While Motown certainly had already signed its first female artist solo singer which was Mable John, who was the sister of "Little Willie John" who had a hit record with "Fever" it was no big deal until the second female who was signed to Motown came along and approached Berry Gordy as a song writer, that 17 year old girl was none other than Mary Wells. She came up to Berry Gordy at a sock hop, she said she had a song for Jackie Wilson.
As Mr. Gordy was in a hurry while scouting talent, Mary wanted to hand him the lyrics to the song, Berry said I don't want to read it, I want to hear it. Just sing it said Berry, Mary replies, I am not a singer, sing it anyway and I want you to sing it right here now. Two minutes later Berry Gordy knew he had something only not for Jackie Wilson but for Mary Wells. Although Mary's early recordings were not big hits, the songs did help to build her local reputation, it really showed her potential.
It was only when Smokey Robinson started working with Mary that things took off. While Mary's signature song "My Guy" did break the Beatles first place hold on the charts, she wound up actually touring with them. She was the first of Gordy's stars to play Great Britain. After 4 years with Motown, Mary had gone from minor to major from 17 to 21. She also had become the company's biggest star. At the height of her popularity, after the overseas tours and number one hits, after scores of national television shows, came the biggest surprise of all.
She was leaving Motown after her boyfriend found Mary another deal. Gordy could not compete with bigger money offers so Mary left. What seemed to please Mary the most was a half a million in advance from 20th Century Fox records with talk about making her a movie star.
It never happened, find out more on Mary Wells as she will be featured as the artist of the month on KWMC's the Mighty 1490's "Little Red Rooster" show on Sept 4, 2015.