Monday, June 9, 2008

Payin' Homage

In the spring of 1970, the sweet voice of Tammi Terrell was silenced forever. Terrell, with such a promising career ahead of her, passed away on March 16, 1970 at the tender age of 24. Born Thomasina Winifred Montgomery on April 29, 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,Tammi is best known for her sensual duets with Marvin Gaye. However, Tammi's career started long before she signed to Motown Records. At the age of 13, Tammi was the opening act for Gary "U.S" Bonds and Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles. She would go on to record with various labels. She garnered a little attention with the 1963 single "I Cried", released on James Brown's Try Me record label. After joining the Motown family, Tammi released the album Irresistible. In a genius move, Motown paired Tammi with Marvin Gaye. The chemistry was undeniable and the two went on to sing some of the greatest love songs of the soul music era. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was a Top 20 hit, the duo found success atop the R&B charts with "Your Precious Love," "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing," and "You're All I Need To Get By." During a 1967 concert, Tammi collapsed in Marvin's arms and was later diagnosed with a brain tumor. Tammi could no longer perform live but she continued to record with Marvin. After 8 operations, loss of memory, and partial paralysis, 24 year old Tammi Terrell died in Philadelphia. Devastated by her untimely death, Marvin took a 3 year hiatus from performing and went into self isolation. Marvin would emerge from a state of depression with the landmark album What's Going On.