Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday's Book

Welcome to a new follower of my blog: mithilesh cheliyan  

My Sister Tommie
The Real Tammi Terrell
by Ludie Montgomery & Vickie Wright

In the mid 1960s and early '70s, Motown Records produced great music, creating what came to be known as the Motown Sound. At the time, I didn't listen much to the Motown groups, but there were two young singers and a song coming from Motown that I loved: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and the hit Your Precious Love. When Tammi and Marvin teamed up for their far too short-lived partnership, they created some beautiful music -- among the best from that era.

Tammi died of a brain tumor in 1970, at the age of 24. I remember it was such a shock, and as always when a young person dies, it seemed so unfair.

Rachael asked me last summer if I knew who Tammi Terrell was. I told her I did, and that I still have some of her duets with Marvin Gaye among my vinyl treasures. Rachael then told me that her friend, Sylvia, has written a screenplay about Tammi's life, based on a biography, co-authored by a friend of theirs. When she came to visit next, Rachael gave me the book, My Sister Tommie, by Tammi's sister Ludie Montgomery and Vickie Wright. Vickie wrote this note in the front of the book: "Thank you for loving Tammi // Ain't no mountain high enough."

I think you will like this book if you listened to Tammi back then, liked her voice, loved her duets with Marvin Gaye, and wondered what really happened to her: Who was she, where did she come from, and how did she grow up to become such a wonderful singer and such a presence in the music world at the time. 

Ludie does a wonderful job describing their childhood. The girls grew up in a middleclass family in Philadelphia. Their mother was frequently ill, their father, a barber, who also had an entrepreneurial streak, was absent a lot. Their Aunt Alice seems to have been a steady presence in their lives. Tammi decided very early on to pursue a music career and appeared in local Philadelphia clubs and venues. Reading this book, I'm struck by how young she was when she first began her career and how she set out to live her life fully from this very young age. She only lived for 24 years but she was so alive, so bright, fun, and talented, and she knew she wanted to sing.

Tammi also went through difficult times in her young life. Even early on, long before her brain tumor was diagnosed, she was plagued by severe headaches. The men she chose were not the best for her, but then she was so young and had to learn, like most of us. 

The end of the book is, of course, sad. Tammi was so young and she went through so much pain related to her illness. But she was also a very strong and inspirational young woman. I found out that she was with a good man at the end of her life and that made me smile. 


And I still have her music, but, of course, nothing to play it on. Is there a CD out there? I should check.


  1. Yahoo...I have had a great time reading all the posts that I somehow didn't get. Maybe I saved it from that one post instead of home and it only showed that one...I don't know but am glad all is well!

  2. I suppose this was when I was knee deep in diapers and my ex only played country western music, I just don't remember her. It's sad, not to be remembered when so many say how wonderful you are. Tragic that she had to pass - so young - with good things ahead of her.

  3. oh wow I didn't know that...I love Motown music grew up on it..thank you for sharing..I would like to read the book...

  4. She was beautiful AND talented. I love that song too. :)

  5. Inger, I'm sure you can find CD's with their music. They were great and that Motown sound keeps me pumping at the Y!...:)JP

  6. How sad, I remember the song, but not her. Thanks for telling us about someone who doesn't deserve to be forgotten.

  7. Hej du rara!

    Tack för att du tittade in till mig.
    Här var det mysigt med en massa goa vovsingar och annat.;-)

    Kram Stina

  8. I know of Marvin Gaye, but had not heard of Tammi Terrell. This sounds like an interesting book and Tammi must have been a courageous young woman. Thank you for sharing this review with us, Inger. :)

  9. Marvin and Tammi were great together. Loved that kind of music.

  10. Nice post, I always love to hear Marvin and Tammy together.

  11. Hi Inger! So glad to be in blogland again. I remember that song,for some reason it gives me goosebumps thinking about it now. It is really sad that she died so young.

  12. You have such varied tastes, Inger. I loved Motown back then....and still do. Sounds like a great biography. Will look for it today at the library. Thanks for this.


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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