Tammi Terrell

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Tammi Terrell
Tammi Terrell
Terrell in 1968
Background info
Full name Thomasina Winifred Montgomery
Birthday/Birthplace (1945-04-29)April 29, 1945
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Deceased March 16, 1970(1970-03-16)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genre(s)
  • R&B
  • Soul
  • Pop
Profession(s) Singer–songwriter
Active Years 1960–1970
Record Labels
  • Scepter/Wand
  • Try Me
  • Checker
  • Motown
  • Tamla
Worked with
  • James Brown
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Ashford & Simpson

Thomasina Winifred Montgomery (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, April 29, 1945 – ibid., March 16, 1970), artistically known as Tammi Terrell , was an American singer, one of Motown’s greatest exponents of soul along with her duo partner Marvin Gaye.

Terrel debuted at the age of 13 in a local contest and regularly performed in different clubs, sharing the stage with Gary “U.S.” Bonds and Patti Labelle. In 1961, she was discovered by Luther Dixon and was hired by the label Scepter. Under the name of Tammy Montgomery, debuted with the single If You See Bill, followed by The Voice of Experience the following year. Later, James Brown captured it in one of his shows and signed with the label Try Me, where he released the single I Cried in 1963 and toured. If I Would Marry You appeared under the Chess label a year later, while I was studying at the University of Pennsylvania. While performing with Jerry Butler in 1965 in Detroit, Berry Gordy added her to her artist roster in Motown and recorded the single I Can not Believe You Love Me. Come On And See Me, This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak For You), and Hold Me Oh My Darling followed their Motown debut. Soon after, he formed a duet with Marvin Gaye, who had already participated with Mary Wells and Kim Weston. The chemistry between the two was excellent and in 1967 they released the hit Is not No Mountain High Enough, which was a precedent for many others. Your Precious Love hit the highest positions a year later, in 1968, followed by “What’s Not Real Like?” And “You’re All I Need To Get By.”

In 1967, Terrel was found to have a brain tumor. The symptoms were such that even in the middle of a show she fell unconscious in the arms of Marvin Gaye. Tammy had to withdraw from the stage, but not from the recording studios, although in recent times Marvin Gaye made recordings of Tammi’s earlier ones. After eight operations and various physical and mental impairments, he died on March 16, 1970 in Philadelphia, whereupon Marvin Gaye fell into a deep depression and retired for three years.

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