Slacker Logo

Mary Wells

ON AIR
Advertisement
Advertisement

Bio

Time and legions of other soul superstars have obscured the fact that for a brief moment, Mary Wells was Motown's biggest star. She came to the attention of Berry Gordy as a 17-year-old, hawking a song she'd written for Jackie Wilson; that song, "Bye Bye Baby," became her first Motown hit in 1961. The full-throated approach of that single was quickly toned down in favor of a pop-soul sound. Few other soul singers managed to be as shy and sexy at the same time as Wells (Barbara Lewis is the only other that springs to mind), and the soft-voiced singer found a perfect match with the emerging Motown production team, especially Smokey Robinson. Robinson wrote and produced her biggest Motown hits; "Two Lovers," "You Beat Me to the Punch," and "The One Who Really Loves You" all made the Top Ten in the early '60s, and "My Guy" hit the number one spot in mid-1964, at the very height of Beatlemania. Mary turned 21 years old as "My Guy" was rising to the top of the charts, and left Motown almost immediately afterward for a reported advance of several hundred thousand dollars from 20th Century Fox. The circumstances remain cloudy years later, but Wells and her husband-manager felt Motown wasn't coming through with enough money for their new superstar; she was also lured by the prospect of movie roles through 20th Century Fox (which never materialized). It's been rumored that Wells was being groomed for the sort of plans that were subsequently lavished upon Diana Ross; more nefariously, it's also been rumored that Motown quietly discouraged radio stations from playing Wells' subsequent releases. What is certain is that Wells never remotely approached the success of her Motown years, entering the pop Top 40 only once (although she had some R&B hits). Motown, for their part, took care throughout the rest of the '60s not to lose their big stars to larger labels. Wells' departure from Motown was so dramatic and unsuccessful that it has tended to overshadow the quality of her later work, which has almost always been dismissed as trivial by critics. True, it didn't match the quality of her Motown recordings -- Smokey Robinson could not be replaced. But her '60s singles for 20th Century Fox (whom she ended up leaving after only a year), Atco, and Jubilee were solid pop-soul on which her vocal talents remained undiminished. She wrote and produced a lot of her late-'60s and early-'70s sessions with her second husband, guitarist Cecil Womack (brother of Bobby), and these found her exploring a somewhat earthier groove than her more widely known pop efforts. She had trouble landing recording deals in the '70s and '80s, and succumbed to throat cancer in 1992. ~ Richie Unterberger
Read All Read Less

Albums by
Mary Wells

false

    12 songs

    On Air

    New Versions

    18 songs

    On Air

    The One Who Really Loves You & More Mary Wells Classics

    10 songs

    On Air

    Strange Love

    10 songs

    On Air

    The Queen of Motown

    10 songs

    On Air

    The One Who Really Loves You

    14 songs

    On Air

    My Guy - The Best of Mary Wells (Rerecorded Version)

    10 songs

    On Air

    Well, Well, It's Mary (Rerecorded Version) - [The Dave Cash Collection]

    11 songs

    On Air

    In and Out of Love

    10 songs

    On Air

    American Legend

    12 songs

    On Air

    The Two Sides Of...

    10 songs

    On Air

    Two Lovers

    8 songs

    On Air

    Recorded Live On Stage

    10 songs

    On Air

    Bye Bye Baby/I Don't Want to Take a Chance

    12 songs

    On Air

    Mary Wells Sings My Guy

    12 songs

    On Air

    Servin' Up Some Soul

    12 songs

    On Air

    Legends

    2 songs

    On Air

    Bye Bye Baby

    2 songs

    On Air

    My Guy Hit Pac

    47 songs

    On Air

    Something New: Motown Lost & Found

    18 songs

    On Air

    The Definitive Collection

    10 songs

    On Air

    Mary Wells: The Hits

    11 songs

    On Air

    20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Mary Wells

    10 songs

    On Air

    My Guy

    10 songs

    On Air

    The Very Best of the Motorcity Recordings

See All Albums

Top Songs by
Mary Wells

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   My Guy
  3.   You Beat Me to the Punch
  4.   Two Lovers
  5.   The One Who Really Loves You
  6.   What's Easy for Two Is So Hard for One
  7.   You Lost the Sweetest Boy
  8.   What Love Has Joined Together
  9.   Your Old Stand By
  10.   Laughing Boy
  11.   Bye Bye Baby
  12.   I'm Gonna Stay
  13.   Silent Night
  14.   Jingle Bell Rock
  15.   Stag-O-Lee
  16.   When I'm Gone
  17.   Teach Me Tonight
  18.   Old Love (Let's Try It Again)
  19.   Looking Back
  20.   I Found What I Wanted
  21.   Make Up, Break Up
  22.   Depend on Me, (You Can)
  23.   If You Can't Give Her Love (Give Her Up)
  24.   Oh Lover
  25.   He Loves You
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Mary Wells

    On Air

    Legends Of Motown

    On Air

    Cocktail Madness

    On Air

    55 Best Motown Songs

    On Air

    Oldies

    On Air

    Chicano Old School

    On Air

    A Very Soulful Christmas

    On Air

    Vintage Love Songs

    On Air

    Madonna: DNA

    On Air

    '60s Hits

    On Air

    Dive Bar Jukebox

    On Air

    Nothing But Love Songs

    On Air

    '60s Deep Dive


Artists Related to
Mary Wells

On Air

Martha & the Vandellas

On Air

The Supremes

On Air

Tammi Terrell