Today we celebrate what would have been the 72nd Birthday of The First Queen of Motown, Mary Wells. From 1960 through 1964, with from her fiery self penned debut to her swinging #1 Swan Song, she was the prized possession that headlined Motown tour packages and routinely had a new Top 40 hit for each new season of the year.
However, on May 11th 1964, she recorded what would become her final Motown recording, leaving her take of “When I’m Gone” being the ultimate piece of irony ever committed in studio A at 2648 West Grand Boulevard. Enchanted by a huge advance, movie role opportunities and disgruntled about meager royalty payments from Motown, she abdicated her throne on her 21st Birthday this day in 1964.
Left in her wake were a number of prized recordings that would later get bequeathed to Motown princesses in waiting, notably Brenda Holloway and The Supremes.
One of my favorites is one of them that got public exposure before being confined to the vaults. This rather ornate bit of Holland-Dozier-Holland dalliance has the mild undertone of support of African American men, despite historically being reduced to less than human in society. In times of devaluing, love and support can be used as a medication against what society tells you. It worked at the height of the Civil Rights movement in the mid 60’s, and is still applicable today. A number of Mary Wells’s performances and a great deal of the material she wrote reinforced the belief that love may not solve all, but it sure does make a good medicine.
Thank you Queen of Motown, you shall never be forgotten.