Mary Wells' smash hit "My Guy" was her last solo recording for Motown. The first female star for the record label, she also became the first to dare to leave when 20th Century Fox wooed her with a $200,000 advance and potential movie roles. She officially left in 1965.
Motown mogul Berry Gordy allegedly coerced radio stations into keeping Wells' new records off the airwaves, but she still scored a hit with "Ain't That the Truth" and "Use Your Head." Nevertheless, her relationship contract with 20th Century Fox dissolved the following year. She bounced from label to label and eventually retired (briefly) from music in 1974 to raise her family.
Mary Wells' fellow Motown star, Smokey Robinson, wrote and produced this song. Robinson helped Berry Gordy form Motown Records after they realized how little they were paid by the labels that distributed their songs. In addition to fronting the legendary group The Miracles, Robinson also wrote and produced many of the label's early numbers, including other Wells hits like "The One Who Really Loves You
," "You Beat Me to the Punch
" and "Two Lovers
In 1965, Robinson wrote a song similar to "My Guy" from a male perspective that was a huge hit for The Temptations: "My Girl
"My Guy" was the defining hit of Mary Wells' career, but it was also memorable as Motown's first British hit. When it was reissued in the UK and went to #14 in 1972, it brought a renewed interest in Wells. Although she had no problem performing her old numbers for her fans, the singer longed to make a name for herself apart from her Motown roots. Her then-husband/songwriting partner Cecil Womack explained to NME in 1972: "There's a tremendous variety of styles in Mary's singing, and we are now completely free to exploit them – and that is something the public seems to dig."
Unfortunately, the mainstream public wasn't digging Wells' new sound and, although she would re-emerge from retirement in the 1980s, she never regained the success that made her the "Queen of Motown."
Although she was largely ignored by the Grammy Awards' committee throughout her lifetime (she was nominated once for "You Beat Me to the Punch"), Mary Wells did receive a bit of recognition after her death when this song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
Smokey Robinson performed a softer rendition of this song when he delivered the eulogy at Mary Wells' memorial service in 1992. She was diagnosed with stage 3 laryngeal cancer in 1990.
This was used in the 1992 movie Sister Act, with the line "My Guy" replaced with "My God" to turn it into a gospel song.
This was the song that broke up The Beatles famous monopoly on the Top 5 US chart positions in May of 1964.
Bertrand - Paris, France
A number of TV series have used this song. Among them:
The Simpsons ("The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons" - 1997)
Friends ("The One with Mrs. Bing" - 1995)
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ("Stop Will! in the Name of Love" - 1994)
Quantum Leap ("Jimmy - October 14, 1964" - 1989)
Growing Pains ("Dance Fever: Part 2" - 1988)