MICHIGAN CHRONICLE REVIEWER WRITES THAT MARY WELLS: THE
TUMULTUOUS LIFE OF MOTOWN'S FIRST SUPERSTAR "IS ONE OF THE
MOST INTRIGUING AND METICULOUSLY RESEARCHED BOOKS I HAVE
A new book that I highly recommend is "Mary Wells," subtitled "The
Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar," by Peter Benjaminson. This is
one of the most intriguing and meticulously researched books I have ever
Mary Wells, of whom yours truly was a huge fan, landed on the national
charts in 1960 with a song she wrote titled "Bye Bye Baby." It went Top 10 as
did the follow-up, "I Don't Want to Take a Chance."
But then her career shifted into high gear when Smokey Robinson began
writing and producing her records.
The hits from 1962 to 1964 were non-stop, including "The One Who Really
Loves You," "You Beat Me to the Punch," "Two Lovers," "Laughing Boy,"
"Your Old Stand By," "What's Easy For Two Is So Hard For One," and the
classic "My Guy." Plus there was a two-sided hit duet with Marvin Gaye,
"Once Upon a Time"/"What's the Matter With You Baby?"
She was the undisputed queen of Motown and a giant in the industry, but
then, guided by youth and her husband-manager, she left Motown and after
that, success on the charts was limited and sporadic. You might remember
"Use Your Head," "Dear Lover," "The Doctor," and "Gigolo."
There were a lot of issues in Wells' personal life, including romantic
entanglements, violence, drugs, bad marriages and alcohol, not to mention
smoking two packs of cigarettes a day that led to the throat cancer that
ultimately took her life in 1992.
But she was not a quitter.
"Mary had her faults," writes Benjaminson, "but she came through
magnificently when she was down on her luck and even after her luck had
completely run out."
Problems aside, Mary Wells has a well-deserved place in music history, and
this pull-no-punches book does her justice.