I feel like I cheated on this one because back in the early 90s when I was working at Urban Network as the rap editor, I was hearing really sad stories about Mary Wells living in a motel etc. It appears a lot of information was left OUT of the this show and it was probably a good idea.
As the first female of Motown, Mary had a string of hits but she had the same complaints that MANY other Motown artist had, they were not properly compensated. In all fairness to Motown, MOST of the labels have been accused to cheating the artists. Mary believed her own hype. She was a major crossover star who even topped The Beatles when her biggest hit “My Guy” was released.
Her exit from Motown pretty much destroyed her career. She exited because money from her biggest hit “My Guy” was being used to fund The Supremes‘ career after they had several initial costly flops. Mary signed with a then new label 20th Century Fox and they had no idea how to promote a black crossover artist. She released flop after flop took a break for 17 years and stayed home with her husband and children (Bobby Womack‘s brother Cecil) then in an odd twist, she divorced her Cecil and started a relationship with Bobby’s other brother Curtis and had a baby by him in her later years.
Mary, who was a two pack a day smoker for years, developed throat cancer and she was devastated and depressed. She had been using drugs before that and her life out of nowhere changed for the better and there was a new surgery that they thought could repair her vocal chords. People in the show say that Mary was still smoking even after she was diagnosed with throat cancer. The cancer had gone into remission then it came back with a vengeance. She died in 1992 at the age of 49. I don’t have showtimes on this show. The show airs tonight at 10PM EDT and repeats at 1AM EDT.