This Day in Black History: April 29, 1945

Singer Tammi Terrell was born in Philadelphia.

Posted: 04/29/2014 12:00 AM EDT

Singer Tammi Terrell, who was born on April 29, 1945, began her career at a very young age. The music world is fortunate that she achieved such early success, because the songbird sadly died from a brain tumor at age 24.

Born Thomasina Montgomery in Philadelphia, Terrell moved from local talent contests to open for the likes of Patti LaBelle & the Blue Belles at the tender age of 13. She recorded her first single for Scepter/Wand Records in 1961 and spent two years as part of James Brown's Revue.

Terrell, who may have been married to heavyweight boxer Ernie Terrell, did not have any big hits until she was paired with crooner Marvin Gaye. Together, they released a string of songs worthy of the top of the pop charts, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "You're All I Need to Get By."

Together they were the real thing, at least in the studio and on stage, but were forced to end live performances after she collapsed in Gaye's arms during a concert at Hampton-Sydney College in Virginia. They did, however, continue to record until her deteriorating health made that no longer possible.

The loss of his vocal partner hit Gaye, who delivered a eulogy for Terrell, so hard that he did not perform for three years.

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(Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images)

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