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SPOTLIGHT ON TAMMI TERRELL


It is with great pleasure to do a spotlight on the fabulous Tammi Terrell.

Tammi was born on 29th April 1945 in Philadelphia, USA to parents Thomas and Jennie Montgomery.


Her early years were blighted by an incident that left her suffering from health issues relating to mental and physical trauma. She was walking home from school when 3 boys jumped her, assaulted and raped her, she never got over the trauma but only spoke about it once in an interview quite a few years later. Growing up, Tammi constantly suffered with headaches and migraines.


Tammi started her singing career recording for Scepter/Wand records whilst she was still a teenager. In 1962 the 17-year-old began a very abusive relationship with James Brown, aged 29 and she spent 2 years as a member of his touring live show.


Whilst they were on the road in 1965, James assaulted Tammi because she had not watched his full performance. Thankfully Tammi left James and walked away from the relationship. The assault was witnessed by Bobby Bennett, formerly of the Famous Flames, he said ‘he beat Tammi terrible, she was bleeding and she has left Brown because she didn’t want to get her butt whipped’.


Tammi signed for Motown in 1965 and soon found a duet partner and life-long friend in Marvin Gaye. They had a string of hits that we all know and love, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” released in 1967, “You’re All I Need to Get By” released in 1967 and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” released in 1968 to name just some of their hits.


Tammi began a relationship with David Ruffin, lead singer with the Temptations and eventually she was very happy to accept his marriage proposal. Tammi announced their engagement onstage only to discover that Ruffin already had a wife, 3 children and a girlfriend in Detroit! This, along with Ruffin’s drug addictions, led to several violent arguments between the two.


Even after Tammi had become a star, she continued to have headaches and migraines which she had had since childhood. On October 1967 while performing with Marvin Gaye at the Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia, Tammi collapsed into Marvin’s arms whilst they were singing ‘Your Precious Love’.


Doctors diagnosed a malignant tumour on the right side of her brain and she underwent brain surgery in early 1968.


Tammi continued to perform live and record new songs, she was optimistic and hopeful for the future, however, her tumour worsened and it was found that she needed more surgery. In 1969 Doctors finally advised her to retire from live performances and she was too ill to record any new music.


It was in 1969 that Tammi made her final public appearance, she attended the Apollo Theatre where Marvin Gaye was performing. When Marvin saw her, he rushed to her side and the duo began singing “You’re All I Need To Get By” to the absolute delight of the audience. They received a standing ovation.


We’ll be releasing the full story on Tammi Terrell via our YouTube Channel very soon so stay tuned via our blog for updates!

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