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  1. #1

    Did anyone on here personally know Sandra Tilley?

    I am beginning a passion project which highlights and profiles the achievements of Motown stars who have fascinated me and who I consider, "unsung," for a local Arizona publication / music blog.

    One of the individuals I would like to cover in this series is the late Sandra Tilley, and I was wondering if any fans had the chance to meet her or anyone had a personal connection.

    This project is being driven by only the most respectful intentions and my love of music, and won't contain any hearsay or rumors about social drama; In the case of Sandra, I would like to celebrate her career in music and find some folks who know came in contact or knew her personally for complete context.

    I am looking for as much material as I can gather, so feel free to message me privately if you don't feel comfortable addressing it here.
    Last edited by loganjlr; 07-01-2019 at 02:22 AM.

  2. #2
    I did not know her, but have chatted with a younger, girl cousin of hers from Cleveland on Youtube years ago. She talked about how Sandy loved to sing, was very nice to her family and how they all were proud of her. I would not know how to find the woman again now.

  3. #3
    What a wonderful idea. I certainly didn't "know" Sandra Tilley, but I did meet her once. It was way back in 1971 when she, Martha and Lois were touring the UK opening for Stevie Wonder. I met them all as they came out of the theatre long after Stevie had been whisked away in his limo. She appeared first out of the front entrance, walking towards the coach that was to carry them and the musicians onto the next venue, or a hotel I guess. She was all alone, and was met by one or two fans, including me. She was clearly tired, but smiling and very sweet. She was very petite and delicate, and so beautiful! I was totally charmed by her. I can't recall a word she said, but she did autograph my copy of Natural Resources, as subsequently did Lois and Martha. a treasured possession to this day.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpmoves View Post
    What a wonderful idea. I certainly didn't "know" Sandra Tilley, but I did meet her once. It was way back in 1971 when she, Martha and Lois were touring the UK opening for Stevie Wonder. I met them all as they came out of the theatre long after Stevie had been whisked away in his limo. She appeared first out of the front entrance, walking towards the coach that was to carry them and the musicians onto the next venue, or a hotel I guess. She was all alone, and was met by one or two fans, including me. She was clearly tired, but smiling and very sweet. She was very petite and delicate, and so beautiful! I was totally charmed by her. I can't recall a word she said, but she did autograph my copy of Natural Resources, as subsequently did Lois and Martha. a treasured possession to this day.
    I never met her but I have learned about her through Lois. I can put you in touch with Lois who loved Sandy dearly and they stayed in touch. I can also put you in touch with Scherrie Payne who was friends with Lois. Send me a private message.

  5. #5
    Martha & the Vandellas has been on my want list for as “Unsung” documentary! Would love to hear the tea about all the members!

  6. #6
    I think they were too big to be considered unsung
    Quote Originally Posted by jboy88 View Post
    Martha & the Vandellas has been on my want list for as “Unsung” documentary! Would love to hear the tea about all the members!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by blackguy69 View Post
    I think they were too big to be considered unsung
    They are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame so not "unsung".

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by BayouMotownMan View Post
    I never met her but I have learned about her through Lois. I can put you in touch with Lois who loved Sandy dearly and they stayed in touch. I can also put you in touch with Scherrie Payne who was friends with Lois. Send me a private message.
    That would be legendary, and to include these Motown stars in my article as direct, firsthand quotes would be ideal. Feel free to email me at LoganRasmussen@Rocketmail.com if you'd like to talk to me more about it.

    Do you have any possible leads on Carolyn Gill and/or Annette McMillan from The Velvelettes? If there's any remaining songwriters, producers, or support staff from classic Motown who knew her that come to mind, do let me know; I just want to make sure I cover all the bases.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpmoves View Post
    What a wonderful idea. I certainly didn't "know" Sandra Tilley, but I did meet her once. It was way back in 1971 when she, Martha and Lois were touring the UK opening for Stevie Wonder. I met them all as they came out of the theatre long after Stevie had been whisked away in his limo. She appeared first out of the front entrance, walking towards the coach that was to carry them and the musicians onto the next venue, or a hotel I guess. She was all alone, and was met by one or two fans, including me. She was clearly tired, but smiling and very sweet. She was very petite and delicate, and so beautiful! I was totally charmed by her. I can't recall a word she said, but she did autograph my copy of Natural Resources, as subsequently did Lois and Martha. a treasured possession to this day.
    There is a chance I might want to include fan stories, even if they are brief.

    Does anyone know the status of Sandra's husband?

  9. #9
    Duke Fakir knew Sandy. It was he that brought her to Motown.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Duke Fakir knew Sandy. It was he that brought her to Motown.
    Noted! I appreciate everyone's helpfulness. After I complete this piece on Sandra, I plan on doing pieces on Ann Bogan, Wanda Young, and a few others I have in mind in which I haven't reached out to yet. I recently sent a message to Ann's son and Wanda's, but I am awaiting a response. My main concern is treading as carefully as possible, since I understand many of these individuals are now living quiet lives, and I don't want to give anyone the impression that I'm looking for gossip.

    These articles will primarily be interviews focusing on the music they made and celebrating their entire professional career, as well as 2019 updates to their present-day life.

  11. #11
    I don't, but I remember Sandra Tilley well from the cover of 'Black Magic'. Tell the lady she's remembered and loved!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    I don't, but I remember Sandra Tilley well from the cover of 'Black Magic'. Tell the lady she's remembered and loved!
    Tilley retired from the music industry and got married in July 1972.[4] Tilley developed a brain tumor around 1979, and surgery was performed at a hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada in mid-1981. Tilley died after having a brain aneurysm on September 9, 1981 at the age of 35 or 36 (sources differ).[5] Tilley had no children, and was survived by her husband and grandmother. Tilley was originally from Cleveland, Ohio.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post
    Tilley retired from the music industry and got married in July 1972.[4] Tilley developed a brain tumor around 1979, and surgery was performed at a hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada in mid-1981. Tilley died after having a brain aneurysm on September 9, 1981 at the age of 35 or 36 (sources differ).[5] Tilley had no children, and was survived by her husband and grandmother. Tilley was originally from Cleveland, Ohio.
    Her grave is still unmarked after all of these years!

    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/.../sandra-tilley
    Last edited by marv2; 07-01-2019 at 08:48 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by loganjlr View Post
    That would be legendary, and to include these Motown stars in my article as direct, firsthand quotes would be ideal. Feel free to email me at LoganRasmussen@Rocketmail.com if you'd like to talk to me more about it.

    Do you have any possible leads on Carolyn Gill and/or Annette McMillan from The Velvelettes? If there's any remaining songwriters, producers, or support staff from classic Motown who knew her that come to mind, do let me know; I just want to make sure I cover all the bases.




    There is a chance I might want to include fan stories, even if they are brief.

    Does anyone know the status of Sandra's husband?
    Annette McMillan's children, her son and daughter posts on Youtube.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post
    Tilley retired from the music industry and got married in July 1972.[4] Tilley developed a brain tumor around 1979, and surgery was performed at a hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada in mid-1981. Tilley died after having a brain aneurysm on September 9, 1981 at the age of 35 or 36 (sources differ).[5] Tilley had no children, and was survived by her husband and grandmother. Tilley was originally from Cleveland, Ohio.
    She's buried at Highland Park Cemetery near Cleveland.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by blackguy69 View Post
    I think they were too big to be considered unsung
    I said the same thing about Otis Redding & BB King!

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by jboy88 View Post
    Martha & the Vandellas has been on my want list for as “Unsung” documentary! Would love to hear the tea about all the members!
    They were just the second all female group to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and have a very memorable catalog so...no.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by jboy88 View Post
    I said the same thing about Otis Redding & BB King!
    Unsung needs to stop adding in legends like that. Bobby Bland and Johnnie Taylor too. All of these guys were all certified LEGENDS (so was Donny Hathaway and the Clark Sisters), what was so unsung about them?

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post
    Tilley retired from the music industry and got married in July 1972.[4] Tilley developed a brain tumor around 1979, and surgery was performed at a hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada in mid-1981. Tilley died after having a brain aneurysm on September 9, 1981 at the age of 35 or 36 (sources differ).[5] Tilley had no children, and was survived by her husband and grandmother. Tilley was originally from Cleveland, Ohio.
    Well, that's sad news but I thank you for it anyway, Lakeside. I'll hope that Sandra's last years were happy ones.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    She's buried at Highland Park Cemetery near Cleveland.

    I had no idea Sandra was buried at Highland Park. I pass it
    all the time. It's in Beachwood on Chagrin Blvd., right off
    the expressway.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post

    I had no idea Sandra was buried at Highland Park. I pass it
    all the time. It's in Beachwood on Chagrin Blvd., right off
    the expressway.
    Here's the link to her grave and tributes. It does indeed appear to be unmarked.

    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/.../sandra-tilley

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpmoves View Post
    Here's the link to her grave and tributes. It does indeed appear to be unmarked.

    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/.../sandra-tilley
    Yeah I posted that earlier here. Her grave is still unmarked after over 30 years!

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Yeah I posted that earlier here. Her grave is still unmarked after over 30 years!
    I'm by there so often, I'd gladly put some flowers on her grave....but....how would I find it?

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post
    I'm by there so often, I'd gladly put some flowers on her grave....but....how would I find it?
    Lakeside that is kind of you. They list the plot number on the "Find A Grave" page. You would need help from the Cemetery office to find it. They will know where it is.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Lakeside that is kind of you. They list the plot number on the "Find A Grave" page. You would need help from the Cemetery office to find it. They will know where it is.
    Thank you.

  26. #26
    How sad that her plot is unmarked. I wonder if this decision was due to a financial constaint? If so, I'd be more than happy to donate toward getting her a proper marker, if anyone wished to start a fan campaign. Whatever happened to the Motown Alumni Association? It would be nice if they could step up in taking this on.

  27. #27
    I was just doing some quick research on this particular cemetery and apparently it's horribly maintained. Perhaps getting a marker would be difficult.

    We love Sandra Tilley. Never forgotten!
    Last edited by carlo; 07-02-2019 at 01:34 PM.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by carlo View Post
    I was just doing some quick research on this particular cemetery and apparently it's horribly maintained, almost to the point of sounding abandoned.

    We love Sandra Tilley. Never forgotten!
    That's interesting Carlo, as this cemetery is in a rather affluent area of
    Beachwood and Shaker Heights (Cleveland). Driving by, you would not
    know this. That is indeed sad if it's that poorly maintained. There are
    mostly businesses and restaurants in the area. There's a PF Changs across the street which I've eaten at a number of times. Little did I know Sandra Tilley was buried across the street.

  29. #29
    Very interesting, Lakeside. Hopefully the write-ups I've seen about this cemetery are not as accurate as they seem, as it would be quite sad. I hope you are able to find the location of her plot and able to pay your respects. Apparently she was buried in the same plot as her Grandmother who raised her.

  30. #30
    This is sad to hear. I never knew.

  31. #31
    Actually the Vandellas last performance was either December 21 or 31 1972. I wouldn’t expect Wikipedia to be correct lol.
    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post
    Tilley retired from the music industry and got married in July 1972.[4] Tilley developed a brain tumor around 1979, and surgery was performed at a hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada in mid-1981. Tilley died after having a brain aneurysm on September 9, 1981 at the age of 35 or 36 (sources differ).[5] Tilley had no children, and was survived by her husband and grandmother. Tilley was originally from Cleveland, Ohio.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by blackguy69 View Post
    Actually the Vandellas last performance was either December 21 or 31 1972. I wouldn’t expect Wikipedia to be correct lol.
    I believe it was December 31, 1972 at Cobo Hall in Detroit.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    I believe it was December 31, 1972 at Cobo Hall in Detroit.
    Yep, I think that's the correct date.

  34. #34
    Did the Vandellas break up because Martha had signed with MCA as a solo?

  35. #35
    they released Black Magic in spring 72. Bless you had been released the previous Sept. and then In and out in Dec. that's a bit of a long lag between a lead single (and 2nd single) and the subsequent album.

    Tear it on down was then released right around the time of Black Magic. and then the group split by end of year. the 2nd and 3rd singles at least got into the top 40 of R&B but really didn't do much on the pop charts.

    This is also around the time Motown closed down the Detroit offices and moved west. Martha also had had her son. in 71 or so, Motown had established the MoWest label and MRATV were one of the artists that were going to shift to that. Given how over the years so many backing vocalists had recorded as "Vandellas" i'm guessing that Martha might have been thinking, maybe it's time to just be a solo singer. it's not like the girls really interacted as a group with group goals. they were always sort of there just as vocal backing for Martha. And the name was a bit dated too.

    Martha flew out to LA to meet with some potential bands and groups to see about being a front-woman/singer. She was also still using quite a bit of drugs and still had some personal issues. Given her lack of major chart success, her troubles with the motown staff, her mental and personal issues, i think the label just figured "time to let this one go"

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