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Anna Gordy Gaye dies at 92; Motown Records figure

Anna Gordy Gaye, the sister of the founder of Motown Records and ex-wife of musical great Marvin Gaye, with whom she wrote a number of hit songs, died of natural causes Friday at her Los Angeles home, her family said. She was 92.

Gordy Gaye was an older sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, who named a label subsidiary after her. It was for the subsidiary, Anna Records, that Marvin Gaye recorded his early work.

She co-wrote a number of popular songs with Gaye, including "Baby I'm For Real," which was No. 1 for five weeks in 1969, and "The Bells," which reached No. 4, both for the R&B group the Originals. Other songs she wrote with Gaye were recorded by the Supremes, Mary Wells, the Miracles and Gaye himself.

Among Anna Records' releases was Barrett Strong's 1960 hit "Money (That's What I Want)," which became a pop-R&B classic.

Berry Gordy called his sister "the glamour girl of the family," who gave him a place to live when he dropped out of high school. "She backed me up on everything I tried to do and gave me the confidence to be what I wanted to be," he said in a statement Friday.

Gordy Gaye later was known for her role in Gaye's recording the double album "Here, My Dear," issued in 1979 after their acrimonious divorce. A judge had ordered him to record an album and make alimony and child support payments to her from the royalties.

Called "bitterly funny" and "one of the weirdest Motown records ever" by Rolling Stone, it included the song "You Can Leave, But It's Going to Cost You."

Born Anna Ruby Gordy in Oconee, Ga., on Jan. 28, 1922, she was the third child of Berry and Bertha Gordy.

She was 17 years older than Gaye, whom she married in the early 1960s; they later adopted a son. Gaye told biographer David Ritz that his love for his wife filled many songs, including an early hit "You're a Wonderful One," about a woman who lifted his spirits through "words of confidence."

"I sang all these songs for Anna," he told Ritz, author of the 2009 book "Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye."

After his singing partner, Tammi Terrell, died of a brain tumor in 1970, Gaye ceased performing live for several years and credited his wife with preventing his career from collapsing.

"I do believe the fact that I was married to Berry Gordy's sister saved me from getting my contract ripped up several times," he told People magazine in 1979.

The couple divorced in 1977, when he married Janis Hunter, 17 years his junior.

Gordy Gaye lived for many years in the Hollywood Hills home she had shared with her husband, but she moved out in 2005 because of her son's alleged drug use, according to a lawsuit filed by her trustees. She was said to be suffering from dementia, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.

Marvin Gaye died in 1984 at 44 after his father, Marvin Gaye Sr., shot him during an argument. Gordy Gaye's survivors include her brother and her son, Marvin Gaye III, who was with her when she died.

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