UNITED STATES - Mary Wells, Motown Records' first female star who paved the way for the success of Diana Ross and The Supremes, shot to fame in the early 1960s only to fade away as a footnote of the longtime Detroit record label.
Now, some two decades after Wells' death in 1992 at age 49, the singer who scored a No. 1 hit with "My Guy," is receiving a push for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Peter Benjaminson, the author of the first Wells biography,"Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Story of Motown's First Superstar,"has spearheaded the campaign for the singer, who he said has not received the recognition afforded to the likes of The Supremes or Martha and the Vandellas.
Benjaminson, 67, believes that aside from Wells' merits as an R&B singer and as Motown's first big female star, she deserves consideration as a pioneer who crossed the black-and-white racial divide in the United States.
"I think it's unfair to have Mary, who set the path for so many superstars today, be excluded from an honour like this, which she should've gotten a long time ago," Benjaminson told Reuters by phone from his home in New York's Harlem neighborhood.
Wells was born into a broken household in Detroit in 1943 and contracted spinal meningitis and tuberculosis at a young age, which left her partially blind and deaf.
After graduating high school Wells set her sights on Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, with a song she wrote herself,"Bye Bye Baby."
"Gordy kept refusing (a meeting), but she kept persisting,"Benjaminson said. "Finally, he got so annoyed that he asked her to sing it right there ... He was so impressed he signed her up the next day as a Motown singer."