
It was a terribly ugly end to a disastrous relationship between father and son. The elder Gay was a profoundly fucked-up man who had grown up in a violent abusive household as a child, and he readily passed that violence down to his own son. A minister in the House of God sect, he was a strict taskmaster to his children, and Marvin Jr. regularly took brutal whippings from his dear old dad as a boy.
According to Gaye's mother, Alberta, the elder Gay "never wanted Marvin, and he never liked him," making him quite possibly the only person in history who hated Marvin Gaye. He also had a penchant for cross-dressing in his wife's clothing around the house, which deeply confused the young Marvin and further estranged him from his father.
By the time he found fame as an adult, Marvin Gaye had added an 'e' to his last name, not only to deflect possible suspicions about his own sexuality, but to distance himself from the paternal side of his family. As much as possible, he avoided his father. But in 1984, Gaye moved into his parents' home in Los Angeles to care for his ailing mother and battle his cocaine addiction after a long tour.
Paranoid from the drugs, Gaye gave his father an unlicensed .38 Special to defend himself from the people he imagined were trying to kill him. Bad move. Gay Sr. used that very gun to kill his son after he intervened in an argument between his parents.
While Marvin Gay, Sr., represents the unspeakable worst of rock-star parenting, Marvin Gaye was hardly alone in enduring a shitty childhood. The pain of familial strife has colored the music of many stars, but a few stories stand out from the pack. Hold your nose, if you must, and behold the top 10 worst rock-star parents of all time:
10. PATRICK LOVATO
Patrick Lovato, the father of RodeoHouston star Demi Lovato, is something akin to teen pop's answer to Michael Lohan. After walking out on his family when Demi was very young, Patrick resurfaced with pleas in the tabloids to reconnect after she achieved fortune and fame. No such luck for his other, non-famous daughter, natch.
Especially galling was Patrick publically weighing in on the lawsuit filed against his daughter by the backup dancer whose altercation with Demi led to her stint in rehab a few years back. Don't expect a reconciliation anytime soon. Demi put her sentiments into song on "For the Love of a Daughter:" "I can be manipulated only so many times before even 'I love you' starts to sound like a lie."
9. ANNE BEVERLEY (SID VICIOUS)
Any mother that could produce a self-destructive maniac like the Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious is clearly not quite up to the task of parenting. Anne Beverley struggled with her own addictions for much of her life, and her son suffered for it. She booted Vicious out of the house when he was 16, but the two later reconciled. They were so close, in fact, that Sid's friend Jah Wobble would later recall the shocking sight of the pair injecting heroin together.
She didn't stop there. Before his death, Malcolm McLaren wrote that Beverley had smuggled heroin inside her snizz for Sid while he was awaiting trial at Riker's Island for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Rumors persist that Beverley deliberately injected her son with the fatal dose of horse that killed him to prevent his return to prison, but as with all Sid Vicious tales, the truth lies buried beneath the legend. Anne Beverely committed suicide in 1996.
8. MARK EVANS (ADELE)
Neo-soul superstar Adele famously chronicled her troubles with the opposite sex on her Grammy-winning smash 21, but the issues began much earlier with a single man -- her father. Mark Evans walked out his family when Adele was only three years old, and his battles with alcoholism further estranged him from his daughter. Child-support payments didn't exactly arrive in a timely fashion, if they did at all.
Now that Evans is cleaned up and Adele is a superstar, he's suddenly a lot more interested in his daughter. Predictably, he's taken his hopes of reconciliation to the media. Always a bad move, Mark. Adele adamantly claims that her father has "fucking blown" any chance of reunion, and that if she saw him on the street, she'd spit in his face.
7. FAUSTO AGUILERA
Christina Aguilera's career in showbiz may date back to her stint on The Mickey Mouse Club, but childhood wasn't all fairy dust and popcorn balls for The Voice star. Aguilera and her mother have both accused her father, Fausto Aguilera, of physical and emotional abuse that lasted until her parents split when the singer was seven years old.
Today, Xtina remains estranged from her controlling, allegedly wife-beatin' dad, and who could blame her? But the abuse suffered at his hands may have helped to forge a more dedicated performer. In 2000, the singer told Rolling Stone that "there was so much domestic violence going on when I grew up with my dad traveling in the military. I think the reason that my drive was so strong and I was so passionate about music was because I grew up in an environment of domestic violence."
6. MICKEY KRAMER (JOEY)
As the drummer for Aerosmith, one of the most successful rock and roll bands of all time, Joey Kramer had it all: The fame, the money, the cars and all the women he could handle. But even at the height of the band's comeback success, Kramer couldn't enjoy any of it. He was filled with crippling anxiety and depression stemming from the abuse he suffered as a child.
Kramer released a memoir last year, Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top, that detailed his inability to ever please his father, who piled verbal and physical abuse on to his son beginning at a very young age. The drummer internalized the abuse, recreating the toxic relationship with his father in both his marriage and with Aerosmith taskmaster Steven Tyler. For years, Kramer coped with drugs and alcohol before finally getting clean and addressing the trauma in the late '90s.
5. HANK HARRISON (COURTNEY LOVE)
Given Courtney Love's crazed behavior over the past 20 years, it's not super-hard to believe that her childhood was rather fucked. Love was placed in her mother's custody after her parents' divorce after her father, Grateful Dead associate Hank Harrison, fed her LSD at age four.
Draw your own conclusions as to what effect the drug had, but Courtney's teens were mostly spent in foster homes and correctional facilities after her mom ditched her for New Zealand. At 17, she was legally emancipated from her neglectful parents.
Their estrangement didn't stop Harrison from claiming Courtney was complicit in Kurt Cobain's murder in his book, Beyond Nirvana: The Legacy of Kurt Cobain, despite never meeting his son-in-law.
4. MURRY WILSON
Few rock-star dads have ever approached the crazed dickheadishness of Murry Wilson, the father of Beach Boys Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson. A songwriter himself, Murry was a tyrannical parent, belittling his sons at every opportunity and often physically abusing them, as well. Legend has it that Brian Wilson was left deaf in one ear after his father cracked him over the head with a 2x4. DAMN.
The controlling Murry's way extended to managing the Boys' early career, and his crowning achievement was scoring them a deal with Capitol Records. The fucker lorded that over his sons for the rest of his life, even as they wrote and recorded some of the most indelible pop songs of all time. When Brian finally worked up the necessary rage to fire his controlling father, the inevitable guilt contributed mightily to his mental health issues.
3. JOE JACKSON
If Murry Wilson had a kindred spirit in the world, it had to have been Joe Jackson. A frustrated musician working in an Indiana steel mill, Joe capitalized on the musical talents of his five sons by ruthlessly drilling them on songs and routines, often standing by with a belt at the ready should one of them make a mistake.
When belts and switches didn't get his point across, Joe would trip or push the legendary Jackson 5 members into walls, never letting them forget his dominance. As if that weren't enough, Joe allegedly liked to crawl through Michael's bedroom window wearing a fright mask in order to teach his son to shut it while he slept. The King of Pop took revenge for his nightmarish childhood by cutting his father out of his will completely before his death.
2. ORVIS ADAY
Meat Loaf's father damn near tied Marvin Gay, Sr., for the crown of worst rock star parent, but luckily, he couldn't seal the deal. Orvis Aday was an abusive alcoholic, and as a chile, Meat Loaf and his mother often had to drive around to different bars in Dallas to drag him home. The nicest thing Orvis apparently ever did for his famous son was give him the demeaning nickname "Meat," which evolved into Meat Loaf at some point during his teen years.
Orvis' drinking got even worse after the death of Meat Loaf's mother from cancer. In a drunken rage, Aday attacked his son with a knife with the intent to murder him, but Meat Loaf was able to fight his father off and take off for good. Like a bat out of hell, you might even say.
1. JOHN PHILLIPS
As the leader of '60s superstars the Mamas and the Papas, John Phillips was hailed as a musical visionary, the cornerstone of some of the most unforgettable harmonies in pop history. But he was also a completely out-of-control drug addict, which left him in no shape whatsoever to be a father. He sired as many kids as he could, anyway.
A few of them became famous in their own right. Chynna Phillips found success as a singer, and her half-sisters Bijou and Mackenzie became actresses. But in addition to his talent, he also passed down his penchant for drug abuse. Sadly, that wasn't the worst of it by a long shot.
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In 2009, Mackenzie, a former child star, revealed in her memoir that she'd been raped by her father in a hotel room when she was 18 while passed out after a drug binge. Father and daughter carried on a drug-fueled, incestuous relationship for another decade, even after Mackenzie married. The sick, abusive relationship didn't end until Mackenzie became pregnant, fearing that she was carrying her own father's child.