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Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar by [Benjaminson, Peter]
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Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Length: 330 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Before Diana Ross defined the image of the Motown female singer, Mary Wells put her stamp on that legendary record company. As a Detroit teenager, she was looking for an opportunity to write songs, particularly for her idol, Jackie Wilson, when an impromptu audition led Barry Gordy to sign her as a vocalist. The hit singles You Beat Me to the Punch and My Guy launched her into stardom. She went on the road with the Motown Revue, coping with little pay, harsh travel conditions, segregated or no hotel accommodations, and the massive insecurities of a young woman looking for a man to take care of her. Benjaminson details Wells’ relationship with Smoky Robinson and the songwriting team Holland, Dozier, and Holland. Wells eventually broke with Motown, charging Gordy with gross underpayment, and struggled for years, never again quite reaching the top but still adored by fans black and white. Through failed romances and marriages, suicide attempts, alcohol and drug abuse, and ultimately cancer, Wells maintained her talent and tenacity until her death, at 49. --Vanessa Bush


"In the end, Wells' story is the stuff of great art. Operas like "La Traviata" and "La Bohème" are centered on such characters; Edgar Allan Poe said that the death of a beautiful woman is the most poetical topic in the world. When you finish this book, you will mourn Mary Wells, sure, and be grateful for the music she left. But don't be surprised if you find that, like John, Paul, George and Ringo, you are more than a little in love with her as well."
-Wall Street Journal


"Peter Benjaminson pays tribute to the remarkable life of Mary Wells through a fascinating biography. His relentless research has resulted in not only a riveting tale of Wells's many personal battles but also a gripping snapshot of the music industry in which she worked. Motown's first superstar is given top-of-the-charts treatment in this terrific book."  —Gerald Posner, author, Motown, Why America Slept, and Case Closed

"I thought I knew all there was to know about Mary Wells. I was wrong. Here, Peter Benjaminson tells Mary's story with great love and compassion in a way that informs even the so-called experts. I love Peter's work, and am happy to see Mary Wells finally be given the recognition she so deserves."  —J. Randy Taraborrelli, author, Michael Jackson, After Camelot, and The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

"Peter Benjaminson does an admirable job with Mary Wells, presenting thoroughly researched scholarship, but always going back to reminding the reader of the soaring voice, and wide heart, of Motown's first superstar."  —Charles R. Cross, author, Heavier than Heaven and Room Full of Mirrors

"Mary Wells has finally found 'My Guy'—and it is her biographer Peter Benjaminson. This is a match made in music heaven."  —Al Abrams, author, Hype & Soul: Behind the Scenes at Motown

"Peter exposes the raw truth contained in never-before-released audio interviews with Mary as she lay on her deathbed. This fascinating story hits bookstores everywhere on November 1." — Sister 2 Sister magazine

"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." — Publishers Weekly

"A fascinating narrative of the life of a popular music icon." —Library Journal

Product details

  • File Size: 2260 KB
  • Print Length: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2012)
  • Publication Date: November 1, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,373 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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