THE SONG GAYE AND RITZ wrote together provided the centerpiece for 1982's Midnight Love, the comeback album Gaye recorded in a small studio outside of Brussels with musicians imported from America. He turned to his original musical mentor, Harvey Fuqua (from one of Gaye's first doo-wop groups, the Moonglows), to help produce what would be one of his most vital albums.

Gaye had regained not only his physical and mental equilibrium, but his commercial touch as well. After several albums that had disappointed fans and critics, he scored major hits with both the Grammy-­winning single — “Sexual Healing” became his ­biggest-selling single ever — and the album. The renewed acclaim supercharged his career and fueled his triumphant, and ultimately fatal, return to the United States.

The chain of events set in motion by Gaye’s successful return to the recording studio confirmed Cousaert’s worst fears. He had wanted to keep Gaye under his wing and manage the singer’s comeback from the safe haven of Ostend, but when Gaye’s mother in the United States needed emergency surgery, Gaye left Ostend abruptly.

He never came back.

American Airlines offers regular service to Brussels, Belgium, which is less than two hours away from Ostend by car or train.