tammi terrell

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On this day in music history: April 20, 1967 - “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye  & Tammi Terrell is released. Written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, it is the first single release for the Motown vocal duo. Newly signed as a solo artist to Motown in 1965, Tammi Terrell is paired with staff producers Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua, who begin working with the young singer. Releasing a handful of non charting singles, nearly a year goes by without scoring a hit. In late 1966, fresh off of their success penning Ray Charles’ number R&B smash “Let’s Go Get Stoned”, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson are hired as staff songwriters at Motown. Among the songs the pair have already written is one titled “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. Having moved from his native North Carolina to New York City in the mid 60’s, the initial inspiration for the song comes from Ashford. Determined to make it in the big city, the lyrics are composed by him as personal affirmation to not give up no matter what. He and Valerie write the song, but hold on it, knowing that it is a potential hit and their ticket into Motown. Bristol and Fuqua love the song immediately and move to cut it on Tammi. The basic track is recorded at Motown Studio A on December 26, 1966 with The Funk Brothers providing musical support. Terrell records her vocals alone on January 6, 1967, with additional overdubs recorded on January 11 and 29, 1967. At one point, the producers decide the song needs something extra, a duet partner. Marvin Gaye is chosen to add his magic vocal touch and does so in short order on February 1, 1967. Finally released in April of 1967, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” takes off quickly, peaking at #3 for three weeks beginning on the Billboard R&B singles chart on July 1, 1967 and #19 on the Hot 100 on July 15, 1967. An instant classic, the record establishes Gaye and Terrell as Motown’s premier vocal duo and Ashford & Simpson as one of the top writing teams on the labels’ already prodigious roster. In time, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” becomes one of Motown’s most popular and frequently covered songs. Diana Ross will score her first solo chart topper in 1970 with a dramatically revamped version of the song produced by Ashford & Simpson. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s original recording of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is used in numerous films, television commercials, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.