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mary wells

Mary Wells

b. Mary Esther Wells, 13th May 1943, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

d. 28th July 1992, Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Mary Wells, at one stage, was Tamla Motown's biggest Soul Singer.

As a child, she had suffered from spinal meningitis, an illness that paralyzed her for a while, which led to partial blindness and a slight loss of hearing.

Mary Wells

At the age of 10, Mary began singing in local clubs and talent contests.

When she was 17 years of age, she wrote the song 'Bye Bye Baby', which was originally intended to be given to Jackie Wilson.

Mary ended up recording the song herself and it became her first Motown single in 1961.

Berry Gordy had, by then, taken her under his Motown umbrella and the song hit the top 50.

Mary was then paired with Smokey Robinson in a singing and songwriting partnership, which was to be very fruitful in the following years.

In 1962, 'The One Who Really Loves You' made the Top 10 in 1962, followed by 'You Beat Me To The Punch' and 'Two Lovers', songs that were equally as successful.

Mary WellsMy Guy

'What's Easy For Two Is So Hard For One' also charted in 1964, however, her greatest success came, at the age of 21, with the Smokey penned tune 'My Guy', which was an enormous hit on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching the top spot in the U.S. and the number 5 position in the U.K.

Mary was then teamed with the late Marvin Gaye, recording an album of duets, with the song 'Once Upon A Time', released as a single.

During this period, Mary had become friends with the Beatles and she, subsequently, toured with the group, recording an album entitled 'Love Songs To The Beatles' in 1965.

She then left Motown moving to 20th Century Fox, who had offered her some movie work to go alongside her recording chores.

Motown had to let her leave, as her original contract was signed at a time when she was underage.

Mary WellsMary Wells

20th Century had, allegedly, offered her several hundred thousand dollars to move to the label.

After 1 year, however, she had left the label, following one single success with the song 'Use Your Head' in 1966.

She married Cecil Womack (later of Womack and Womack and brother of Bobby Womack) in 1966 and the pair wrote and produced much of Mary's 60's and 70's output.

Cecil used to be part of the group, the Valentino's.

He and Mary had three children, however, the marriage was to end in divorce.

Mary relocated to the Atco imprint at the time (moving on to the Jubilee, Reprise, Epic and Movietone labels at a later date) and had some minor hits with 'Dear Lover', 'Such A Sweet Thing' and 'The Doctor'.

She did record for several other U.S. labels, however, without any great success and by the 1980's, Mary was re-recording a lot of her older material.

Mary was then, tragically, diagnosed with larynx cancer, however, she continued touring during the late 80's and appeared at several cancer fund raising events.

She signed to lan Levine's Motor City label in 1987 and released 'Keeping My Mind On Love' in 1990.

Following a fight with pneumonia, Mary became hospitalized and spent her last days at the Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital.

Mary Wells lost her battle against her illness on 28th July 1992 in California. She was 49.

Mary WellsMary Wells

Real Player


Bye Bye Baby, I Don't Want To Take A Chance (Motown 1961)

The One Who Really Loves You (Motown 1962)

Two Lovers And Other Great Hits (Motown 1963)

Recorded Live On Stage (Motown 1963)

Second Time Around (Motown 1963)

with Marvin Gaye: Together (Motown 1964)

Mary Wells Sings My Guy (Motown 1964)

Mary Wells (20th Century 1965)

Mary Wells Sings Love Songs To The Beatles (20th Century 1965)

Vintage Stock (Motown 1966)

The Two Sides Of Mary Wells (Atco 1966)

Ooh! (Movietone 1966)

Servin' Up Some Soul (Jubilee 1968)

In And Out Of Love (1981)

Keeping My Mind On Love (Motor City 1990)

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