Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (1)  | Trivia (7)

Overview (4)

Born in Detroit, Michigan, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (throat cancer)
Birth NameMary Esther Wells
Nickname The Queen of Motown

Mini Bio (1)

Detroit-born (in 1943) Mary Wells was one of the first stars of the soon-to-be-legendary Motown Records, and while she became one of the label's superstars, she had very, very difficult early years that many other people would not have been able to overcome. As a child she contracted spinal meningitis, resulting in temporary paralysis, hearing loss and partial blindness in one eye. When she regained her health she had to learn how to walk all over again. Fortunately, however, she did regain her hearing and eyesight.

At ten years of age she began singing in Detroit-area clubs and talent contests. When she was 17 she wrote a song she wanted to give to Jackie Wilson, a favorite singer of hers. Motown head Berry Gordy was holding open auditions at his studio and Mary showed up with the song, "Bye Bye Baby", and performed it for him. Gordy not only bought the song but signed her to a recording contract, and instead of giving the song to Jackie Wilson, it became Mary's first single, in 1961. It landed in the top 50 on the R&B charts.

Gordy set her up with legendary songwriter/producer Smokey Robinson and together they came out with a stream of big hits: "The One Who Really Loves You" (#8), "You Beat Me to the Punch" (#9) and "Two Lovers" #7). Mary embarked on a series of very successful US and European tours. In 1964 she came out with her most famous--and successful--song: "My Guy", which reached #1 on the US pop charts. She became the first Motown artist to have a #1 song on that label, and in fact she was the first Motown artist to have a #1 song on any of the Motown family of labels (Motown, Gordy, Tamla). She sang a duet with Marvin Gaye, "Once Upon a Time", which charted at #17. Mary was at the top of her career by this time. The Beatles said that she was their favorite American singer and invited her on their tour of England. She went, and upon her return she cut an album called "Love Songs to the Beatles".

In 1964 Mary was approached by 20th Century-Fox Records and offered a contract of several hundred thousand dollars to leave Motown and sign with them. She took them up on their offer and left Motown, but she didn't have the same degree of success that she had with Motown. She left Fox after a year, and wound up recording for such labels as Atlantic, Atco, Jubilee and Reprise. Her personal life was almost as turbulent as her professional one. She divorced her first husband and married Cecil D. Womack, the brother of singer Bobby Womack, but that marriage ended in divorce also. In the 1970s and '80s she toured the US on the oldies circuit and developed a very loyal following.

In 1990 she was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx, which left her unable to sing. Since she had no health insurance, she was financially ruined by the cost of treatment for her condition. Many of her colleagues in the music industry, including such stars as Martha Reeves, Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen, provided financial assistance. The experience affected her deeply, and she traveled to Washington, DC, to testify before Congress on the need for funding for cancer research.

In 1992 Mary caught pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital, where she died on July 28. She was interred in a cemetery in Glendale, California. She was 48 years old.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

Family (1)

Spouse Cecil D. Womack (20 August 1966 - 24 March 1978)  (divorced)  (3 children)
Herman Griffin (23 June 1961 - 23 May 1963)  (divorced)
Curtis Womack (? - 26 July 1992)  (her death)  (1 child)

Trivia (7)

Her big hit was "My Guy"
Issued an album in 1983 for Allegiance Records called "I'm a Lady: The Old, New & Best of Mary Wells" which had her recording many of her previous Motown hits, plus new 80s wave music. The album flopped. It was recently issued on CD as "Dance With Me".
Her last charted song was a disco/r&b mix "Gigolo" for Epic Records. The song was made for the 1981 album "In And Out of Love". It was later released as a single in '82. The song peaked at #69 R&B, and #2 Disco.
One of few singers who maintained a long-running high status in the music charts, having many hits; spanning from 1960 to 1982. Her first string of hits were at her home of Motown, starting with her own self-penned song "Bye Bye Baby", followed by "I Don't Want To Take a Chance", "The One Who Really Loves You", "Your Old Standby", "What's Easy For Two Is So Hard For One", & her #1 hit (in all categories [R&B/Pop]) "My Guy". Upon leaving Motown, she had a few hits at 20th Century-Fox "Never, Never Leave Me", "He's a Lover", "Use Your Head", "Stop Takin' Me For Granted" & "Ain't It The Truth". Then, Mary signed to Jubilee, and had hits with "The Doctor", & "Dig The Way I Feel". Her last hit was when she signed to Epic in 1981, and scored with the disco smash "Gigolo", peeking at #69 R&B, and #2 Disco.
Throughout her career at Motown (1960-1964), Mary's career was forever promising, but like any other artist, much of her work was vaulted and never issued. Recently all of her 12 previously unissued recordings have surfaced. She is the only Motown artist who has had ever had all recordings issued.
Had a total of 4 children. Cecil, Jr., Harry, & Stacy (from her marriage to Cecil D. Womack[Sr.])...and Sugar (with Curtis Womack).
Ex-sister-in-law of Bobby Womack and Curtis Womack.

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