Complete with never-before-revealed details about the sex, violence, and drugs in her life, this biography reveals the incredibly turbulent life of Motown artist Mary Wells. Based in part on four hours of previously unreleased and unpublicized deathbed interviews with Wells, this account delves deeply into her rapid rise and long fall as a recording artist, her spectacular romantic and family life, the violent incidents in which she was a participant, and her abuse of drugs. From tumultuous affairs, including one with R&B superstar Jackie Wilson, to a courageous battle with throat cancer that climaxed in her gutsiest performance, this history draws upon years of interviews with Wells’s friends, lovers, and husband to tell the whole story of a woman whose songs crossed the color line and whose voice captivated the Beatles.
Benjaminson (The Lost Supreme) delivers another excellent and fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the artists who made Motown Records a massive success in the 1960s. He sympathetically recounts the tumultuous life of singer Mary Wells, who gave the company its first #1 hit in 1964 "My Guy," which Mary Wilson of the Supremes called "the epitome of the Motown Sound." Relying heavily on four hours of interviews with Wells done by author Steve Bergsman between 1990 and 1992, as well as his own numerous interviews with friends, lovers, and business associates, Benjaminson describes how Wells became "a Motown goddess: its premiere female vocalist, a position she would hold without challenge from 1962 to 1964," when she suddenly left Motown, leaving the Supremes to become Motown's most commercially successful vocal group. He details how Wells's success "held the company together economically while the Supremes were struggling to gain traction"; he explores the facts behind her belief that her Motown contract was unfair; and he recounts in detail her recordings for a series of companies, including Atlantic Records, where she never was able to repeat her past glory. But Benjaminson shows that while Wells struggled through problems with men, money, and drugs until she died of throat cancer in 1992, she never stopped performing to adoring audiences with "My Guy" as her signature song.