Mary Wells is one of the most criminally underrated musicians ever, & it’s so disrespectful. Mary was the Queen of Motown, gave them their first few hits, & helped define Motown’s sound in their earlier days.
Mary’s most well known hit “My Guy” made her an international superstar. WHO DO YOU KNOW AT THAT TIME THAT COULD KNOCK THE BEATLES OUT OF THE TOP SPOT during their reign on the charts in ’64? She was a whole legend by 21. That’s how important she was to the Motown sound.
That was my girl Mary. She gets her flowers, because she was a force to be reckoned with, & deserved so much more!
Albums Released: Bye Bye Baby I Don’t Want To Take A Chance, The One Who Really Loves You, Two Lovers and Other Great Hits, Recorded Live on Stage, Greatest Hits, Together (w/ Marvin Gaye,) Mary Wells Sings My Guy, Mary Wells, Love Songs to the Beatles, The Two Sides Of Mary Wells, Vintage Stock, Servin’ Up Some Soul.
Mary signed to Motown at the very young age of 17, after aspiring a song she wrote to be recorded by one of her favorite singers Jackie Wilson. That song “Bye Bye Baby” gave Mary her first R&B top ten hit!
Her earlier music had a rough sound to it! It’s evident with “Bye Bye Baby” and her first LP overall! She showed off her wild range. 🙌🏾
Berry Gordy eventually paired Mary with the lead singer from The Miracles (Smokey Robinson,) who eventually became one of Motown’s popular songwriters. The Wells/Robinson team lead to Mary having a successful string of hits for the next few years at Motown. From “The One Who Really Loves You” to “I Want You ‘around,” Mary Wells was easily Motown’s first hitmaker and superstar.
However, it was the 1964 hit “My Guy” that made Mary a household name. The song not only is her only number one pop hit and signature song, she beat the Beatles with this record…making her an international star!
Her duet album with Marvin Gaye was successful as well!
At the height of her career, she left Motown after issues with her original contact, & finding out money she made from “My Guy” was being used to promote “The Supremes.” She signed a deal with 20th Century Fox Records, Atco & Jubilee not too long after.
Her career never was successful again like her days at Motown, but the tunes didn’t end.
Albums Released: N/A
Mary recorded singles periodically throughout the 70s, but gave up being a performer altogether to raise her 3 oldest children with her husband singer & producer Cecil Womack (brother of Bobby Womack, & future husband of Sam Cooke’s daughter Linda).
Mary divorced Cecil in 1977, & started to perform again. She was offered a contract with Epic records thanks to Larkin Arnold, who was CBS urban president at the time. Her first album with Epic was released in 1981.
Albums Released: In and Out of Love, Easy Touch, The Old, The New, & The Best of Mary Wells.
Her album “In and Out of Love” produced a hit single with “Gigolo,” which was her first one in over a decade.
Mary gained success as a touring performer during the 80s, often taking her youngest daughter Sugar Wells Womack with her.
Albums Released: Keeping My Mind On Love.
Mary’s album “Keeping My Mind On Love” was her final album. She gave it her all!
Mary was diagnosed with throat cancer, which took away her lovely voice. She would pass away from the illness in the summer of 1992.
Mary Wells Womack was truly one of a kind. A class act. A wonderful mother and performer. She will never be forgotten or her music catalog. She IS BLACK HISTORY. She IS MOTOWN.
Without the assistance of Mary Wells’ early recordings with motown, the change of black music being pushed onto radio stations and record stores of popular music in America wouldn’t be. Rest peacefully legend. -MJ
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