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KF5JRV > TODAY    16.05.19 13:45l 49 Lines 2625 Bytes #7 (0) @ WW
BID : 36421_KF5JRV
Subj: Today in History - May 16
Sent: 190516/1135Z 36421@KF5JRV.#NWAR.AR.USA.NA BPQ6.0.18

In 1959, Berry Gordy started his first record label, Tamla Records,
running it out of a house he purchased at 2648 West Grand Blvd. in
Detroit, Michigan—a location better known as Hitsville, USA. Over the
next three years, Tamla made its headquarters live up to its name,
turning out a string of hit records that included “Money (That’s What I
Want)ö by Barrett Strong (1959), “Shop Around,ö by The Miracles (1960)
and “Please Mr. Postmanö by The Marvelettes (1961)–which is why a young
aspiring songwriter named Mary Wells was so excited to be offered a
recording contract by Berry Gordy in 1962. The catch was that Gordy
wanted to make a record with Wells and issue it on a brand new label
that had no identity or reputation in the marketplace: Motown Records.
Not really in a position to argue, she signed on as the fledgling
label’s very first artist, and two years later, Mary Wells gave Motown
its first #1 hit when “My Guyö reached the top of the Billboard pop
chart on this day in 1964.

Shortly after signing Mary Wells, Berry Gordy transformed her from a
songwriter to a performer of other writers’ material. In this capacity,
she was one of the first singers in the Motown stable to record a song
by the now-legendary Holland/Dozier/Holland songwriting team. That song,
“You Lost the Sweetest Boyö (1963), featured the Supremes and the
Temptations singing backup to Wells—an indication of where she stood in
the Motown hierarchy at the time. It was the songs of Motown Vice
President and chief Miracle William “Smokeyö Robinson, however, which
brought Wells her greatest successes. In 1962, Wells earned her first
and Motown’s first top 10 hits with the Robinson-penned “The One Who
Really Loves Me,ö “You Beat Me To The Punchö and “Two Lovers.ö And then
in 1964, she earned her first #1 with Robinson’s “My Guy.ö

Motown Records would go on to release another 32 #1 hits in the next 10
years, but “My Guyö would be the last solo hit for Mary Wells, on Motown
or any other label. Three days before “My Guyö topped the charts, Wells
celebrated her 21st birthday by exercising her right to opt out of her
Motown contract. At what would prove to be the peak of her career, Mary
Wells became the first significant artist to leave Motown Records,
signing a large contract with 20th Century Fox Records. Only one record
Wells made at her new label—1964’s “Use Your Headö—managed to crack the
Billboard top 40.

Mary Wells, who gave Motown its first #1 hit on this day in 1964, died
of throat cancer at the age of 49 on July 26, 1992.

73 de Scott KF5JRV


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