Marvin Gaye was on fire in 1968. The Motown star had been having hits for six years, and had topped the US R&B charts twice already, both times in 1965. But in the year that he turned 29, there was no stopping him. He had three Billboard Soul No. 1s in the space of six months in 1968, two of them with one of his great duet partners, Tammi Terrell, who would tragically die of a brain tumour at the age of just 24. Now, we remember when Marvin & Tammi made beautiful music and topped the R&B bestsellers with ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’, the lead single from his second duets album with Tammi Terrell, You’re All I Need.
Gaye’s brace of 1965 chart-toppers, ‘I’ll Be Doggone’ and ‘Ain’t That Peculiar,’ were prime examples of his ebullient early recording style, but by 1968 he was creating smoother, more sophisticated soul that would pave the way for his defining work of the early 70s.
In June of that year, his inspired teaming with Philadelphia-born singer Terrell, which had produced the previous year’s soul and pop hit ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,’ took them to No.1 R&B, and No.8 pop, with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson’s ‘Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing’.
Within just 12 weeks, the exact same formula of performers and writers rang the bell again. On the R&B chart for the week of 31 August 1968, Gaye & Terrell’s new Ashford & Simpson creation ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’ started a five-week run at No.1, also hitting No.7 on the pop chart. Of his many and varied duets throughout his career, this was the most successful. Another ten weeks on, before Christmas 1968, Gaye would be at the chart summit again with ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine.’
The You’re All I Need album was released a month after the single. Ashford & Simpson sing backing vocals on ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’, which has inspired countless cover recordings, from Aretha Franklin’s version to collaborations between Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams, and Elton John & Marcella Detroit.
You’re All I Need can be bought here.