View Full Version : What Tammi might have done


09-23-2010, 07:29 PM
With all the excellent recent news about Tammi it has got me thinking about what direction she might have followed had she not died.

I could foresee further collaboration with Marvin but as a solo artist I would envisage that Motown would have not allowed her to stray into Diana territory and possibly taken her towards a more hard hitting sound.

I know that this is all speculation given her untimely death but I can imagine that her vocal versatility may have resulted in her recording songs in the Teena Marie "spectrum" as well as her softer style.

Perhaps she would have left Motown too - anybody know when her contract was going to expire?

What do you think?


09-23-2010, 11:35 PM
I think that Tammi's upward curve would not have remained on a steady slope. Instead, due to her drive, talent, showbiz connections, etc., her slope would have shot even higher... virtually 90 degrees straight into the stratosphere. Diana was so established that she would have been ok... just would've had to share the Motown spotlight more. The two would probably have developed a mutually respectful comraderie -at least publicly and possibly from their hearts. Tammi was becoming very powerful and had so much going for her that I don't think BG would've wanted to find himself on the outside looking in once her contract expired, likely in '72.

Let's not forget that when the J5 left Motown, they had already peaked so I doubt BG could acurately foresee what was slipping away in the form of the future mega-star MJ. Tammi was hugely in demand with the public, even to the point that promoters really didn't want the long-established MG without her. Tammi was smart enough to try to keep the peace, while using her talent and charm to get what she wanted professionally. Yet she was strong enough to use the power she was amassing to her advantage.

Unfortunately I do believe that Tammi had so many demons, that while she would have loved her success, eventually nagging issues and habits would have claimed much of her happiness, at least temporarily. The fact that she would have become SO big coupled with the fact that she lacked some normalcy in her childhood might have left her with a lot of hangups similar to MJ. Finding a man secure enough to handle her celebrity while achieving his own dreams might have been a real pain for the superstar.

Just possibly though, the way she enjoyed her work and the love of her fans, plus her close family and the deep positive friendship with MG might have been enough to sustain her through the storm of public scrutiny that was sure to come. And her continued prosperity might have continued to inspire MG through his own demons.

I believe the talented and driven Diana would still have prospered, but Tammi would have played Billie H in the movies... and would have developed the goodwill in the industry to have won the Oscar. And so many of the negative tales that have become legendary would virtually have faded away with Tammi still here and healthy. She would have given the world so much more to focus upon.

Oh well, that's my take on things that would have been, of course imho.

09-24-2010, 12:11 AM
I disagree On The Lady Sings the Blues aspect..it had been developed for several years as a Ross project Gordy had sentimental feelings towards Billie and it was natural that the love of his Life (Ross) would play one of his jazz heroines.
On the oscar- there was no way the academy could ignore Judy Garlands contribution to the industry to many voters it was a controversy that she did not win for A Star Is Born,Many of the voters knew Garland personally and sadness over her death led them to vote for Liza- in such situations it is not merely whos the most popular but there is a political industry bias as well - No one would have won over Liza that year it also helped that her performance of Sally Bowles was a tour de Force.
I doubt any movie role would have gone to Tammi over Diana,Berry didnt personally involve himself in any Motown act the way He looked after Diana - He wanted Diana queen and he was king...

09-24-2010, 12:16 AM
I think if Tammi lived and her career really started to take off, I believe Ashford & Simpson would have been the ones who wrote and produced for her. Given the success they had with her and Marvin, they would have likely been assigned to her. I could see a lot of the tracks Ashford & Simpson did for Diana would have gone to Tammi like the revamped version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Surrender," "I Can't Give Back The Love I Feel For You," etc.

09-24-2010, 01:08 AM
Positive soul is right about Tammi's Demons. I also imagine that Tammi and Michael Jackson would have had a strong friendship based in part of there trails. Perhaps she could have helped MJ during his rough moments. But then again He had plenty of other close peers to help him out that couldn't get through to him. But at least Tammi would have been able to relate.

09-24-2010, 07:45 AM
jboy... I think TT & MJ would have enjoyed a famously close relationship, personally and professionally.

brad-s... agreed! BG would have been so desperate to find the right launch for DR that he might even have felt compelled to settle and seriously reconcile with HDH.

nomis... points taken and respected. Still this is an exercise in fantasy. I can easily imagine a world with a healthy, skyrocketing TT where there would remain plenty of appropriate vehicles for the talented DR without her being slighted. I just think that TT would have been a more readily apparent option to play Lady Day. No competition for that role is imagined by me between the two stars. In fact that vehicle wouldn't necessarily have been Motown's first.

However I must state at this point that BG was a businessman first, a sentimentalist second. Without slighting his already developed superstar, I still don't see him overlooking full utilization of an act that most felt could quite possibly have soared to even higher heights. Ultimately, a superstar TT would have had options unpresented to other Motown stars. Her professional roots were already very deep.

I imagine a fully unleashed TT charming the world in the same way that she did so many around her in the know -once the huge impact of the duets and future hits, duet AND solo, fully exposed her to the masses. Bob Hope and others had already expressed strong desire to work with Tammi. Johnny Cash was a fan. She had strong ties to Sammy Davis, who likely would have been her link to Sinatra. Extreme Talent, Drive, Beauty & Charm... showbiz was created to capitalize on these attributes. I believe her impact would have made history -especially for a black woman- that few can imagine... at least prior to UnSung!

honest man
09-24-2010, 10:03 AM
I Love T ammi Terrell but really , i think she had peaked with marvin, i read she may have been considered for lead spot in the supremes had she lived, but i really do think she would have become part of the redundant singers at motown, martha ,velvelettes , marvelettes , brenda , etc berry ;s dream was the bigger picture, and i think he got the best for diana, AandS, nobody was to stand in the way, this is no put down, as i love both/all these singers,i think god forbid if it had been martha say, we would be now saying what would have happened to her future, as we all know,just another singer, that's the reality of things, in my humble opinion, cheers

09-24-2010, 04:06 PM
Tammi Terrell no doubt would have gone on to greater success - in what direction we will never know - However, I do not think that at Motown she would of had the chance to outshine it's true star Diana Ross, in as much as the 325 BMW does not outshine the 750 BMW - both great but on different levels. No had she become lead singer of The Supremes - they may have gone on longer - perhaps.

Since Tammi remains so closely tied to Marvin Gaye - I do believe that they as a duo would have increased demand - and then possible movie roles for them together - but remember the bad blood between Gordy and Mrvin - and Gordy's sister married to Marvin>

Whee - what a company!!!!!!!!!!!!1

09-24-2010, 05:39 PM
How many female artists did Motown really push in the 70s besides Diana? and how many of them actually scored hits?
....It aint many..

09-24-2010, 06:00 PM
"How many female artists did Motown really push in the 70s besides Diana? and how many of them actually scored hits?
....It aint many.."

That's the thing I never understood. It was okay for Motown to push Marvin, Stevie, and then later Smokey, yet Motown never pushed for any other female solo singer other than Diana Ross. This was Berry's doing. He didn't want any woman at the company to threaten Diana's chances of being the superstar, which is a shame because many artists deserved to be huge stars as well, but never got the push (ex. Kim Weston, The Velvelettes, Blinky, Tammi Terrell.) I think that if Motown pushed other artists just as they were pushing Diana, the company would have more huge stars at the label. Tammi and all the other ladies were no threat to Berry's goal with Diana. He could still have achieved the successes with Diana while still allowing artists like Kim, Tammi, Brenda, and Blinky reach the top of the charts and be successful female stars at the label.

09-24-2010, 09:00 PM
With all the excellent recent news about Tammi it has got me thinking about what direction she might have followed had she not died.

I could foresee further collaboration with Marvin but as a solo artist I would envisage that Motown would have not allowed her to stray into Diana territory and possibly taken her towards a more hard hitting sound.

I know that this is all speculation given her untimely death but I can imagine that her vocal versatility may have resulted in her recording songs in the Teena Marie "spectrum" as well as her softer style.

Perhaps she would have left Motown too - anybody know when her contract was going to expire?

What do you think?


Given that your question only allows for Tammi not dying, everything else would have remained the same. Given the state of her health, if she hadn't died when she did, she would quite likely have been in a state of convalescence for a long time. But snarkiness aside, I agree with Honest Man, talented and wonderful as she was I think she would have gone the same way as most of the other women of Motown of the 60's (Ross excepted). If she were alive today, she would be a beloved and treasured singer on the oldies circuit.

09-24-2010, 09:07 PM
Interesting points that everyone has brought to the surface. I have only one and that is Tammi would have left Motown as well as Ashford and Simpson and Marvin Gaye. I think there would have been a few hits with another company but nothing that would have compared to her status with motown. On another note I think she would have probably gotten married and left show business.

09-25-2010, 02:56 AM
I think Tammi living would have had a profound impact on Marvin as well. There would have been another album, but how long could Marvin have lasted after that? Sure, his professional love for her is legendary... but how long would that last when he is trying to do his thing & all he hears is "when is the next album with Tammi?"

Marvin used the heartache of Tammi's death to take himself further creatively. It truly effected his soul. Erase that and what replaces it? Does his resentment of how his brother-in-law handled Tammi's illness/death somehow become transferred to a professional jealousy? Marvin & Tammi were a flame that burned as bright as could be for a very short time. That flame continues to shine bright because it never had the chance to dim before it was lost forever.

Tammi is like the feeling you get when a beautiful girl smiles at you, but you never talk to her. You remember that smile due to it's pure, untarnished beauty. Sadly, you likely once had the same feeling for an ex that you don't even think about anymore.

I remember Tammi for what we have of her. She makes me smile. :)

09-26-2010, 04:31 PM
Hey all, I think it's great that we ALL seem to agree on Tammi's talent! In the area where we disagree, it's still very cool that it's just a trivial difference of opinions between Friends respecting each other's views. This is not a veiled plea for civility, but rather a Thanks and Congrats for what this Forum is ALREADY accomplishing... and I LIKE it. :)

That said, I think that I see a difference in Tammi from the vast majority of other young Motown stars during the Classic Years. This is not a put-down of the others whom I also enjoy to a very great degree. But Tammi Terrell was, at her young age, quite an industry veteran. Many stars have noted in interviews how she really knew the business... and knew how and when to demand her professional rights. I think that Tammi had the career drive of Diana Ross plus a lot of industry-wide goodwill amongst influential people. This remains true even if she possibly had to wait until the expiration of her Motown contract to capitalize fully.

Additionally, Tammi, like Marvin was an accomplished musician with the creative insticts and experiences of other greats whose company she frequented like Aretha, Sam Cooke, Etta James, Curtis, Dinah and on and on. She wasn't just a very talented kid from the projects -exposed to the Big Time only through Mr. Gordy. I think these factors would ultimately have made a decisive difference. I shudder to think of her accomplishments after securing her artistic freedom -probably through charm, or by any creative and professional means this true warrior felt necessary. The potential guest artists and influences on her future duet and solo projects boggle the mind.

While respecting the well-expressed and possibly valid views of others on this, I think that, to his credit, BG in 1967 was showing a willingness (if not a resignation) to at least allow Tammi full recognition as a pop duet star... this sure beats the virtual oblivion outside of the soul market that too many Motown greats had to accept. Even the approved liner notes on the (pre-tumor awareness) United album, where she is described as one who is "going places" in the industry, points to big plans ultimately approved and orchestrated by BG. He knew that she would likely make him MILLIONS and seemed to be in full expectation of this.

Had Tammi not only survived, but never experienced a serious health interruption, I for one, believe firmly that this smart woman (with weaknesses) would have known how to eventually get most of what she wanted from her chosen profession, while loyally helping friends to achieve their dreams as well. Many who went on to noted success in entertainment speak of Tammi taking them under her wings or supporting them, even when it might not have been the easiest course to take.

Ultimately she might even have satisfied that hunger she had and settled into a nice semi-retirement from which only Marvin, BG or her many appreciated fans could occasionally pull her back. Hopefully that would have been with her loving fiance, then husband Dr. Garrett and a bunch of happy, talented kids. Nice picture.

09-26-2010, 07:29 PM
Thing is her death wasn't avoidable. Tammi had headaches going back to childhood but her family didn't know how to deal with it and as it got worse over the years, it was probably inevitable that she would live a short life. Sometimes your life is mapped out for you in childhood.

09-26-2010, 07:52 PM
and also modern medicine has advanced so far from the time of her death,Many many thousands of people died in this era of poor diagnosis and treatment in this respect she was a victim of the time she lived in..

09-26-2010, 08:07 PM
^ Exactly. She had no choice but boy did everyone around her wanted her to live. I can see how it crushed Marvin, he was helpless to do anything to help Tammi live like everyone else. I'm sure that people thank God for bringing her to their lives. I know Marvin did the next fourteen years of his life.

09-26-2010, 08:30 PM
Not long ago a radio host stated on air that she died as a result of Marvin beating her..I immeadiatley rang the station and got hold of the host and told him he was very incorrect.."Thats what I have written infront of me.." he said I filled him in on a few home truths.."Can I put you on air to correct this mistake" I declined I had just woken up and the first thing on the radio I heard was this bull- I told him he could correct his false statement himself for the listeners..which he had the decency to do..I unfortunatley see alot more of this kind of thing as time goes on..boy was I mad!

09-27-2010, 07:32 AM
Tammi would have recorded another duet album with MG, possibly called Let's Get It On. It would contain songs interwoven through each other like What's Going On but with lyrics similar to I Want You. A concept album of love songs that flow together like a medley. A soundscape that takes you on a journey in love. Imagine What's Going On meets Let's Get It On or I Want You.

She would have married that doctor, too.