Mary Wells Biography

The first female star to emerge and leave Motown

Biography and Guitar Lessons

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Mary Wells

Mary Wells was the first female superstar of Motown. Her first three singles all charted in the top 10.

Working closely with Smokey Robinson and songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland, Mary’s career was flying high between 1960 and 1964.

She even headlined Motown’s revue tours in 1962, meaning she was seen as the label’s biggest act.

To top the success off she released My Guy which became such a big hit it even charted in the UK.

She even joined The Beatles, who had declared her their favorite singer, on their U.K tour in 1964, making her Motown’s first artist that performed overseas.

This all seemingly went to Mary’s head as she started to demand more money from Berry Gordy. Lawsuits followed and Mary Wells’s career came to a halt.

Apparently, the argument started with that the money Berry made from her success was clearly invested in Berry’s new discovery, Diana Ross and her band The Supremes.

Wells left Motown in 1964 to pursue her recordings with other labels. After ten years of mainly flops, Mary called it a day in 1974 to raise children.

In 1977, she made a comeback with Gigolo, a disco tune that reached #2 in the charts. This must have spurred her on as she now spent another decade recording for various labels, unfortunately with little success.

In the early 90s, Mary fell ill and lost her fortune to medical bills. Her old pals Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson gathered a bunch of stars to help her with cash, benefit concerts, thoughts and prayers.

Mary pulled one last multi-million dollar lawsuit against Motown for unpaid royalties before she finally past away in 1992. She was buried in the same cemetery as Sam Cooke.


Guitar Lessons


My Guy – Step 1

A standard on the Motown/Soul setlist, this sugar-sweet pop hit is a must to learn for the aspiring soul guitarist.

With one foot in jazz rather than blues, we get more maj7 and 6 chords than dom7 chords.

Go to My Guy step 1.


My Guy – Step 2 (Free Preview)

The more you change between the rhythms and positions, the better.

Right now, this is not about performing the song, this is practicing getting good at moving around the neck. First, we develop, then we refine.

Go to My Guy step 2.


My Guy – Step 3

Today we dive into the bridge. As always, start by playing exactly like the TAB says.

Should you do this in less than half an hour, spend the remaining time improvising what shapes you play.

Go to My Guy step 3.


My Guy – Step 4

If you can move around the neck, rhythmically, and dynamically communicate with the band you’re playing with, then you’re making music.

Perhaps you spend today practicing the licks. If you do, remember, the guy who played it just came up with it, he didn’t practice it.

Go to My Guy step 4.


My Guy – Step 5

There was a lot of TAB in the last few lessons, today there’s even more!

Luckily it is the same concepts repeated, and they all build on what you’ve done before so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get through it all.

Go to My Guy step 5.


My Guy – Step 6

For the first three examples, we just play chords using the same rhythm as the bridge had. We also mainly stay in each area.

In these last three examples, we play licks instead of chords. Notice how the licks follow the chords.

Go to My Guy step 6.


My Guy – Step 7

Today you’ll find out how well all that preparation paid off as it’s time to play the full song.

Use the TAB to play along with me before you tackle the song on your own.

Go to My Guy step 7.


My Guy – Step 8

You could still use the TAB when you play on your own with the band, but it would be better if you didn’t.

Instead, aim to explore the fret board as you play the song. This is what will create your most organic and best sounding “part”.

Go to My Guy step 8.


Related Pages


Chords and Guitar Lessons

My Guy was an early Motown hit from Mary Wells who was the first female Motown star.

Using more jazz-influenced harmony and playing, when you learn this song you’ll get an introduction to “playing over changes” as the licks use new scales for each chord.

Go to My Guy chords and guitar lessons.


Lyrics

Nothing you could say could tear me away from my guy
Nothing you could do ’cause I’m stuck like glue to my guy
I’m sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter
Like birds of a feather, we stick together

Go to My Guy lyrics.


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Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

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