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on August 19, 2005
TAMMI TELL ME TRUE:
Tammi Terrell Biography A Must Have

By Rick A. Bueche

Tammi Terrell! Her name alone conjures up two distinct images. One, the velvet-voiced songstress who rode to international success via a string of duets with Marvin Gaye. The second being a tragic figure who, reportedly, was beaten and abused by her paramours and died tragically - years before she ever reached her zenith as an entertainer.

With the help of writer Vicki Wright, Tammi Terrell's only remaining immediate relative, sister Ludie Montgomery, channels (of sorts) the fallen songstress into finally laying to rest the rumors and innuendo. In their book, "My Sister Tommie," Wright and Montgomery bring Tammi vividly back to life through rare photos, interviews and family recollections to finally address the many issues about the short lifetime of one of pop's most celebrated, and elusive, female vocalists.

And the book is ripe with surprises and revelations.

Born Thomasina Montgomery in 1945, and pre-dating her sister by several years, the Montgomery sisters were raised in Philadelphia. Unlike many of her Motown peers, Tammi was born to parents who had achieved a level of financial success that gave their only daughters a level of comfort and opportunity. Tammi began performing barely into her teenage years and had achieved a small but loyal following before she signed with Motown in the mid-1960s.

Upon arriving at Motown, Tammi's star quickly began to rise. When she teamed with Marvin Gaye and they were paired with Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, a hit formula rivaling that of the Supremes with Holland-Dozier-Holland and the Temptations with Smokey Robinson was quickly established. Between 1967 and 1970, Marvin and Tammi sold in excess of ten million singles and albums, and developed a body of work that has stood the test of time. Classic hits like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough and " Your Precious Love" have not only achieved worldwide recognition but have been covered by some of the biggest names in the recording industry. They remain among the most popular offerings of the Jobete catalog.

Yet Tammi Terrell seemingly enjoyed little of this massive success. Struck down by a deadly brain tumor shortly into this run of hits, Tammi died quietly on March 16, 1970. News of her death at the tender age of 24 shocked her loyal fans as well as her singing partner who went into years of performing exile as he dealt with her mortality.

Ludie Montgomery reflects on her sister in somewhat of a detached manner, and is successful in not portraying Tammi as a victim to anything other than fate. Tammi's love affairs are dealt with honestly as was her rebellious nature. This was a woman who was clearly ahead of her time not only in talent, but in business sense as well as internal fortitude. She forged on despite declining health and a negative prognosis to record more classic hits such as "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" and "You're All I Need To Get By." Few of Tammi's friends, and none of her fans knew of the gravity of her situation when these gems were recorded in 1968.

The most appreciable aspect of this book is the laying to rest of the actual nature of Tammi's illness, long blamed on beatings at the hand of one or more male soul icons. In truth, Tammi Terrell began experiencing health issues that led to her demise just as she was entering her teen years. Her mother dealt with similar circumstances and it seems to be a health problem that ran in the family. Like many cancers, had it been detected earlier, perhaps there may have been more time. But after reading her sisters touching accounts, it is evident that Tammi Terrell was destined to be a pop martyr.

The book is issued in the U.K. by Bank House books. The book flows chronologically with input from family members and some of Tammi's contemporaries. The asking price may seem steep, but the photos included are worth the money alone. We have Tammi as a child, an endearing photo of Tammi as a cheerleader and numerous stage shots.

But the most poignant photo is an ailing Tammi, replete with surgical cap to hide her head scars, embracing her newborn nephew and smiling broadly into the camera. Even in moments of happiness like these, Tammi's eyes, deep-set and circled, reveal the seriousness of her illness. Another photo of Tammi basking in the warm tropical sun just weeks before her death also tugs at the heart.

Kudos to Ludi and Vickie for finally revealing the nature of Tammi's relationships with James Brown and David Ruffin, and ending the long-believed fable that Tammi got her name from a marriage to a heavyweight champion. Ludi is also successful in sharing her sisters story without using the book as a vehicle for personal gratification. While Ms. Montgomery does share her correlations to various parts of Tammi's short life, this was clearly a labor of love on behalf of her famous, and sometimes maligned sister; a putting-to-rest of long-held misconceptions. Upon completing the read, and seeing the funeral photos and clippings, one comes away feeling that perhaps now Tammi Terrell can truly rest at peace.

There is one aspect the book does not delve into. What would have happened to Tammi Terrell had she lived? Likely, she had reached her plateau at Motown shortly before her passing. Tammi was wise enough to know that there was only one queen at the company, and this crown would never have been hers. She likely would have gone to another label, as so many classic Motown artists did in the early 1970s, and could have matched the solo success of the other soul sirens of her era. She was a contender; and everybody knew it.

"My Sister Tommie" is available at Amazon.com. This is a must-read!
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on June 21, 2005
I had the opportunity of attending the booksigning in Philadelphia on June 16, which was declared "Tammi Terrell Day". I had received this book in the mail two days prior and read it voraciously. Honestly, this is the BEST tribute to an entertainer that I've read. God bless Ludie and Vickie for sharing the good, bad and sometimes ugly events that shaped Tammi's short life. Her life may have been short, but Tammi truly left behind a remarkable legacy. This is a book about courage and determination in achieving personal goals and overcoming the sometimes impossible events that we as individuals face in our lives. Tammi is an example to follow and this book clears up the rumors and falsehoods that have been repeated in previous books about Motown and the music business.

I became a serious fan back in '76 as a 10 year old, when I heard my first Tammi solo recording "I Can't Believe You Love Me". I was already familiar with the work that she and Marvin Gaye did, but something about Tammi's voice grabbed me and stays with me today (I'm 38). There will never be another Tammi and after reading this phenomenal book, you will agree with me. Thank you Ludie and Vickie for your efforts. Give this book to your friends and family members. I already have.

In closing, Ludie you are a sweet and wonderful lady. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to meet you. Vickie, thank you for your friendship. You are a beautiful person. I will never forget our conversation as long as I live. I love you both.
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on December 8, 2006
I love the fact that Ludie wanted to tell the truth about her sister, Tommie, but I found that Ludie only really knew Tammi as a child and only provided tidbits about her adult life. She appears to have known about as much of Tammi's adult life as I knew. I really didnt find any new information as her singing career blossomed. Everyone today knows that abuse does not cause brain tumors. When I read about her illness and her mom's illness it touched me deeply. I appreciate Ludies's efforts but I did find her being evasive on some issues. My true frustration comes from the double talk. I found myself skipping pages because I was reading the same thing over and over and over again.
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on January 6, 2008
I am a South Jersey native (high school class of 1971) and a devoted fan of Tammi Terrell. I've purchased many CDs of her solo and duet recordings, and love her voice. That said, I must now say that I have no idea how the publisher of this book (Bank House Books) let this volume be published in this sad shape. Almost every page is rife with the most basic spelling and grammar errors. For example, the name of Jerry Blavat, a Philadelphia/South Jersey rock and roll legend of TV and radio, is misspelled on page 121. On page 24, the name of Crispus Attucks, a black Revolutionary war hero, is spelled "Cripus Attacks." Throughout the book, there is more of the same: random capitalizations, fragmented sentences, and misspellings. The publisher should be ashamed, and the lovely Miss Tammi Terrell certainly deserves a better tribute than this third-rate book.
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on June 20, 2005
I became a fan of Tammi Terrell in the mid-1990s after hearing her duets with Marvin Gaye on the radio. Before the decade closed, I became curious about what T might have sung solo. Once I heard solo songs like "What A Good Man He Is," I was hooked. In 1998 I learned she had a sister named Ludie; that summer I learned that L was working on a biography of T. But progress stalled until 2001, when Los Angeles-based co-author Vickie Wright entered the picture. Over the next 4 years the 2 women would compile a true story about T to debunk various false rumors that had circulated over the past 30+ years. For example, instead of ever having known (much less been married to) boxer Ernie Terrell, T was engaged during the last year of her life to one Dr. Ernest Garrett. I had never even heard of Garrett until reading this book; it just goes to show how a little information often can breed a lot of misinformation. The book also confirms what I had long suspected--that T suffered domestic violence at the hands of boyfriends James Brown & David Ruffin. Yet T forgave both men once the relationships were long over; so did L many years after T's death. L does not sugarcoat the unpleasant events in T's life, yet has no axes to grind against anyone. But for all the questions her book answers, it does raise a new one: if T really did record with M for the sessions of their final duet album in 1969 (as L quotes songwriter-producers Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson as saying), then why did M allege to his own biographer, David Ritz, just before his own death in 1984, that Simpson substituted for T on the female vocals because T was too ill to record any further? Could M have had an ax to grind against Motown & its founder Berry Gordy? Oh well, kudos to L for sharing her sister's true story, that her fans might see the light.
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on June 22, 2005
This book tells the true story of Motown's beauty Tammi Terrell and follows her through her childhood, adulthood, and untimely death. It's written in a way that you feel that the authors aren't hiding anything but are informing us of this young lady. It also features interviews with the great Ashford & Simpson, family and friends and many more.

At a very young age Tammi new what she wanted and made it happen. Tammi isn't portrayed as a good or bad person, just Thomasina Montgomery as she really was.

5+++ stars!!!
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on May 19, 2008
This books lacked a lot of luster. Ms.Ludie Montgomery was invasive. The only information that everyone probability didn't know about and that was the information regarding James Brown being so abusive to Tammi. She repeats herself numerous times, and the book seems to focus more on Tammi's sister and her depression. Maybe this is a book about healing. The pictures were horrible - xerox and poor quality. I'm sure more pictures could have been located at the Motown archives, that could have been used in this memoir.
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on July 30, 2006
My sister Tommie was an interesting summer read for me. I have heard Tammie Terrells music as a kid growing up in Mt.Airy and had heard some of the older neighborhood ladies talking of her from their experiences of knowing her or seeing her at the uptown theatre back in the day. I felt the book was written from supressed bitter sweet memories from the author and unfortunately did not go deep enough or give the reader enough depth about Ms.Terrell to completely keep someone not from that era interested in reading any further material about Ms. Terrell. I think this book was good for the author, Ms.Ludie, for a continuing process of healing. I wish her continued blessings.
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on November 9, 2008
I adore Tammi, plus a relative of mine knew her in Detroit. My review will be long because I have so much to say on Tammi's life, because I could relate to her and her sister's experiences. I brought the book to learn of Tammi and pay honor. For so many years there has been rumors and heresay so I hope the book would tell the real story. The book introduces the real Tammi Terrell, and we gain insight into her background, which explained a lot about why she did a lot of things she did as an adult.

My heart sunk reading about Tammi being beaten and raped at 11 by three boys. It's bad enough to be raped as a teenager or adult woman by one person, but as a kid...three boys. I mean she was still a kid, I don't care if she was developed physically. Being introduced to sex in such a painful, forced, violent way isn't a way for a girl to introduced to sex. To have her choice of who to give her virginity to, sharing that special moment with your first love was taken away, it had to affect her. Many books talked about how promisicous she was, perhaps she was because she didn't view sex the same as others. She wasn't introduced to sex in a loving way, so maybe she didn't associate love with sex or sex with love. I admire Tammi's boldness in identifying the guys who raped her. That's a bold move for a little girl, older women are so afraid to identify their attackers, so I commend her for being so bold. I wonder did she ever talk about the experience with anyone in life, like her friends, sometimes sharing such stories is freeing and helps in the healing process. Ludie expressed Tammi didn't dwell much on her tragedies. She would get up, dust herself off, and move on. That's good, but was it healthy?

Many talked about Tammi being wild and raw. Perhaps the pain of being raped, something that was never dealt with in her life, made her run wild so she wouldn't have to deal with the pain. Did Tammi ever heal from that terrible experience? I think not. I understand in those days when a girl was raped it was not talked about. It was swept under the rug. There was no such thing as getting therapy or Dr. Phil back then, like now and days, and a woman never truly heals from such an experience. Florence Ballard of The Supremes, never healed from being raped.

If Tammi wasn't acting out sexually, then I think she was a woman ahead of her time who wasn't ashame of enjoying sex without marriage, and maybe that's why she was looked at as different or wild. People may have looked down upon her in her time, but now and days people are more understanding and personally I find her more interesting that she was different from the norm. I hate the fake goody-good hypocritical type. Tammi definitely wasn't the only wild one at Motown, the only difference is others tried to act like they were goody-goody when they weren't. It seems Tammi wasn't hypocritical. She was who she was. On the flip side it seems Tammi was cool, down to earth, smart, a modern day type of woman. Some of her influences, values, regrets, her ups, and downs, was talked about, but I felt there was something missing. Of course it's hard to say what her regrets were, when she was just 24 when she died, most young people at that age aren't thinking about regrets, but I'm sure while she was sick, she thought a lot about how she lived and probably had some regrets, I wonder did she express these things with her family. In the Ebony magazine interview on Tammi, while sick, she said she wished she hadn't wasted so much time doing other things before she got sick. I wonder what were the things she wished she hadn't done.

I, and other fans had an interest in her relations with men. Ludie pointed out that Tammi's choice in men may have been because of her being raped. Is that why she was attracted to the bad boy types? Why did abuse go on so frequently and brutal? Was she subconsciously okay with abuse because she had been abused? Thankfully, Tammi had a good man in her last days. A doctor! I wish she would have been with him from the beginning. She could have obviously attracted good men, but it's hard to find a good man in show business, because most are cheaters and so full of themselves that they feel they can do anything and have any woman. I admire the fact that Tammi didn't stay with the abusive men in her life, like so many other women. She was a woman who would love with all her heart, but she wasn't a fool. She could have done better then David Ruffin and James Brown, but back then those guys were big stars, so they were "the better," but not better personally. Some women are so in awe of a guy's fame and talent, that it distorts their view of the real man, and makes them tolerate abuse and cheating. From what I've read on Tammi, it seems she was bold, independent, smart, didn't take no stuff from men, and wouldn't dumb down for men. She would fight back and cheat as revenge, and men back then, and now, couldn't deal with that, that's why David and James were so abusive. They did what they wanted, but didn't allow their woman to do wrong, or else she get beat. That's how David and James were, very controlling men. They wanted respect, but didn't give it. It seems the men who have everything on the outside, don't have it all on the inside, and hide behind their fame and talent, and act like the perfect guy to fool women, and then when they get the women in love with them, they change. I hate to say it but when singer Rihanna got beat up by Chris Brown, I couldn't help but envision Tammi and David, I don't why! Women back in her day didn't call the police. They kept abuse to themselves. It was accepted in the community to slap your woman around when she gets out of line, and sadly some women allowed it. Many thought that's how relationships are. They women in their lives abused. Many women felt they couldn't do better. Of course there was no way of Tammi knowing that the men would be abusive, because abusers are so nice in the beginning, but it's always good to check a man's past relationships, a zebra never changes his stripes. But I'm sure it was fun for her dating them in the beginning. It wasn't Tammi's fault that she was abused, I don't care how she may have acted or what she did. If someone makes you that mad that you want to abuse them, then you shouldn't be with that person. I hope Tammi didn't feel the abuse was her fault, it wasn't. James and David abused other women before and after Tammi, so it was a pattern with them. I also think James and David couldn't handle an independent, ambitious woman who wanted to be a star. They wanted to be the only star. They didn't want Tammi stealing their spotlight. They didn't want men throwing themselves at Tammi, the way women were throwing themselves at them. James and David were very insecure men, who hid their insecurities by being arrogant. Tammi had a lot on the ball, and I think they could have been intimidated by that, and they wanted to try to bring her down a peg or two. They couldn't handle a independent, strong, ambitious, smart, bold woman like Tammi. Maybe they feared she would leave them, so they hoped to put fear into her by being abusive, but she still left them anyway. James and David liked women to just sit down, shut up, look pretty, and kiss their behind, Tammi wasn't like that. A few men commented that Tammi was rough and tough, perhaps because of her being sexual assaulted, it made her subconsciously put up her guard around certain men as a defensive mechanism. Maybe she had the mindset, I'll get you, before you get me! I think the same things that attracted people/men to Tammi, intimidated them.

Tammi was a beautiful woman, and sometimes people who have things so easy take it for granted. So many men wanted her, she didn't think perhaps some of the guys might not be good for her. It seems she would just jump into relationships without finding out about a man first. The prettier you are, the more men will want you, so a woman has to be cautious, because most of those men just want to use you and add you to their list of women. But as the book brought out, Tammi wanted to experience everything good and bad. She was trusting and would give people the benefit of the doubt, but once you wronged her, she was through with you. Most women who are raped or molested, don't trust men very much, but Tammi didn't seem that way. I don't know for sure if she really trusted them, but Ludie brought out that Tammi was "rough around the edges," maybe her being sexually assaulted made it hard for her to have healthy relationships with men, because she hadn't healed yet and probably still had anger, fear, pain, and distrust deep inside, maybe she wasn't aware of it. It seem to be a pattern in her life to be with the same type of men. I don't know if she seeked them out or they seeked her out. Maybe she wanted to be trusting and tried hard to be, but distrust would seep through because of her sexual assault.

In the book everyone says how mature Tammi was and how she was older than her years, but if she truly was mature, she wouldn't have gotten mixed up with abusive men. She would have been able to see through them. She wouldn't have jumped in a relationship with them so fast. I think maybe she was mature in some things, but like most women, naive when it came to love, but Tammi wanted to experience everything, maybe she heard or knew some of the men she was with weren't any good, because people talk, but she didn't care, she wanted to give them a try.

I would liked to have heard more about Tammi and Sam Cooke. Were they together or dated a little? I've seen a photo of Sam and Tammi, and they looked so cute together. Sam was a Don Juan type, but he treated women right. I think he would have been a better match for Tammi, than David and James, even if Sam was married. In the book, there's a autographed photo of Sam and he inscribed "Sammy's In Love." Knowing Sam was a sucker for a pretty face, I know he was interested in Tammi. I've heard rumors that Tammi could have had a fling with Jackie Wilson, now that's something I would have loved to hear about. They were two beautiful, charismatic people, who the opposite sexes were crazy about. If it's true they were together, I would have loved to hear about them. I think Sam and Jackie would have been better to Tammi, then James and David. I think Chuck Jackson, Deon Jackson, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Otis Williams, Johnny Bristol, The Four Tops, The Spinners, Marv Johnson, one of the Holland brothers of Holland Dozier Holland, would have made better mates for Tammi then David Ruffin and James Brown. I never heard of the other guys beating on women. They seem like gentlemen. Tammi seemed fast, so perhaps she liked the fast, bad boy types. Their so exciting, but they hurt her in the end. I'm sure they were so nice in the beginning, buying her stuff, but that's how abusers are to catch you. I think it may have been hard for her to move on from David and James, because she was in love with what she thought they were, and maybe it was hard to believe they were fakes who fooled her into thinking they were something they wasn't. The pattern of men violating and abusing Tammi seem to be a pattern, and I wonder had she lived would it have continued.

I hate how Tammi was portrayed in The Temptations movie. Tammi was portrayed as if she was a slut. The way she was hugging different men in front of David, and then David making a scene at the Motown picnic. The movie didn't capture the real Tammi, I don't think. Though the movie wasn't about Tammi, they shouldn't have made it seem like it was her fault why David would get mad and get physical with her. I read Tammi and David fought a lot because of David being married. He proposed to Tammi, and Tammi announced her engagement to David on stage, and it started a lot of violence. Why was he mad over her announcing the engagement? David was openly a cheater, so why did he want to hide his engagement to Tammi. I'm sure his wife and other women had to know him and Tammi were together. If David loved Tammi, why didn't he divorce his wife and marry Tammi? I believe there was something deeper, besides the marriage thing. The marriage thing was a cover-up of deeper issues that caused the violence, like control issue and personalities not matching.

David Ruffin's girlfriend wrote a book and devoted a chapter to trashing Tammi Terrell. I wonder if Ludie read it before she put her book out, perhaps she could have cleared up the rumors if they were false. If the things said in the book is false, Ludie should sue for defamation of her sister.

Ludie talked about how their father wasn't around as much as he should have been, emotionally. This is a problem in the black community, fathers not being around, a girl needs a father. If a girl doesn't get attention and love from a father, she will try to find it from other men, and it seems that's what Tammi did. She looked for love in all the wrong places. Maybe Tammi was looking for men to make up for her father's lack of love or attention, but her men couldn't fill that void, and maybe that's why the relationships failed. Tammi was introduced to sex in the most devastating, painful way, perhaps it made her view men and sex differently from others, so she needed her father's attention and love even more so after that experience. Losing her innocence the way she did, maybe made her feel as though I've got nothing to hold on to, I've lost my innocence, so why be innocent. She wasn't talked to about sex, like most girls back then, if parents don't talk with their children about it, some will find out about it in the worse way. A girl needs a mother to tell her how to respect her body, not let men disrespect her body, how to act around men, how some men are, and what to look out for. I think the reason why people compare Tammi and Billie Holiday is because they both had some bad men, they both seem to go for the worse men in the room, and they both were sexually assaulted as teenagers. The only thing a woman can control is her body and her sexuality, when it's violated by force by men, it does something to a woman. Tammi was sadly violated many times by men, and the emotional scars had to be there and have some effect. Maybe had she lived longer, she would have discovered a lot about herself and how much those tragic events affected her and her personality. Ludie brought out that Tammi forgave James Brown and David Ruffin. She's a better woman then me. They didn't hit me but I'm mad at them. Both of those guys beat Tammi as if she was a man numerous times, so it wasn't just slapping around. Forgiving isn't easy, so for her to forgive for such brutality shows how big of a person she was. Perhaps, Tammi felt what's the use of staying mad, life is too short, I've lived and learned, now it's time to move on.

Tammi had a lot of male friends, this probably made people misinterpret her relationships with man and think she was promisicous. I liked how she could be friends with guys and be cool with them. It just wasn't about sex with her. Maybe she found men as better friends, because women were so envious of her.

Like others have stated, it seems Ludie wasn't around Tammi when the real action was going on in Tammi's life, like during her career, Detroit and Motown years. Maybe Tammi lived a double life, was one way around her family and another way when by herself (like most performers.) It seems there are a lot of things Ludie don't know and plus a lot of people Tammi was involved with are deceased so they couldn't tell their sides. Quite a lot of people were interviewed for the book, but it seems they wanted to say more, but didn't want to reveal certain things about Tammi because they didn't want to hurt Ludie. Motown legend Kim Weston once described Tammi as wild, raw, and beautiful. Why was she wild and raw? What exactly did Tammi do? They never elaborate. Another Motowner, Brenda Holloway basically said Tammi was promisicous, sleeping with men the first night she met them. Many Motowners, especially the women (maybe jealous) didn't describe Tammi in a positive way in the Marvin Gaye books that include Tammi. I'm not one of those fans who think their favorite singers are perfect. I accept the good, the bad, and the ugly, it makes them a better artist to me. Ludie brought out you can't judge a person, unless you know their childhood and background. I agree. Since reading about Tammi's childhood experiences, I can understand where Tammi was coming from and her mentality in her young, short life. Maybe now the ones who talked bad about Tammi will shut up or feel bad about what they said, now that they know Tammi's background story.

It seems a lot of the Motown women didn't like Tammi, some seem somewhat jealous of her. Perhaps, because she had the whole package. Many of the women at Motown came from the projects and they had to be taught how to be ladies. Tammi naturally had charm, charisma, and glamour. She didn't come from the projects or ghetto. She was from a well to do family. She had an education, something to fall back on if her career didn't go as planned, the others didn't have that. So I can see why they were jealous of Tammi. Of course, men were interested in Tammi. She probably came in Motown, and stole a lot of women's thunder. They viewed Tammi as competition, and it seems when people didn't like Tammi, she would really put on to make you really not like her. It seems she had the type of personality, if your nice, she's nice, if you're jealous and judgemental of her, she'll give you something to really be jealous about. I know quite of few Motown women were interviewed but they didn't share any personal stories and experiences with Tammi, which shows they weren't friends with her. They just said the obvious "she was so pretty" and "she was great." I feel they just wanted to be in a book. They talked bad about Tammi in their books, but in Ludie's book they tried to act like they liked Tammi so much. It seems Motown wasn't the big, happy family they claim to be, especially with the women, Motown was very cliquey.

People also wondered whether or not Tammi and Marvin Gaye were together romantically. Ludie says no. He wasn't her type. How could he not be? It would be hard to believe that two attractive individuals who both were known as being so-called promisicous, wouldn't have been attracted to one another. Since Marvin was married to the Motown boss sister, maybe Marvin and Tammi whether they together or not a secret. I would think if it got out back then that they were together, Tammi would have been in trouble with the boss and the boss sister. There were rumors that the reason for the abuse in Tammi and David Ruffin's relationship was due to David's jealousy of Marvin and Tammi singing together and thoughts of them being together. What bonded Marvin and Tammi was they both could relate to each other's deepness and maybe they knew of each other's tragedies, and understood what others couldn't, maybe drew strength from one another. Hurt people attract hurt people. Some performers I read about who had tragic experiences in life, either led a self-destructive, depressing life like Marvin Gaye or Billie Holiday, or they ran wild to not have to deal with themselves, perhaps like Tammi.

Tammi's mother should have continued chaperoning her daughter in those early years of her starting her singing career. It bothered me she left her daughter alone with James Brown. Her mother should have been with her at all time, maybe she wouldn't have gotten with the wrong men. A young girl needs a guardian in the world of entertainment, especially if she's attractive, because men in show biz (and in life) like to take advantage of young, naive girls. Why would Tammi's mother leave her attractive daughter with a grown man? Was the mother that naive that she really thought her daughter was in good hands? Mother's are suppose to protect their child. They are suppose to have more wisdom. So she should have been able to see through James Brown smiling face and politeness, and not trust any man enough to leave her daughter alone with them. I was shocked and disgusted that James Brown beat Tammi with an umbrella. No one could do anything that bad to get abused like that, and then Tammi couldn't get away fast enough before she endured more beatings. I love Gene Chandler, but when he said that Tammi came to him for help, he didn't want to get involved at first, but finally he called her mother, I was mad. I can't stand men like that who don't want to stick up for a woman's honor or turn their heads when they see abuse. Most women can't beat a man, so I feel it's a real man's responsibility to help a lady in distress. I wonder why exactly did James beat Tammi? It wasn't explained. Was it because Tammi was flirting with other men, not doing what he said, or standing up for herself? I'm sure whatever made him abuse her, it wasn't the worse thing in the world, but to him it was, because of his insecurities and male chauvinistic ways.

Of course, I wasn't expecting a novel, since Tammi lived a short life, but I feel some things were missing. Many have died over the years who knew Tammi, but there are Motowners alive, that were left out of the book, like The Marvelettes, Smokey Robinson, Harvey Fuqua, singer Betty Harris, Lola Falana, Joan Proctor, and others who should have been interviewed. I would have liked Bobby Byrd to have elaborated on the experiences of life on the road, and what Tammi was like on the road. I would have liked for some of the Motown people to talk more about their experiences/stories performing and traveling with Tammi. Maybe the book will be revised in the future or maybe someone else will write a book including info that was left out. However, I must say I'm glad to see a book on another Motowner besides Marvin Gaye, Florence Ballard, and Diana Ross.

Ludie emphasizes that in spite of Tammi's tragedies, Tammi was mostly a happy, fun-loving person, who didn't dwell on her tragedies too long. When Tammi got sick, she probably felt what's the use of being depressed over the past, I just want to enjoy the time I have left.

We can learn a lot from Tammi. I think because of Tammi's mother being ill when she was growing up and not being around much, and then Tammi having headaches, I think it made Tammi appreciate life more, and see that life is short. She didn't know when she might get sick, so she wanted to experience everything, good and bad. Perhaps she had a premonition and knew she wouldn't be on this earth long, so she worked harder to attain a place in history and have all the fun and loves she could. Though she lived to be only 24, it seems her life was full, fuller than some who lived longer. I believe her life experiences and headaches made her live her life so fast and wild, because she never knew when she might have to experience pain or tragedy, so when she had her health she lived it up. During her illness she lost her beauty, figure, hair, but it didn't make her go crazy or become depress like other women would. She wasn't vain. She never lost her inner beauty, which was important. That tells a lot about her.

Tammi was complex, multi-faceted, multi-layered. She was good and bad, wild and innocent. She was unpredictable. It made her interesting. You couldn't pigeonhole or label Tammi. Tammi had a magnetism. There's something about her that just attracts men and women. She's the type of girl that girls want to be friends with and guys want to date. She had an aura and inner beauty that resonates and grabs you. She seemed like a down to earth person, in spite of her good looks. She didn't seem stuck up, full of herself, snotty, cold, dumb, stand-offish, lacking in personality, or cliquey, like most pretty girls. Again, maybe the life experiences she had is what made her un-narcissistic. Since she suffered early tragedies, perhaps it made her see there's more to her and more important things in life then just looking good. It seems while growing up, she wasn't pampered or given everything on a silver platter, like most pretty girls, so perhaps that made her grounded. Tammi wasn't one of those pretty girls trying to make it off of looks or her body. She worked hard to develop her talent, unlike young female singers today, who try to make up for their lack of talent by showing off their looks and body. Tammi also had a personality. She wasn't one of those pretty girls who attract you with her outward beauty than push you away wih their inward ugliness. Tammi was charming, friendly, and approachable, rare qualities for a pretty girl. She didn't have that mindset that she didn't have to be nice because she's pretty. She wanted to have beauty on the inside and out, and that made her ultra special. That's why she was irresistible. I was touched by the story about Tammi when she was a little girl, telling her little sister Ludie about "their people" and that we need to help one another and not look for repayment. Now, for a little girl to have that type wisdom and knowledge of race and culture so young really touched me. Most adults don't have that consciousness. I also couldn't help but smile when I read Tammi drinked out of a "whites only" drinking fountain as a child. She stood up to a white racist down south, during the time Emmett Till, a child, was killed for breaking the rules, Tammi stood up to racism. What a bold sister! I'm proud of her. It makes me wonder how she responded to racism when she was on the road singing in the south. Also, Tammi was ambitious, but didn't seem backstabbing like so many in the business to make it to the top. I like that! Ludie also expressed how Tammi thought it was unfair to judge people. She didn't want to be judged, and she felt no one had an excuse to judge her without knowing her or her past. Another thing is Tammi's main friends were people outside of show business, so they kept her grounded and down to earth. To me, that shows Tammi's character, when she got popularity, she didn't forget where she come from nor did she just rub elbows with the rich and famous. She was a star on stage, but off stage a regular girl. Tammi loved her fans, you could go up to her and talk with her, she wouldn't snob you or say "no autographs" or "I don't want to be bothered." She answered her fan mail. Most stars say their too busy to answer fan mail. Tammi was never too busy for her fans. She wouldn't just love her fans when people were around. She would love her fans when no one was around. She would make you feel good by acknowledging you and talking to you like an old friend. She didn't use her fans to stroke her ego, like today's stars. That's something special! Tammi could have done all the wrong in the world, but because she was good to her fans, that makes me love her.

Tammi had a gap in her teeth, but it didn't make her look bad. She actually looked cute with it. Motown had caps put on her teeth. She had a flaw but it didn't stop her from being viewed as good looking. Everything didn't have to be perfect for her to be considered good looking, like in today's time era. I can't get over how much Tammi and one of the first black actresses and entertainer, Nina Mae McKinney look so similar and were the same type of performer. I wonder if Tammi knew of her or could they be distant relatives.

Ludie brought out Tammi was a great stage performer, but her records didn't capture that. I think you can hear in her voice, how lively she was, so I can picture how great of a performer she was. Sadly, there's only two filmed performances with Marvin. In those two performances you could see she was a great performer. There's probably footage of her, collecting dust in a vault, it should be released. I definitely want to see that Motown commercial she was in, that one of The Andantes talked about. Instead of Berry Gordy spending all his time building up Diana Ross, he should have been building up Tammi. Tammi had mainstream appeal too. She had everything Ross had, but more, only thing I don't think Tammi was sleeping with the boss like Diana, and it's hard to compete with someone sleeping with or dating the boss. Berry Gordy seem to have forgotten, it was his job to make sure everyone was successful on his label, not just a few. If it's true Tammi had sex with Gordy, well she didn't get much out of it like Ross. I don't believe Tammi would be fool enough to give something without getting something.

Tammi was a beautiful young lady, vivacious, with spark and personality. She could have went far and surpassed Diana Ross fame. Tammi didn't have a long career, but what she did left an lasting impression on people, so just think had she lived, what more she would have done to win people over. I believe had she lived she could have went so far. She would have went beyond soul/r&b. She could have sung jazz, pop, standards. She could have been on Broadway, an actress. She had so many capabilities. Some people are born to entertain. Some people need to be taught, but not Tammi, she was a natural for stage and screen. She got out there at a young age, had some trials, but kept on until she made it. I feel had she came to Motown, two years earlier, or before Mary Wells, she could have been a bigger solo artist. I could picture Tammi singing the songs that made Mary Wells famous. Motown didn't promote the singles Tammi recorded very well. Tammi had the mainstream appeal to make it on her own, but she won't be forgotten for those beautiful, loving, soulful duets proving black people can fall in love, make people fall in love, and love. Tammi Terrell, Brenda Holloway, and Patti Drew, in my opnion, were three of the most beautiful soul sisters of the 60's, who had the whole package, yet they are all unsung. Today female performers can't compete with Tammi, Brenda, or Patti. These women actually had talent and natural beauty, they didn't have to use their bodies or sell sex to sell records. I admire the 60's sisters, more then the girls today, because they had class. No matter how they lived offstage, onstage and on tv, they acted with dignity, grace, and sophistication. Their talent was their main focus and they wanted to sell that, not their bodies.

I don't know what it was about the 60's and 70's, but there was a lot of singers who died tragically, Jesse Belvin, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Tony Clarke, Darrell Banks, Billy Stewart, Jackie Wilson, and Tammi, but they left behind a great body of work to be remembered. You don't know how long you have on earth, so do all you can now, leave your mark on the world. Perhaps they had a premonition and knew they wouldn't live long, so they did all they could while alive. It's ashame that the people who wasted their lives, lived to be old, and the people who really enjoyed life died young.

Last not not least, you will learn not just about the performer and artist, but about the woman Tammi was. I think women can learn a lot from Tammi's story. You could use Tammi's life or life experiences as a role model of what to do, or not to do, or for motivation. Ludie brought up some amazing points in the book, for instance, until you know a person's background or childhood, you can't judge why a person does what they does. I agree with that. I think this book will definitely make people think differently about Tammi. Tammi was young when she died, so we can't view her life the same way as we would someone who lived to be older. Ones who have lived to be older can look back on their life and see the wrongs they've done or wrongs done to them and how it affected them. Ludie lived to be older, so she was able to look back and see how certain life experiences in both her and her sister's life may have affected them. Tammi was not able to get older to examine her life and herself or heal from certain experiences Tammi couldn't have truly knew everything about herself at 24, you're still growing, learning, and healing. Tammi loved life in spite of her tragedies. Perhaps her acting out was apart of her releasing her hurt. Everyone deals with pain differently. We have to view Tammi as she was, a young 20 something who made some bad choices and mistakes, you know young and dumb who thought she knew it all, like most young people, not view her as a older woman who kept making the same mistakes and never learned. In spite of her mistakes, her positives outweigh the negatives. You have to admire a woman, who made her own rules in life, and didn't follow the norm.
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on May 2, 2016
I'm obsessed with Tammi Terrell and wanted to get my hands on this gem for a while. The author didn't disappoint, however, I felt like there was a ton of Tammi's life that she didn't know about. I am curious to know her entire story but I guess we will never know...RIP
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