Tammi Terrell (born Thomasina Winifred Montgomery) was an American singer–songwriter, widely known as a star singer for Motown Records during the 1960s, notably for a series of duets with singer Marvin Gaye.
Terrell's career began as a teenager, first recording for Scepter/Wand Records, before spending nearly 9 months as a member of James Brown's Revue, recording for Brown's Try Me label. After a period attending college, Terrell recorded briefly for Checker Records, before signing with Motown in 1965. With Gaye, Terrell scored seven Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "You're All I Need to Get By". Terrell's career was interrupted when she collapsed into Gaye's arms as the two performed at a concert at Hampden–Sydney College on October 14, 1967, with Terrell later being diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had eight unsuccessful surgeries before dying of the illness on March 16, 1970, at the age of 24.
While Terrell was finally being established as a star, the migraines and headaches she had suffered from childhood were becoming more constant. While she complained of pains, she insisted to people close to her that she was well enough to perform. Shortly after returning from Virginia, doctors diagnosed a malignant tumor on the right side of her brain. She underwent brain surgery at Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia on January 13, 1968.
After recovering from her first surgery, Terrell returned to Hitsville studios in Detroit and recorded "You're All I Need to Get By". Both that song and "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", reached No. 1 on the R&B charts. Despite Terrell's optimism, her tumor worsened, requiring more surgeries. By 1969, Terrell had retired from live performances as she had been ordered by doctors not to perform due to her tumors. Motown issued Terrell's first and only solo album, Irresistible, in early 1969. Terrell was too ill to promote the recordings. There was no new repertoire on the album: all tracks had been recorded earlier and subsequently shelved for some time.