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BH 15 TT 4


TAMMI TERRELL – (Gone Way Too Soon)


By: Ms. Bobbie Jones

She was born Thomasina Winfred Montgomery and nicked-name Tommie on April 29th 1945, clearly someone in her family was expecting a boy but in the coming years young Tommie would not disappoint.  She would later have her name changed to Tammie and go on to grace the roster of one of the most legendary record labels in history and that label I think you know as (Motown).

Tammie Terrell’s roots began in the historic colonial city of Philadelphia and BH 15 TT 9she really was a born fighter.  Dealing with the harsh realities of life in the inner city she made the best of her life.  People remembered her as a happy go lucky child with jokes and fun all around.  She sang and danced and performed early, entertaining her friends and family.  Family members stated that Tammie knew she was going to be a star.

BH 15 TT fastHowever, later in her young life something tragic happened to the young star before her star could even get off the ground.  She was attacked and raped by some neighborhood thugs and the event altered her life dramatically.  Family members and friends stated that she later became very promiscuous and some would even call her wild.  She began to seek out the attention of more and more males and most of the time she would find herself attracting the attention of the wrong kind of males which later in life would leave her hurt, battered and bruised.


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BH 15 TT 5Since everyone knew being a singer was in the cards for Tammie (Before she dropped the E on her name) no one was surprised when she signed her first record contract while still in High School.  At the age of 16 she signed with Sceptar Records.  Doing demos and singing back up for the Shirelles would be no match for or next gig which would have Tammie and her family thinking she had made it to the pinnacle.  James Brown and his Revue was the next stop on the Tammie Train and it seemed to be rolling along.

As in any life however, Tammie’s train would have to endure some abrupt BH 15 TT 8stops along the way.  Although, singing and performing with James Brown during the height of his career would have been the greatest thing for anyone, let alone a young teenager starting her singing career it had its problems.  Going back to the point that Tammie would go after and attract the attention of the wrong type of guy, well in James brown she would find that wrong guy.

During their time together it was no secret that James Brown not only touted slogans about being black and proud he also abused the women in his life and Tammie being un-wise in this respect decided to date him and suffered abuse at the hands of James Brown.   Giving the young Tammie some credit for seeing the writing on the wall she knew when it was time to cut her losses and she left Brown when a better prospect came along.


In 1965 the month of April would prove not to produce any April Fools at least not in Tammie’s case.  She would be spotted by Motown founder Berry Gordy as she performed at the Twenty Grand Club in Detroit, Michigan and as they say the rest is history.  A name change was suggested giving her the last name Terrell and taking the (E) off her first name (Tammi Terrell) and on April 29th her 20th birthday she became a Motown Recording Artist.

Tammi would go on to have some slight success with solo projects but her greatest history making songs would come about when she was paired with another Motown Artist nameBH 15 T&M 1 Marvin Gaye.  With Gaye Tammi found what many have said was not just a singing partner but a true lifelong friend.  Gaye cared for her deeply and that would be exhibited throughout their career and life together.

While at Motown, Tammi could not leave that attraction for all things bad behind her. As well as making hits and performing like a pro, she started a torrid affair with lead singer of the Temptation David Ruffin who is also reported as abusing her and even going so far as to hit her in her head with a Motor Cycle helmet before she wised up and ended that relationship but by then the damage had already been done.


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Precious Love

If I Could Build My Whole World Around You

If This World Were Mine

Your All I Need (To Get By)


Terrell and Gaye would enjoy Motown recording and touring success for a few years and then the bottom would literally fall out.  During a performance in 1967 in the state of Virginia Tammi fell and buckled on stage and was caught in the arms of Marvin Gaye.  Now, Tammi had a life time plagued with migraine headaches and after being examined by doctors would diagnose a brain tumor on the right side of her head.

Tammi would endure many operations, 8 to be exact but she would be beaten by the tumor and illness and just six weeks shy of her 25th birthday (March 16, 1970) she would lose her battle with the disease.  Cancer has been known to disrupt many of lives but for those Motown family members and many that loved the young artist they would agree the star that shined so brightly (Tammi Terrell) was taken away much, much too soon.

In her short life however, no one could say that she did not live her life to the fullest.  She lived fast, worked hard and lived out a dream and that dream of hers has endured her in the hearts of many and that is why we honor Tammi Terrell this Black History Month.

BHM Bonus Clip Below


I thank you all for reading, and tuning in this Month and I hope you have enjoyed all you have read and viewed here at Giving it to ya !  And I hope you have learned a bit of wisdom that you can use later in your everyday life.

Read, Learn & Know

God Bless


Photos provided by : Google Images

Videos provided by:  You Tube

Copyright © Ms. Bobbie Jones – February 28, 2015

All Rights Reserved




1. Evan II - March 31, 2015

I hope it’s obvious that I previously intended to write that she never had an ‘E’ following the ‘I’ in the ‘Tammi’ name only. LOL, it takes real work to write accurately! Again what a fine tribute entry for an artist whose outstanding work never loses its impact.

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