On this day in music history: May 16, 1964 – &…

On this day in music history: May 16, 1964 – “My Guy” by Mary Wells hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written and produced by William “Smokey” Robinson, it is the biggest hit for Motown Records’ first major female vocalist. Having written and produced a string of hits for Mary Wells beginning with “The One Who Really Loves You” (#2 R&B, #8 Pop) in 1962, Smokey Robinson pens “My Guy” for the singer in early 1964. The basic track is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI in January of 1964, with musical backing by The Funk Brothers and background vocals by The Andantes (Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow and Louvain Demps). Smokey initially is unsure about the intro section of the song while recording the instrumental track. One of the musicians suggests using the same chord changes as the jazz/pop standard “Canadian Sunset”. The changes work and are integrated into the song. Released on March 13, 1964, the single quickly takes off. Entering the Hot 100 at #50 on April 4, 1964, it shoots to the top of the chart six weeks later, selling nearly two million copies in the US. Topping the chart just three days after her twenty-first birthday, “My Guy” is also Wells’ last major hit, as she leaves Motown shortly after terminating her contract with label at the suggestion of her then first husband. Having signed her contract while still a minor, it becomes void after Wells turns twenty-one. In spite of overtures from Motown to renew her deal, Mary signs a lucrative contract with 20th Century Fox Records, that also promises movie roles as well. Unfortunately, her tenure at 20th Century Fox Records yields no hits, and is released from the label after less than a year. “My Guy” becomes one of the most covered songs in the Motown catalog, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.