On this day in music history: December 14, 196…

On this day in music history: December 14, 1968 – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye hits #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles charts for 7 weeks. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, it is the first number one pop single for the Motown superstar. Gaye is the third artist on the label to record the song in April of 1967, with previously recorded versions by The Miracles and The Isley Brothers but are shelved. Motown founder Berry Gordy initially believes Gaye’s version it isn’t a hit either so it is also shelved. In the interim, Whitfield cuts the song on Gladys Knight & The Pips who have a runaway smash with it in December of 1967 (#1 R&B, #2 Pop). Marvin Gaye’s version remains in the Motown vault until September 1968, when it is finally issued on the album “In The Groove”. DJ’s begin playing it as a LP cut, eventually pushing Motown to release it as a single on October 30, 1968. Entering the Hot 100 at #34 on November 23, 1968, it leaps to the top of the chart only three weeks later, unseating Motown label mates Diana Ross & The Supremes’ “Love Child” from the top spot. Two weeks after “Grapevine” hits number one on the Hot 100, it resides over a unique Top 10 in which Motown Records holds down five of the top ten chart positions including the top three positions on the chart for four consecutive weeks. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” sells over four million copies in the US, at the time becoming Motown’s largest selling single to date. One of the most frequently covered songs in Motown’s catalog, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Roger Troutman score hit with their versions of the song. Marvin Gaye’s recording is used in the film “The Big Chill” in 1983, helping propel its soundtrack album to multi-Platinum status. Musician Buddy Miles sings it as the voice of the animated claymation group The California Raisins, and hits the charts in 1986. A re-recorded version is also used in a UK commercial for Levi’s 501 jeans in 1985, featuring model and singer Nick Kamen, The commercial prompts Motown to reissue Gaye’s version as a single, and it peaks at #8 on the UK singles chart. Marvin Gaye’s recording of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998.