Motown's First Female Star

We will never forget the smooth, relaxing voice of Mary Wells.

We will never forget the smooth, soulful, relaxing voice of Sweet Mary Wells. She was Motown's first famous female Singer, and she earn Motown's first number one hit with "My Guy". Mary Wells was the glamour girl of the 60s. She wore long, glamorous gowns and stylish trendy wigs- from black bouffants to blond wigs and ponytail. Motown got the big female star they always wanted. Mary Wells wasn't always the glamours queen. She started off as a shy girl, when Berry Gordy ask her to sing the song she wrote "Bye Bye Baby" with knees tremblins and sweaty palms she song the song perfectly and he sign her on the spot. Let me tell you a little bit about Mary's background. She was born Mary Esther Wells on May 13, 1943. At a young age Mary Wells was doing day work, scrubbing floors with her mother by her side. "Until Motown, there were three big careers for a black girl," Mary said, looking back at her beginnings. "Babies he factories and day work. "Mary was as naive as the rest of us," Aretha Franklin said in Detroit, landscape of the fifties childhood they shared. "We were about the same age and began our careers at about the same time. We knew we wanted success, and that's about all we knew.... Record labels, contracts, royalities...they didn't have no clue or thought about. "Mary was a typical Detroit teenager" said "Claudette Robinson", original member of the Miracles. "She had her loafers, her white bobby sox, her pleated skirt and her pink sweaater. She had a whispering speaking voice and unusual sensitivity. She also had values. She'd grown up poor but hard-working. Mary was singing gospel in church by at the age of 4. She had ambitions of being a performer while she had her brothers were raised by her mother. Mary later discovered that her father had connections with the Mafia, a fact she disvocered after he died which devastated her in later life.But Mary's mother had taught her independence. Looking to avoid jobs, that black girls had in that day, Mary caught up with Berry Gordy at a sox hop. A new decade-the sixties-had just begun, and so had a new label called "Motown" which at that time every Detroiter wanted to get a contract there, and be as big as Jackie Wilson. Everyone wanted to go to Motown after they saw how big Jackie Wilson made it, but Mary didn't care she wanted a record. Mary's first idea was to sell Berry Gordy a song for Jackie Wilson. So, at 17, Mary Wells saw Berry at a show the Miracles were doing, and she went up to Berry when he was in a rush and he didn't have no time and wasn't really interested. She ran after him until she got his attention and until he finally said sing the song,she hestitated and then she went and sung half the song sweating and trembling, "You know you took my heart and you broke it apart. Why did love baby to have ever start? YOu know you took my love, threw it away. You're gonna want my love someday Well, bye, bye, baby." and of course Berry loved her raspy voice,soulful voice. Berry told her to meet her at Motown the next day. Originally the song was written for Jackie to sing but Berry told her he wanted her to sing it. She was thrilled. But then such is the wonder of youth, the ability of a 17-year-old Detroit high school student to infuse her lyrics with all the pain they deserve, simply because the wounds are fresh, the feelings real. Real even after 22 takes in the recording studio, which might account for the hoarse texture of young Mary's voice. Two years before the commencement of her own personal hit parade, "Bye Bye Baby" features a little-known side of Wells- a rough, assertive stylist who hadn't yet mastered the "Cotton-Candy Tones that would make her a household name from Motown to Everytown". She became the first artist to have a release on the official Motown label, and scored American hits with "Two Lover", "Your Old Standby", "You Beat me to the Punch", "The One Who Really Loves You", "What's Easy for Two is So Hard For One", (Some of these songs were backed by the Temptations, they did the background for a couple of songs) and her one classic internationl hit "My Guy". She's best known for that song. No one can ever sing like her. I don't think it would of been a hit if they would of recorded it on someone else. During this time she was know as "Little Miss Hitmaker", and was the first Motown artist to wear elegant gowns on stage. She also toured with The Beatles, and in 1964 recorded a duet album "Together" with Marvin Gaye from which "Once Upon a Time" was a UK Top 50 hit single. Mary had spunk and she had talent, which made her even more bigger then life. Mens loved Mary Wells, she was kind of a sex symbol in her own way, she was real pretty with smooth brown skin and a nice figure, and the sweetest voice, as Wilson Pickett said "Man, did she have a walk". It was reported that Mary has had relationship with guys such as David Ruffin, Otis Williams, Jackie Wilson, and some of Bobby Womack's brothers.At the height of her meteoric career Mary left Motown, claiming that her contract was too confining. Years later she confessed that she was surprised the other companies were not run with the same family atmosphere. Under direction of her husband she left Motown later in the year to record for the 20th Century, Warner Brothers, Jubliee and Reprise Labels, although hits eluded her. She divorced Herman Griffin, after Mary's marriage to Herman Griffin failed, she married Cecil Womack of the Womack Brothers. Their work together on Jubilee resulted in two albums. In 1970, Mary signed with her fourth label, "Reprise". She was only 27. Nothing clicked. Years passed,. She divorced Cecil and moved in with his brother Curtis Womack. "Epic gave her a deal in the late secenties. No major hits. In the eighties, she worked the oldies circuit, but with pride. "The term," she told writer Gerri Hirshey, "is oldie but GOODIE." "She was gutsy and full of strong spirit," said "Ruth Brown", herself a survivor of the R&B wars. and married Cecil Womack. Mary's went throught a lot pain and heartache in her life, but especially in her later years. She went through bad marriages to man who abused her and misused her, but it took someone as strong as her to keep strong and always be independent as her mother taught her and which she would pass on to her kids. Mary Wells was always known as the sweet woman, always respectful, friendly and loyal, sometimes she was just to friendly and let people do things to her that wasn't right. Mary left behind some kids, which until this day they're being taken care of and they're well. She never knew how appreciated she was by people and by her fans, many believe she was the "First Woman of Motown" and the "First Lady of Soul". In 1983 Wayne Henderson produced a remake of "My Guy", while Ian Levine produced yet another version for Mary in 1990. In the meantime she divorced Cecil Womack and married his brother Curtis Womack, both brothers former member of The Valentinos there most recognize song is " She's So Good To Me", which Sam Cooke helped produce. In 1987 she began working with writer/producer Ian Levine and released a single "Don't Burn Your Bridges on his Nightmare Label. Switching to Motorcity, an album Keeping My Mind on Love was released in 1990, the year it was announced on August of 1990 that she had throat cancer due to years and years of smoking, she fell on hard times. The R&B Foundation raised money and former colleagues from Motown along with admirers like Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen helped pay her medical bills, and just around the time she was about to tour,she got too sick to do so, she died on July 26, 1992. Mary Wells has been a big inspiration to a lot of the r&b singers of todays' music. Mary's voice and style will never be forgotten. She's buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California. This music will not age. Mary Wells will never die. Because "My Guy" will always be the best song of our times and a National Anthem.

Around the time Mary Wells was very sick. All her old "Motown Family" came along and helped her out, gave her donations and whatever else she needed. She really meant something to them and to the Music World. Could you picture a world without "My Guy" and "Mary Wells". I couldn't