Between Takes: McKinley Jackson and Marvin Gaye’s Enduring Friendship

On Episode 022 of Between Takes, McKinley Jackson talks about working with Marvin Gaye.

Welcome to Between Takes; where artists and musicians tell stories about what happens behind the scenes.

WDET’s Sam Beaubien has been dedicated to making music in Detroit for 20 years, and this series connects you with the stories he has heard on gigs and at recording sessions.

Get a look into Stevie Wonders audition for Motown Records, sessions with funk master George Clinton, renowned hip-hop producer J Dilla’s first days with a drum machine, and many more stories about what shaped the legacy of this musical city. 

Episode 022

McKinley Jackson has worked with almost all the major record labels and a lot of independent labels from the 1960s through the 1980s, allowing him to collaborate with many great musicians. After working as a session musician at Motown in high school, he went on to become a highly sought after arranger, record producer, and music director. He has a deep understanding of how music works and a track record to prove it.

Matt Thibdeau
Matt Thibdeau

Being a music director for tours is a tough job: You write the arrangements that the band performs, you coordinate the musicians, and you have to work with everyone’s personality and ego. McKinley Jackson has been a music director for a long time, working with acts including the Temptations and Marvin Gaye.

McKinley and Marvin became close while working together. Through touring and recording together, McKinley got to know Marvin Gaye on a personal level. He was his music director until Marvin Gaye passed away and even arranged the music for his funeral. He also recorded with him on the album Midnight Lover (known for the hit song, “Sexual Healing”).


The High Schooler That Skipped School for Motown

When You Know It’s A Hit

McKinley Jackson Learns to Sweeten the Track

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  • Sam Beaubien
    Sam Beaubien is a musician, composer, producer, and educator in Detroit. He is also the founder and leader of the acclaimed ensemble, Will Sessions.