Saturday, 6 June 2015

1970, Deaths: American singer Tammi Terrell dies aged 24

On March 16th 1970, American Motown artist Tammi Terrell died, she was only 24 years old. Tammi Terrell was born as Thomasina Winifred Montgomery on April 29, 1945. She was the older of 2 children born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Thomas Montgomery and Jennie Graham. She lived with her parents at 1327 W. York Street, where her father operated a barber shop.

After graduating from Germantown High School, Thomasina entered the University of Pennsylvania and majored in psychology for two years, but left college to enter the music business. She recorded two solo singles for the Scepter/Wand label as Tammy Montgomery. Both singles released in 1961, "If You See Bill", and "Voice of Experience", failed to chart. Afterwards she performed in 1962 at the Rip Tide in Wildwood, New York, with Steve Gibson and the Redcaps. In 1963 she performed with James Brown and released the single "I Cried". Next she signed with Checker Records' label, releasing one single, "If I Would Marry You".
Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
In 1965 she signed with Motown Records. During this period she changed her name from Tammi Montgomery to the more "catchy" Tammi Terrell, scoring a couple of Top 30 singles in 1966: "I Can't Believe You Love Me" and "Come on and See Me".
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye
In 1967 she met Marvin Gaye and they recorded duets including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Your Precious Love". That fall while they sang "Your Precious Love" onstage at Ogden Hall at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, she collapsed into Marvin's arms. She was promptly hospitalised and was later diagnosed with brain cancer. Terrell would undergo eight separate operations over the next three years for cancer; suffering from memory loss and blindness, she became too sick to sing. Tammi Terrell was buried in Mount Lawn Cemetery in Philadelphia. Marvin Gaye was devastated by her death. He took a long hiatus from live performances...

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell: "Ain't no Mountain High Enough" (1967)
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell: "Your Precious Love" (1969)

1 comment:

  1. Such a tragedy as I loved her duets with Marvin Gaye. Unbelievable that she was just 24 years old when she left us!