Category: David Ruffin

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R.I.P. Tammi Terrell  (April 29, 1945 – March 16, 1970)

Tammi Terrell was a Motown songstress best known for her duets with Marvin Gaye. They released 3 albums together:

United (1967), You’re All I Need (1968), and Easy (1969). Tammi released her only solo album Irresistible in 1969. 

Tammi was discovered by Luther Dixon at 15 and signed to Wand Records in 1960. By 17, she was signed to James Brown’s Try Me label. He wrote her first charting single “I Cried,” which he later reused for his 1966 hit “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” She became involved in an abusive relationship with James, and left him while they were on the road after he beat her for not watching his entire performance.

Tammi enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania where she majored in pre-med for two years before signing with Motown Records on her 20th birthday in 1965. She opened for the Temptations and began dating the lead singer David Ruffin. This relationship was also abusive, but she accepted a marriage proposal from David. She later discovered that he already had a wife and children as well as another girlfriend. Tammi ended their relationship after he hit her in the head with his motorcycle helmet.

In 1966, Tammi recorded the future classic “All I Do (Is Think About You),” written by a teenaged Stevie Wonder. Her version wasn’t released until 2010 on the compilation album Come On and See Me: The Complete Solo Collection.

In 1967, Tammi achieved success when she was partnered with Marvin Gaye. Their first recording “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was a hit on the charts, followed by many hit more hit records, including “Your Precious Love” “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You,” “If This World Were Mine,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” “You’re All I Need to Get By,” “What You Gave Me,” and “The Onion Song.” Their last single together, “California Soul,” was released after Tammi succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 24 in 1970.

In 2015, it was announced that Kat Graham was cast to portray Tammi in a biopic about her life, but the project has been shelved.

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David Ruffin and

Tammi Terrell

After escaping an abusive relationship with James Brown, Tammi began a volatile relationship with David Ruffin, the lead singer of the Temptations, in 1965. In 1966, David surprised her with a marriage proposal.

However, when she announced their engagement on stage Davis became upset. Tammi was devastated once she discovered that he had a wife, three children and another girlfriend in Detroit. His drug use and infidelity led to them having public fights. Tammi was portrayed in the Temptations movie during the Motown picnic scene. It was claimed that

David

hit

Tammi

with a hammer or a machete, though this was denied by

Tammi’s family. Earl Van Dyke, leader of Motown’s Funk Brothers band, recalled seeing David beat up Tammi at the Motown

“Hitsville U.S.A.” headquarters. Her sister Ludie Montgomery also confirmed a story that David hit Tammi in the face with his motorcycle helmet, leading to the end of their relationship in 1967. Tammi went on to record classic duets with Marvin Gaye, but she unfortunately died from a brain tumor at the age of 24 in 1970. David died of a drug overdose in 1991.

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Tammi Terrell (1966)

Known for her duets with Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell was born Thomasina Montgomery on

April 29, 1945 in Philadelphia. Her younger sister says Tammi was raped by three boys when she only 11 years old. In 1960, she signed to a record label where she recorded a couple of singles. She left that label to sign on with James Brown where she began singing back up in his revue. Even though she was only 17, Tammi became sexually involved

in a

abusive

relationship with James who was almost 30. One night on the road Tammi left him after getting mercilessly beaten. In 1963, her first charting single “I Cried” reached #99 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Frustrated with her failure, she decided to quit the music business and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania where she spent the next two years as a pre-med major. 

In 1965, on her 20th birthday, she signed on with Berry Gordy who changed her professional name to Tammi Terrell. During the Motown Revue tour which she opened for The Temptations, Tammi began a volatile relationship with the lead singer David Ruffin. In 1966, David surprised her with a marriage proposal. However, Tammi was devastated once she discovered that he had a wife, three children and another girlfriend in Detroit. This led to them having public fights. It is claimed that Ruffin hit

Tammi

with a hammer and a machete, though these claims were denied by

Tammi’s family.

Earl Van Dyke, leader of Motown’s Funk Brothers band, recalled David beating up Tammi in the Hitsville building.

Her sister Ludie Montgomery also confirmed a story that Tammi was hit in the face by Ruffin’s motorcycle helmet, leading to the end of their relationship in 1967.

In 1967 Tammi began recording with Marvin Gaye, they a close platonic relationship and the duo released a string of hits including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Your Precious Love”. While performing live with Marvin at Hampden-Sydney College she collapsed and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Following the surgery in 1970, Tammi slipped into a coma and died on March 16, just weeks before her 25th birthday.

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Tammi Terrell performing at the University of Michigan in 1967.

Young, beautiful, vivacious, musically talented Tammi Terrell appeared to have a bright future in the music business in 1967, when she appeared at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium with the Motown Revue. After surviving abusive relationships with James Brown and David Ruffin, she made a series of top 40 duet hits with Marvin Gaye. Sadly, Tammi was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1967, which she succumbed to at the age of 24 in 1970.

(Photos by Tom Copi)

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Vintage R&B Concert Posters

1. Memorial Auditorium (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – November 16, 1954

2. Memorial Auditorium (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – June 10, 1959

3. Oakland Auditorium (Oakland, California) – February 8, 1963

4. Exhibition Garden (Vancouver, B.C., Canada) – June 26, 1964

5. Wilmer’s Park (Brandywine, Maryland) – July 25, 1965

6. Veterans Memorial Auditorium (Columbus, Ohio) – October 25, 1965

7. Carr’s Beach (Annapolis, Maryland) – June 26, 1966

8. Civic Auditorium (Knoxville, Tennessee) – March 31, 1967

9. Shelby County Fairgrounds (Shelbina, Missouri) – July 27, 1968

10. Norfolk Arena (Norfolk, Virginia) – November 22, 1969

Vintage R&B Concert Posters

1. Memorial Auditorium (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – November 16, 1954

2. Memorial Auditorium (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – June 10, 1959

3. Oakland Auditorium (Oakland, California) – February 8, 1963

4. Exhibition Garden (Vancouver, B.C., Canada) – June 26, 1964

5. Wilmer’s Park (Brandywine, Maryland) – July 25, 1965

6. Veterans Memorial Auditorium (Columbus, Ohio) – October 25, 1965

7. Carr’s Beach (Annapolis, Maryland) – June 26, 1966

8. Civic Auditorium (Knoxville, Tennessee) – March 31, 1967

9. Shelby County Fairgrounds (Shelbina, Missouri) – July 27, 1968

10. Norfolk Arena (Norfolk, Virginia) – November 22, 1969

twixnmix:

Tammi Terrell (1966)

Known for her duets with Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell was born Thomasina Montgomery on

April 29, 1945 in Philadelphia. Her younger sister says Tammi was raped by three boys when she only 11 years old. In 1960, she signed to a record label where she recorded a couple of singles. She left that label to sign on with James Brown where she began singing back up in his revue. Even though she was only 17, Tammi became sexually involved

in a

abusive

relationship with James who was almost 30. One night on the road Tammi left him after getting mercilessly beaten. In 1963, her first charting single “I Cried” reached #99 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Frustrated with her failure, she decided to quit the music business and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania where she spent the next two years as a pre-med major. 

In 1965, on her 20th birthday, she signed on with Berry Gordy who changed her professional name to Tammi Terrell. During the Motown Revue tour which she opened for The Temptations, Tammi began a volatile relationship with the lead singer David Ruffin. In 1966, David surprised her with a marriage proposal. However, Tammi was devastated once she discovered that he had a wife, three children and another girlfriend in Detroit. This led to them having public fights. It is claimed that Ruffin hit

Tammi

with a hammer and a machete, though these claims were denied by

Tammi’s family.

Earl Van Dyke, leader of Motown’s Funk Brothers band, recalled David beating up Tammi in the Hitsville building.

Her sister Ludie Montgomery also confirmed a story that Tammi was hit in the face by Ruffin’s motorcycle helmet, leading to the end of their relationship in 1967.

In 1967 Tammi began recording with Marvin Gaye, they a close platonic relationship and the duo released a string of hits including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Your Precious Love”. While performing live with Marvin at Hampden-Sydney College she collapsed and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Following the surgery in 1970, Tammi slipped into a coma and died on March 16, just weeks before her 25th birthday.

twixnmix:

Tammi Terrell performing at the University of Michigan in 1967.

Young, beautiful, vivacious, musically talented Tammi Terrell appeared to have a bright future in the music business in 1967, when she appeared at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium with the Motown Revue. After surviving abusive relationships with James Brown and David Ruffin, she made a series of top 40 duet hits with Marvin Gaye. Sadly, Tammi was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1967, which she succumbed to at the age of 24 in 1970.

(Photos by Tom Copi)

twixnmix:

Tammi Terrell (1966)

Known for her duets with Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell was born Thomasina Montgomery on

April 29, 1945 in Philadelphia. Her younger sister says Tammi was raped by three boys when she only 11 years old. In 1960, she signed to a record label where she recorded a couple of singles. She left that label to sign on with James Brown where she began singing back up in his revue. Even though she was only 17, Tammi became sexually involved

in a

abusive

relationship with James who was almost 30. One night on the road Tammi left him after getting mercilessly beaten. In 1963, her first charting single “I Cried” reached #99 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Frustrated with her failure, she decided to quit the music business and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania where she spent the next two years as a pre-med major. 

In 1965, on her 20th birthday, she signed on with Berry Gordy who changed her professional name to Tammi Terrell. During the Motown Revue tour which she opened for The Temptations, Tammi began a volatile relationship with the lead singer David Ruffin. In 1966, David surprised her with a marriage proposal. However, Tammi was devastated once she discovered that he had a wife, three children and another girlfriend in Detroit. This led to them having public fights. It is claimed that Ruffin hit

Tammi

with a hammer and a machete, though these claims were denied by

Tammi’s family.

Earl Van Dyke, leader of Motown’s Funk Brothers band, recalled David beating up Tammi in the Hitsville building.

Her sister Ludie Montgomery also confirmed a story that Tammi was hit in the face by Ruffin’s motorcycle helmet, leading to the end of their relationship in 1967.

In 1967 Tammi began recording with Marvin Gaye, they a close platonic relationship and the duo released a string of hits including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Your Precious Love”. While performing live with Marvin at Hampden-Sydney College she collapsed and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Following the surgery in 1970, Tammi slipped into a coma and died on March 16, just weeks before her 25th birthday.