"You're All I Need To Get By" is the title track of the duet album "You're All I Need (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)".

The Story

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell met in 1967 after Marvin's former duet partner Kim Weston left his record label. The label matched him up with the 22-year-old Terrell. Of her, Marvin said:

"I had no idea Tammi was as good a singer as she, of course, turned out to be...But some people who were on their toes dug her sound and perhaps realized that we may possibly make a good duet. And, wanting to try something new all of my life, it was a challenge and something groovy to do...Tammi was nice, she was pretty, and she was soft and warm and sweet--and misunderstood. I enjoyed working with her and that, coupled with a new team, Ashford & Simpson, made it so marvelous."
They weren't lovers in real life (this song, and others, were penned by the aforementioned husband and wife duo of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson); however, they were as close as people who are just friends can be. A tragic blow to this friendship struck on Saturday, October 14, 1967. Tammi was singing with Marvin at Hampden-Sydney College's Homecoming in central Virginia when she collapsed in the bleachers (the concert took place in a gymnasium with no stage) during the final notes of "Your Precious Love". Soon thereafter Tammi was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. The tumor was allegedly induced by physically abusive bosses and boyfriends, which were rumored to include James Brown and The Temptations’ former lead singer David Ruffin. Ruffin was supposedly jealous of her extremely strong, but platonic, relationship with Marvin.

Who sang with Marvin Gaye?

After collapsing on stage in 1967, Tammi became very ill and her time in the studio was very limited, leaving a lot of recordings unfinished.
On some of these recordings, Tammi's voice was substituted by Valerie Simpson. It's never been very clear as to exactly which recordings Valerie substituted for Tammi, but general opinion is that the following recordings were sung by Valerie: No one really knows for sure whether it was Valerie Simpson or Tammi Terrell who sang this song on the album - the album was supposedly recorded a few weeks before she collapsed on stage, yet I have seen the contradictory and controversial information above at several sources, and thus decided to list it. Regarding the anonymous substitution of Simpson's voice for Terrell's, Marvin had this to say:
"At first I refused to go along with the plan. I saw it as another money-making scheme on B.G.’s part. I said it was cynical and wrong. I didn’t want to deceive the public like that. Then Motown convinced me that it’d be a way for Tammi’s family to have additional income. (Valerie) amazed me with how faithfully she captured Tammi. I felt strange...I suppose I felt guilty."

In the next two years, Tammi and Marvin released two more duet albums to add to their first, United (You're All I Need and Easy). Half the tracks on You're All I Need were real duets, but the rest were solos by Tammi to which Marvin's vocals were added. Two songs from the third album, Easy, were overdubs; songwriter-producer Valerie Simpson substituted for Tammi on the rest. Even a few United songs were overdubs - it reduced studio expenses for Motown. Eight brain surgeries failed to save her; the cancer continued to worsen until it ended her life on March 16, 1970. Marvin was so crushed by Tammi's illness and death that he couldn't work in the studio from late 1969 until 1971, and didn't return to the stage until 1972.

Written by: Nickolas Ashford/Valerie Simpson
Performed by: Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell
Track name: You're All I Need To Get By
Album: You're All I Need (Tamla Records, August 1968)
Length: 2 minutes 49 seconds

Lyrics removed due to copyright restrictions.



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