Library Journal Calls "Mary Wells: The
Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar" a
"Fascinating Narrative of the Life of a Popular
Benjaminson follows his definitive biography of Supremes
vocalist Florence Ballard (The Lost Supreme: The Life of
Dreamgirl Florence Ballard) with the first biography devoted
solely to the tumultuous life of Motown hitmaker Mary Wells.
“My Guy” remains Wells’s signature tune, but she was much
more than a one-hit wonder (Benjaminson provides an
extensive discography) and readers will be fascinated by the
trajectory of Wells’s career; her personal and professional
choices; and ultimately, her tenacity.
Wells was signed to Motown at the age of 17 after cornering
label chief Berry Gordy at a Detroit nightclub. Success
followed and she hit the top of the national charts. Later in life
she regretted her decision to leave Motown at the age of 21,
never achieving the same level of success, but her story did
not end there.
Near the end of her life, Wells lost her ability to sing due to
the ravages of throat cancer; but through extensive research
and interviews Benjaminson once again gives her voice.
VERDICT: “My Guy” remains a popular classic (Wells cited
Mae West as her inspiration for the songs outro) and this
book tells the rest of the story. A fascinating narrative of the
life of a popular music icon.— Bill Baars, Lake Oswego P.L.,