Thomasina Winifred Montgomery aka Tammi Terrell

By | Apr 29, 2012

Tammi Terrell died from a brain tumor in 1970 at the young age of 24 and with that the career of a R&B and soul singer ended. Had she not died she would probably be mentioned along with Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin as soul greats. Even though her career was short her duets with Marvin Gaye, another performer whose career was shorten with a tragic early death, still are played on radio everyday.

Tammi Terrell was born on April 29, 1945 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Her birth name was Thomasina Winifred Montgomery. By the time she was 13 she was performing live and signed with Scepter Records in 1961 using the name Tammy Montgomery.

Between 1961 and 1964 she recorded songs for three different labels. Scepter Records, where she was first signed, Try Me Records, which was owned by James Brown and Checker Records. Berry Gordy signed her to his Motown label in 1965.

After a pair of singles that were only of moderate success, Motown teamed her with Marvin Gaye. She recorded as a duo with him singing songs composed by the husband and wife team of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson.

On October 14, 1967 just as the team of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell were reaching the top of the charts and recording their second album, Tammi Terrell collapsed during a concert at Hamden-Sydney College in Virginia. Shortly afterward she would be diagnosed with the brain tumor that would take her life a few years later on March 16, 1970.

In all the duo would release three albums. Some of the songs on the albums were songs that Terrell recorded as a solo act and the Gaye vocals were overdubbed at a later time. It is even rumored that Valerie Simpson recorded many of the vocals credited to Tammi Terrell on the duo’s third and final album Easy.


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