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Tammi Terrell

Tammi Terrell (real name: Tammy Montgomery) appeared in talent shows at the age of 11 and signed a recording contract when she was 15.

In Philadelphia, she was an honour student in high school and had a scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania, but dropped out to be a singer.


Tammi came to the attention of Motown Records in 1965 when she was with Scepter.

She was performing at the 20 Grand Lounge in Detroit when Motown head Berry Gordy heard her and signed her away from Scepter.

She subsequently had four singles of her own, but her biggest hits were duets with Marvin Gaye, the best-selling being Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Your Precious Love, If I Could Build My Whole World Around You, and You’re All I Need To Get By.

Successful albums included United with Gaye and a solo LP, Irresistible Tammi Terrell.

Terrell collapsed in the arms of Marvin Gaye after playing a college homecoming in Virginia in the summer of 1967.

Diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour, she underwent a series of operations – six over a period of 18 months – and died two and a half years later on 16 March 1970, aged 24.

Her death inspired some of the songs on Gaye’s introspective album, What’s Going On? (1971).