Motown Monday ~ Tammi Terrell ~ I Can’t Believe You Love Me

What an awesome song and highlights the ultimate talent of this vocalist. Another who should have shined as a number one star.

This was Terrell’s first solo recording for “Motown” followed by “Come on and See Me”.

Born Thomasina Winifred Montgomery, it was Gordy who wanted the i dropped from Tamm’y’ and a new last stage name to give her a sexy image. So it puzzled so many that she didn’t have string of solo hits. From this first one she should have gained at least 20 more. The talent was certainly there earning her a spot on the Motor City Revue.

At 15 she signed with Scepter Records by 17 she toured with James Brown and recorded “I Cried” for his “Try Me Records” where the record charted. She tried Brown and she left him 2 years later after the abuse. She recorded one single for Checker Records in 1964 “If I Would Marry You” with Jimmy Radcliffe. Tammy actually retired from music and went to the University of Pennsylvania for two years studying pre-med when Jerry Butler asked her to sing with him in a series of night club shows, but still allowed her to continue at school. In 65′ Gordy spotted her and signed her.

Sadly after the first couple of recordings for Motown, David Ruffin who she started dating started up where James Brown left off.

In 1967 she seem to find the fame she deserved as a soloist when Gordy hooked her up with Marvin Gaye with numerous duet hits over a two period. On stage during a show in Oct. 67′ she collapsed into Gaye’s arms rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

Gordy never would release an album of Terrell’s solo hits recorded from 1965 – 1968 “Irresistible” until 1969 when she became so ill so couldn’t promote it. And the album ” Easy” with Gaye (released on United) Motown would not promote at all.

After 8 operations Terrell died on March 16, 1970 6 weeks before her 25th birthday. The only one her mother allowed at her funeral was Marvin Gaye. She criticized Motown for covering up Terrell’s condition and releasing albums of her work without her consent. Gaye felt the same way and stated that Motown took advantage of her illness. He never got over her death and Motown’s fans knew she was much more deserving then she got.

Ironically the song “I Can’t Believe You Love Me” epitomized how she was treated by the very industry that should have had her in the main spotlight but didn’t. But as a fan along with many here in Detroit and around the globe, Tammi Terrell was a star of a proportional magnitude.

This one song alone more than proved her ability.



Written by Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua.
Released in 1965.
Background singers – The Andantes and The Spinners
Music – The Funk Brothers


Your Fans More Than Loved You Tammi and you will never be forgotten.

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Filed under Entertainment, MUSIC

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