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She later changed it to "Tammy" after seeing the film, Tammy and the Bachelor, and hearing its theme song, "Tammy", at the age of 12.Starting around this time, Terrell started to have migraine headaches.Terrell's career was interrupted when she collapsed into Gaye's arms as the two performed at a concert at Hampden–Sydney College on October 14, 1967, with Terrell later being diagnosed with a brain tumor.She had eight unsuccessful surgeries before succumbing to the illness on March 16, 1970 at the age of 24.After a period attending college, Terrell recorded briefly for Checker Records, before signing with Motown in 1965.With Gaye, Terrell scored seven Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "You're All I Need to Get By".However, Tammi was devastated once she discovered that he had a wife, three children and another girlfriend in Detroit. Tammi ended their relationship in 1967 after he hit her in the head with his motorcycle helmet.
During recording sessions, Gaye would recall later that he did not know how gifted Terrell was until they began singing together. For sessions of their first recording, the Ashford & Simpson composition, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", both Gaye and Terrell recorded separate versions. At the end of the year, the duo scored another top ten single with "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You", which peaked at No. Throughout that year, Gaye and Terrell began performing together and Terrell became a vocal and performance inspiration for the shy and laid-back Gaye, who hated live performing.Motown remixed the vocals and edited out the background vocals, giving just Gaye and Terrell vocal dominance. Their follow-up, "Your Precious Love", became an even bigger hit, reaching No. The duo also performed together on television shows to their hits.The song became a crossover pop hit in the spring of 1967, reaching No. While Terrell was finally being established as a star, the migraines and headaches she had suffered from childhood were becoming more constant.Motown issued Terrell's first and only solo album, Irresistible, in early 1969. There was no new repertoire on the album: all tracks had been recorded earlier and had subsequently been shelved for some time.Both Marvin Gaye and Valerie Simpson gave different stories on how the production of Terrell's and Gaye's third album together, Easy, went about.In 1966, Terrell recorded two future classics, Stevie Wonder's "All I Do (Is Think About You)" and The Isley Brothers' "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)".Terrell joined the Motortown Revue after the release of her first single.Easy produced the singles "Good Lovin' Ain't Easy to Come By", "What You Gave Me", "California Soul" and the UK top ten hit, "The Onion Song".Late in 1969, Terrell made her final public appearance at the Apollo Theater where Marvin Gaye was performing. By early 1970, Terrell was confined to a wheelchair, suffered from blindness and hair loss, and weighed a scant 93 pounds (42 kg).In 1960, Terrell signed under the Wand subsidiary of Scepter Records after being discovered by Luther Dixon, recording the ballad, "If You See Bill", under the name Tammy Montgomery and doing demos for The Shirelles.After another single, Terrell left the label and, after being introduced to James Brown, signed a contract with him and began singing backup for his Revue concert tours. Released on Brown's Try Me Records, it became her first charting single, reaching No. During this time, Tammi became sexually involved in an abusive relationship with James Brown.