[REMOVE ADS]




Results 1 to 29 of 29
  1. #1

    What happened to Sandra Tilley ?

    Greetings to all !


    I don't know if this has been a topic of conversation in the forum, as I am still fairly new to the site, but does anyone know what ever became of Sandra Tilley after she left the Vandellas ?
    What her whereabouts were following the Vandellas final performance at Cobo Hall in 1972? I honestly have grown very interested in her story, due to the fact that there isn't too much information on her. I know that she worked as a fill in for other groups, was a member of the later Velvelettes, and then to the late Vandellas, and has been said that she passed in late 1981 at a very young age. Did any of you know who she was personally? In Martha Reeves' book she wrote that Tilley had married a wealthy man in Texas, sometime in the 1970s. But, I don't understand how her grave would be unmarked if she had married into a supposedly wealthy family. Other sources suggest that she married in Las Vegas in 1972, however, upon my brief research, I haven't found proof of her marrying. Do any of you have any knowledge of her life?

  2. #2
    https://youtu.be/Xf0n8x73kaQ

    Here is a video of a song I believe the be sung by Sandra titled "Bring Back The Sunshine". Carolyn Gill has been credited to have sung lead on this recording, however, the leading voice dosen't sound quite the same as Gill's other Velvelette recordings. Some of the later recordings, by the Velvelettes were re-recorded with Tilley leading, like "Honey Love". I also believe that this song was recorded twice.


    I digress...
    Going back to the main topic of this post, does anyone have any knowledge Sandra Tilly's life or the events which occurred in her later years ?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    3,186
    Rep Power
    148
    Hi Danny, and Welcome! I wish I could help you, but all I know is that Sandra died of cancer in Las Vegas in 1981. Personally, I can offer you this: To my ears, the best-sounding group of Vandellas in live performance was the final grouping -- Martha Reeves, sister Lois Reeves, and Sandra Tilley. Vocally, they were outstanding, and their choreography was top-notch.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    6,228
    Rep Power
    239
    Lois Reeves has been on a mission to find the family of Sandra, in hopes of finally getting her a grave marker. I've done some sleuthing myself, but so far have come up empty. Sandy was "adopted" at a young age, so it makes connecting the dots difficult.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,751
    Rep Power
    190
    I have spoken to Martha about Sandy, it seems she and Lois only heard from her sporadically after the Vandellas disbanded. She did marry and was living in Las Vegas and ran a boutique. She had a brain tumor and died either during or immediately after surgery. Lois was close to Sandy and they kept more in touch and I can tell Lois still grieves Sandy's death. God Bless Lois for trying to get a marker on her grave.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Posts
    362
    Rep Power
    102
    I have heard the same story about the beautiful Sandra Tilley. I was lucky enough to see Martha, Lois and Sandy perform live in 1971, and they were briliant, graceful and stunningly beautiful. The moves were really fluid and sexy too. I found this on the internet about Sandy's grave.
    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/.../sandra-tilley

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Posts
    533
    Rep Power
    117
    I would assume since the location of the grave is known, the issue Lois is likely having getting a stone installed is most all cemetery boards require it be the immediate family/next of kin who OK the gravestone design and epitaph text. It seems if it could be presented to the Highland Park Cemetery owners that a memorial would like to be installed by friends/fans that they might make an exception, especially since she was a public figure. Since next of kin have been impossible to find due to the situation of adoption, whoever wants to foot the bill should be able to do so in this case and give her due recognition.
    Darin

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Posts
    2,847
    Rep Power
    230
    Sandra Tilley [[1946-1981) - Find a Grave Memorial

    The only thing I can add is she's buried at Highland Park Cemetery in Cleveland. There's a PF Chángs restaurant directly across the street I've eaten at many times...totally unaware Sandra was buried there. It was only fairly recently I discovered that

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    4,071
    Rep Power
    236
    Quote Originally Posted by dannyboy1968 View Post
    https://youtu.be/Xf0n8x73kaQ

    Here is a video of a song I believe the be sung by Sandra titled "Bring Back The Sunshine". Carolyn Gill has been credited to have sung lead on this recording, however, the leading voice dosen't sound quite the same as Gill's other Velvelette recordings. Some of the later recordings, by the Velvelettes were re-recorded with Tilley leading, like "Honey Love". I also believe that this song was recorded twice.


    I digress...
    Going back to the main topic of this post, does anyone have any knowledge Sandra Tilly's life or the events which occurred in her later years ?
    Sandra is not singing lead on "Bring Back The Sunshine." I know John Lester can confirm this but Carolyn remembers recording it with Ashford & Simpson watching her in the control booth.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    8,329
    Rep Power
    346
    I believe Sandra sang lead on the Velvelettes' version of I'M IN LOVE [[AND I KNOW IT), released on one of the recent Ace collections.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    4,071
    Rep Power
    236
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    I believe Sandra sang lead on the Velvelettes' version of I'M IN LOVE [[AND I KNOW IT), released on one of the recent Ace collections.
    Correct. She did two leads - “We’ve Got Honey Love” and “I’m In Love [[And I Know It).” I’m not sure what else she recorded with the Velvelettes and Vandellas. Just about everything I heard from her time in both groups are Andantes. Motown pretty much only cared about getting Martha and Carolyn’s leads. I think Sandra was primarily a Velvelette and Vandella for performance purposes.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,751
    Rep Power
    190
    Martha said Lois and Sandy are on Something, and I think I hear them, Lois especially, are on Anyone Who Had A Heart

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Posts
    839
    Rep Power
    69
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    I believe Sandra sang lead on the Velvelettes' version of I'M IN LOVE [[AND I KNOW IT), released on one of the recent Ace collections.
    Actually, both Sandra and Cal did versions of the song, and both have been released.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpmoves View Post
    I have heard the same story about the beautiful Sandra Tilley. I was lucky enough to see Martha, Lois and Sandy perform live in 1971, and they were briliant, graceful and stunningly beautiful. The moves were really fluid and sexy too. I found this on the internet about Sandy's grave.
    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/.../sandra-tilley
    Do you recall meeting with her, or any recollection of her in general ?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Posts
    5,496
    Rep Power
    279
    [QUOTE=lakeside;729473]Sandra Tilley [[1946-1981) - Find a Grave Memorial

    The only thing I can add is she's buried at Highland Park Cemetery in Cleveland. There's a PF Chángs restaurant directly across the street I've eaten at many times...totally unaware Sandra was buried there. It was only fairly recently I discovered that[/QUOTESo it seems that Sandra's resting place is unmarked. Am I correct?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    6,228
    Rep Power
    239
    Yes, her grave in unmarked. It sounds like Lois would like to rectify that, but wants to get in touch with Sandy's family first. Perhaps for permission? I've been in touch with two individuals who I believe are Sandy's kin, but neither have responded to me as of yet.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Posts
    362
    Rep Power
    102
    Quote Originally Posted by dannyboy1968 View Post
    Do you recall meeting with her, or any recollection of her in general ?
    I did meet her, late one evening after a concert in Bournemouth. It was February 1971, and they were all three in furs. Sandy was tiny, very sweet and smiling [[even though she was tired). She, Lois and Martha autographed my [[then brand new) copy of Natural Resources. Unforgettable.

  18. #18
    UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE:

    Hello All!

    I am unsure if anyone will see this, but for the past week or so, my interest in Tilley's limited-known life story has deepened. I found myself growing increasingly curious about the life of this unsung Motown icon. My curiosity has led me to do a bit of digging into the life of Sandra Tilley. I PROMISE I AM NOT WEIRD, LOL! But, for some reason, I have just been curious about her life before and after her Motown years. And I will say, that I found more than I anticipated. From my findings, I discovered that there were a few errors made on her Wikipedia page. For instance, Tilley didn't move to Detroit to live with her aunt Shirley, she would remain in Cleveland for most of her earlier years.

    Tilley was born to Merrile Tilley and Constance Andrews on May 3rd, 1946.

    Her maternal mother, Constance Andrews, was born in West Virginia in 1925 to a native Caribbean man born in Grenada called James and an African American woman who was called Beulah who was also from West Virginia. Her father Merrile Tilley Jr. born in 1918 was a WW2 soldier from Milliedgivell, Georgia.
    Her parents were not the vaudeville dancers the Wiki page claims them to be [[at least, I couldn’t find any records of dancers in the Cleveland area who went by the name of Tilley in the 1940s) and I don’t think the affair of her parents lasted very long. Although the couple would marry in 1945, her father would pass before she was born [[sometime in January 1946), and her mother pass in a very unfortunate “collision” in 1947.

    In 1947, Tilley would be adopted by her grandparents Beulah & James and remained in their care until her early adult years. Sandra Tilley attended East High School in Cleveland and would graduate with the class of 1964. During her years at East High School, she would study violin in her music classes [[I suppose this is where her interest in music began)

    [[There are some grey areas as to what happened between the time she graduated from East High in 1964 & signed to Motown in 66’. I suppose there was some truth to her moving to Detroit with her mother’s sister Shirley Andrews).

    I think we are all familiar with the events which would occur with Tilley after she signed with Motown Records. She would be recruited by Cal of The Velvelettes in 1965, and sing with them until they disbanded in 67’. And she would soon join Martha Reeves and The Vandellas in 1968. She’d play at the Copacabana in New York and meet with stars like Judy Garland. Then tour the U.K with the group in 1970. [[There are still some grey areas in my research, as to her whereabouts following The Vandellas breaking up. I found numerous accounts which suggested that she did Indeed marry & settle somewhere in Texas, however, I am not certain. )

    My discoveries also lead me to find out that she passed away in 1983, not 1981. Although her Wiki page suggests that she passed in 81’ the sources state that she passed on the date September 9th, 1983.
    I, also, found that she does indeed still have a family ALIVE AND WELL in Cleveland Ohio. This leads me to wonder if they have any knowledge of the fact that she remains in an unmarked grave after nearly 40 years, or even the slightest knowledge of her passing in 1983. Or if Lois Reeves knew of her living family in Cleveland during her "search"?


    As to all of my fellow soulfuldetroiters... Is there still any interest in possibly getting some sort of memorial created for Tilley, or even the slightest reconsideration of having a proper headstone created for her final resting place?
    Last edited by dannyboy1968; 11-16-2022 at 12:10 AM. Reason: .

  19. #19
    Name:  hqdefault.jpg
Views: 271
Size:  16.5 KB
    For those Unfimilar, Tilley is the young lady pictured furthest to the top right on the Top pic ... and top left on the bottom pic...
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by dannyboy1968; 11-16-2022 at 12:01 AM. Reason: mistake

  20. #20


    Here is another beautiful portrait of Tilley taken during the "Sugar N Spice" album cover photo session in 1969.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    932
    Rep Power
    181
    It would be interesting to hear from Cal Gill about how she first crossed paths with Sandy that resulted in her being asked to join The Velvelettes. [Is the Velv's biggest fan, John, still participating in these forums that he might see this and be able to ask her?] Might Cal even have some insight as to how Sandy eventually wound up in The Vandellas? What did Sandy do between 1967 when the Velvelettes broke up and late 1968 when she replaced Rosalind Ashford in the Vandellas? Did she work a day job in Detroit? Did she work in the Motown offices? Did she contribute background vocals to Motown productions? It is a shame that we know so little about what prompted Sandy's arrival at and fueled her journey through Motown.

    You've done a great research job, Dannyboy! Hats off to you! [And I love that last pic of Sandy with the red feather--so beautiful! I've seen several pix from that photo session, but can't say I've seen that one of Sandy!]

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    8,329
    Rep Power
    346
    In her book, Martha mentioned that when she hired Sandra, she had recently finished a stint temporarily replacing a member of the Orlons.

    The Orlons connection was also mentioned in the booklet for the Vandellas' ANTHOLOGY album.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Posts
    839
    Rep Power
    69
    I seem to recall someone mentioning that Duke of the Four Tops was responsible for bringing Sandra to Motown. I'm not sure of their connection beyond that.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by dannyboy1968 View Post
    UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE:

    Hello All!

    I am unsure if anyone will see this, but for the past week or so, my interest in Tilley's limited-known life story has deepened. I found myself growing increasingly curious about the life of this unsung Motown icon. My curiosity has led me to do a bit of digging into the life of Sandra Tilley. I PROMISE I AM NOT WEIRD, LOL! But, for some reason, I have just been curious about her life before and after her Motown years. And I will say, that I found more than I anticipated. From my findings, I discovered that there were a few errors made on her Wikipedia page. For instance, Tilley didn't move to Detroit to live with her aunt Shirley, she would remain in Cleveland for most of her earlier years.

    Tilley was born to Merrile Tilley and Constance Andrews on May 3rd, 1946.

    Her maternal mother, Constance Andrews, was born in West Virginia in 1925 to a native Caribbean man born in Grenada called James and an African American woman who was called Beulah who was also from West Virginia. Her father Merrile Tilley Jr. born in 1918 was a WW2 soldier from Milliedgivell, Georgia.
    Her parents were not the vaudeville dancers the Wiki page claims them to be [[at least, I couldn’t find any records of dancers in the Cleveland area who went by the name of Tilley in the 1940s) and I don’t think the affair of her parents lasted very long. Although the couple would marry in 1945, her father would pass before she was born [[sometime in January 1946), and her mother pass in a very unfortunate “collision” in 1947.

    In 1947, Tilley would be adopted by her grandparents Beulah & James and remained in their care until her early adult years. Sandra Tilley attended East High School in Cleveland and would graduate with the class of 1964. During her years at East High School, she would study violin in her music classes [[I suppose this is where her interest in music began)

    [[There are some grey areas as to what happened between the time she graduated from East High in 1964 & signed to Motown in 66’. I suppose there was some truth to her moving to Detroit with her mother’s sister Shirley Andrews).

    I think we are all familiar with the events which would occur with Tilley after she signed with Motown Records. She would be recruited by Cal of The Velvelettes in 1965, and sing with them until they disbanded in 67’. And she would soon join Martha Reeves and The Vandellas in 1968. She’d play at the Copacabana in New York and meet with stars like Judy Garland. Then tour the U.K with the group in 1970. [[There are still some grey areas in my research, as to her whereabouts following The Vandellas breaking up. I found numerous accounts which suggested that she did Indeed marry & settle somewhere in Texas, however, I am not certain. )

    My discoveries also lead me to find out that she passed away in 1983, not 1981. Although her Wiki page suggests that she passed in 81’ the sources state that she passed on the date September 9th, 1983.
    I, also, found that she does indeed still have a family ALIVE AND WELL in Cleveland Ohio. This leads me to wonder if they have any knowledge of the fact that she remains in an unmarked grave after nearly 40 years, or even the slightest knowledge of her passing in 1983. Or if Lois Reeves knew of her living family in Cleveland during her "search"?


    As to all of my fellow soulfuldetroiters... Is there still any interest in possibly getting some sort of memorial created for Tilley, or even the slightest reconsideration of having a proper headstone created for her final resting place?
    Are you, or have you ever considered being an investigative journalist? Incredible, mind-blowing work. Thank you for being so thorough... and thoughtful.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Posts
    5,496
    Rep Power
    279
    Quote Originally Posted by dannyboy1968 View Post
    UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE:

    Hello All!

    I am unsure if anyone will see this, but for the past week or so, my interest in Tilley's limited-known life story has deepened. I found myself growing increasingly curious about the life of this unsung Motown icon. My curiosity has led me to do a bit of digging into the life of Sandra Tilley. I PROMISE I AM NOT WEIRD, LOL! But, for some reason, I have just been curious about her life before and after her Motown years. And I will say, that I found more than I anticipated. From my findings, I discovered that there were a few errors made on her Wikipedia page. For instance, Tilley didn't move to Detroit to live with her aunt Shirley, she would remain in Cleveland for most of her earlier years.

    Tilley was born to Merrile Tilley and Constance Andrews on May 3rd, 1946.

    Her maternal mother, Constance Andrews, was born in West Virginia in 1925 to a native Caribbean man born in Grenada called James and an African American woman who was called Beulah who was also from West Virginia. Her father Merrile Tilley Jr. born in 1918 was a WW2 soldier from Milliedgivell, Georgia.
    Her parents were not the vaudeville dancers the Wiki page claims them to be [[at least, I couldn’t find any records of dancers in the Cleveland area who went by the name of Tilley in the 1940s) and I don’t think the affair of her parents lasted very long. Although the couple would marry in 1945, her father would pass before she was born [[sometime in January 1946), and her mother pass in a very unfortunate “collision” in 1947.

    In 1947, Tilley would be adopted by her grandparents Beulah & James and remained in their care until her early adult years. Sandra Tilley attended East High School in Cleveland and would graduate with the class of 1964. During her years at East High School, she would study violin in her music classes [[I suppose this is where her interest in music began)

    [[There are some grey areas as to what happened between the time she graduated from East High in 1964 & signed to Motown in 66’. I suppose there was some truth to her moving to Detroit with her mother’s sister Shirley Andrews).

    I think we are all familiar with the events which would occur with Tilley after she signed with Motown Records. She would be recruited by Cal of The Velvelettes in 1965, and sing with them until they disbanded in 67’. And she would soon join Martha Reeves and The Vandellas in 1968. She’d play at the Copacabana in New York and meet with stars like Judy Garland. Then tour the U.K with the group in 1970. [[There are still some grey areas in my research, as to her whereabouts following The Vandellas breaking up. I found numerous accounts which suggested that she did Indeed marry & settle somewhere in Texas, however, I am not certain. )

    My discoveries also lead me to find out that she passed away in 1983, not 1981. Although her Wiki page suggests that she passed in 81’ the sources state that she passed on the date September 9th, 1983.
    I, also, found that she does indeed still have a family ALIVE AND WELL in Cleveland Ohio. This leads me to wonder if they have any knowledge of the fact that she remains in an unmarked grave after nearly 40 years, or even the slightest knowledge of her passing in 1983. Or if Lois Reeves knew of her living family in Cleveland during her "search"?


    As to all of my fellow soulfuldetroiters... Is there still any interest in possibly getting some sort of memorial created for Tilley, or even the slightest reconsideration of having a proper headstone created for her final resting place?
    Hi, DannyBoy - Yes, I'm in as regards a headstone contribution. Best to you -

  26. #26
    Name:  Screen Shot 2022-11-15 at 3.30.25 PM.jpg
Views: 187
Size:  15.2 KB
    Here is a picture of Tilley during her junior year at East High in 1963. [[Tilley is shown in the center of the two young ladies.)

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by dannyboy1968 View Post
    to all of my fellow soulfuldetroiters... Is there still any interest in possibly getting some sort of memorial created for Tilley, or even the slightest reconsideration of having a proper headstone created for her final resting place?
    Thank you for sharing your impressive research, dannyboy.

    I would be interested in contributing to a headstone for her resting place. I had casually looked into this once before, by emailing the cemetery, to see if it would be permissible for a group of fans to arrange this, and if installing a headstone would be possible, based on the location of the plot. I never ended up receiving a response. If you're able to get the ball rolling with this, in conjunction with her family, then count me in.

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    6,718
    Rep Power
    235
    Quote Originally Posted by carlo View Post
    Thank you for sharing your impressive research, dannyboy.

    I would be interested in contributing to a headstone for her resting place. I had casually looked into this once before, by emailing the cemetery, to see if it would be permissible for a group of fans to arrange this, and if installing a headstone would be possible, based on the location of the plot. I never ended up receiving a response. If you're able to get the ball rolling with this, in conjunction with her family, then count me in.
    Me too.

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    6,228
    Rep Power
    239
    I believe Lois Reeves is starting a campaign to make this happen, hence why she's looking to reach out to Sandy's kin.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

[REMOVE ADS]

Ralph Terrana
MODERATOR

Welcome to Soulful Detroit! Kindly Consider Turning Off Your Ad BlockingX
Soulful Detroit is a free service that relies on revenue from ad display [regrettably] and donations. We notice that you are using an ad-blocking program that prevents us from earning revenue during your visit.
Ads are REMOVED for Members who donate to Soulful Detroit. [You must be logged in for ads to disappear]
DONATE HERE »
And have Ads removed.