Founder of the world famous "Motown Sound," Mary Wells is considered not only one of the best female singers in the music industry, but also a vital part of the success of the prestigious label. Wells' early years were not easy. As a small child, she suffered a bout of spinal meningitis, which left her temporarily paralyzed, with loss of hearing and partial blindness in one eye.

When she returned to good health, Wells suffered the hardship of learning to walk again. She was always grateful, however, to regain her hearing and sight. As a talented teenager, Wells auditioned for Berry Gordy's Tamla Records as a songwriter, but instead received a contract to be a performer. "Bye Bye Baby," a song written by Wells, was recorded in Gordy's new label, Motown Records. In 1961, the song became a hit. Wells stayed with Motown for five years.

During those years, and with the help of producer and songwriter Smokey Robinson, Wells made several recordings. Her intimate and assertive voice, mixed with a soulful urgency, gave Wells a distinctive sound. Three major singles, "The One Who Really Loves You" (no. 8, 1962), "You Beat Me to the Punch" (no. 9, 1962) and "Two Lovers" (no. 7, 1962), as well as her tours of the U.S. and Europe, turned her into one of the most popular singers in the Motown label.

In 1964, Wells' career reached a significant peak when her song, "My Guy," made it to No. 1 on the pop chart and became one of the year's best recordings. She also sang duets with Marvin Gaye, includng "Once Upon a Time," which reached No. 17 in 1964. The Beatles declared Mary Wells their favorite American singer, calling her "their sweetheart," and invited her to England to tour with them. Upon her return to the states, the Beatles sent Wells several compositions to be released on their next album. In return, Mary recorded an album called "Love Songs to The Beatles."

In 1990, Wells was diagnosed with larynx cancer, hindering her ability to sing. Despite her health condition, Wells was always upbeat and courageous. She began taking long trips, including one to New York in which she was the focus of a "Joan Rivers Show." Her tribute on the show included a warm and generous phone call from Little Richard and a loving video dedication from Stevie Wonder, who, in her honor, sang "My Guy" rewritten as "My Girl."

In early fall of 1991, Mary traveled to Washington D.C., where she testified before a Congressional Committee concerning funding for cancer research. She said: "I'm here today to urge you to keep the faith. I can't cheer you on with all my voice, but I can encourage, and I pray to motivate you with all my heart and soul and whispers."

After a bout of pneumonia, Wells was hospitalized once more and spent her last days at the Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital. On July 26, 1992, the First Lady of Motown died. Gone was the soft, beautiful voice of Mary Wells.

Career Summary

  • She became the first female artist on a new label called Motown.

  • She stayed with Motown for five years.

  • While in Motown, she recorded "My Guy," which earned millions of dollars and became the first No. 1 record for the label.

  • She had 10 top-40 records as a single act and two top-20 records as part of a duet with Marvin Gaye.

  • Some of her hits include: "The One Who Really Loves You," "You Beat Me to the Punch," and "Two Lovers."

  • She was the first female artist on Motown to have Smokey Robinson as her writer and producer.

  • She was admired by The Beatles and other artists.

  • Larynx cancer made her unable to continue her successful singing career.



Bye Bye Baby I Don't Want to Take a Chance

Bye Bye Baby I Don't Want to Take a Chance (1961)

The One Who Really Loves You

The One Who Really Loves You (1962)

Two Lovers and Other Great Hits

Two Lovers and Other Great Hits (1963)

Recorded Live On Stage

Recorded Live On Stage (1963)

Together (with Marvin Gaye)

Together (with Marvin Gaye) (1964)

Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits (1964)

Mary Wells Sings My Guy

Mary Wells Sings My Guy (1964)

Mary Wells

Mary Wells (1965)

Love Songs to the Beatles

Love Songs to the Beatles (1965)

The Two Sides of Mary Wells

The Two Sides of Mary Wells (1966)

Vintage Stock

Vintage Stock (1966)

Servin' Up Some Soul

Servin' Up Some Soul (1968)

In and Out of Love

In and Out of Love (1981)

Easy Touch

Easy Touch (1982)

The Old, The New & The Best of Mary Wells

The Old, The New & The Best of Mary Wells (1983)

Keeping My Mind on Love

Keeping My Mind on Love (1990)



Year Single (A-side) Single (B-side)
1960 "Bye Bye Baby" "Please Forgive Me"
1961 "I Don't Want to Take a Chance" "I'm So Sorry"
1961 "Strange Love" "Come to Me"
1962 "The One Who Really Loves You" "I'm Gonna Stay"
1962 "You Beat Me to the Punch" "Old Love (Let's Try It Again)"
1962 "Two Lovers" "Operator"
1963 "Laughing Boy" "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right"
1963 "Your Old Standby" "What Love Has Joined Together"
1963 "You Lost the Sweetest Boy" "What's Easy for Two Is So Hard for One"
1964 "My Guy" "Oh Little Boy (What Did You Do to Me)"
1964 "Once Upon a Time" "What's the Matter with You Baby"
1964 "When I'm Gone" "Guarantee for a Lifetime"
1964 "Whisper You Love Me Boy" "I'll Be Available"
1972 "My Guy" "What's Easy for Two Is So Hard for One"

20th Century Fox

Year Single (A-side) Single (B-side)
1964 "Ain't It the Truth" "Stop Takin' Me for Granted"
1964 "Use Your Head" "Everlovin' Boy"
1965 "Never, Never Leave Me" "Why Don't You Let Yourself Go"
1965 "He's a Lover" "I'm Learnin'"
1965 "Me Without You" "I'm Sorry"
1965 "I Should Have Known Better" "Please Please Me"


Year Single (A-side) Single (B-side)
1965 "Dear Lover" "Can't You See (You're Losing Me)"
1966 "Such a Sweet Thing" "Keep Me in Suspense"
1966 "Fancy Free" "Me and My Baby"
1967 "(Hey You) Set My Soul on Fire" "Coming Home"


Year Single (A-side) Single (B-side)
1968 "The Doctor" "Two Lovers' History"
1968 "Can't Get Away from Your Love" "A Woman in Love"
1968 "Don't Look Back" "500 Miles"
1969 "Never Give a Man the World" "Mind Reader"
1970 "Dig the Way I Feel" "Love-Shooting Bandit"
1970 "Sweet Love" "It Must Be"
1971 "Mr. Tough" "Never Give a Man the World"


Year Single (A-side) Single (B-side)
1971 "I Found What I Wanted" "I See a Future in You"
1974 "If You Can't Give Her Love (Give Her Up)" "Cancel My Subscription"


Year Single (A-side) Single (B-side)
1981 "Gigolo" "Let's Mix It Up"
1981 "These Arms" "Spend the Nights with Me"


Year Single (A-side) Single (B-side)
1983 "My Guy" Instrumental version of A-side


Year Single (A-side) Single (B-side)
1987 "Don't Burn Your Bridges" Nightmare Dub Mix of A-side
1989 "You're the Answer to My Dreams" Motor-Town Dub Mix version of A-side


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