Dutch 7" single cover
|Single by Mary Wells|
|from the album Mary Wells Sings My Guy|
|B-side||Oh Little Boy (What Did You Do to Me)|
|Released||March 13, 1964|
|Recorded||Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); 1964|
|Mary Wells singles chronology|
"My Guy" is a 1964 number-one hit single recorded by Mary Wells for the Motown label. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson of The Miracles, the song is a woman's dedication to the goodness of her man ("There's not a man today who could take me away from my guy").
At the session for the "My Guy" backing track the studio musicians were having issues completing the intro: with the musicians having been playing all day and a half hour scheduled studio time left, trombonist George Bohannon pointed out to keyboardist Earl Van Dyke that the opening measure of "Canadian Sunset" could be perfectly juxtaposed on the intro's chord changes, and Van Dyke, the session bandleader, expediently constructed an intro incorporating the opening of "Canadian Sunset" and also the "left hand notes" from "Canadian Sunset" composer Eddie Heywood's rendition of "Begin the Beguine". Van Dyke would recall: "We were doing anything to get the hell out of that studio. We knew that the producers didn't know nothing 'bout no 'Canadian Sunset' or 'Begin the Beguine'. We figured the song would wind up in the trash can anyway".
When Wells recorded her vocal she sang over the song's outro with a huskiness evoking the line delivery of Mae West: Wells would recall: "I was only joking but the producers said 'Keep it going, keep it going'."
"My Guy" became the biggest hit ever for Wells, Motown's first female star, and reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. The song led the Cashbox magazine R&B chart for seven weeks. "My Guy" also happened to be Wells' last hit single for Motown, excepting duets she recorded with label mate Marvin Gaye. An option in her recording contract allowed Wells to terminate the contract at her discretion after she reached her twenty-first birthday on May 13, 1964. Encouraged by her ex-husband, Wells broke her Motown contract and signed with 20th Century Fox in hopes of higher royalties and possible movie roles. However, Wells' career never again reached the heights it had at Motown, and she never again had a hit single as big as "My Guy".
In the United Kingdom, "My Guy" peaked at number five in June 1964.
"My Guy" has three times returned to the "Billboard" Hot 100 first as rendered by Petula Clark whose rendition featured on her 1971 album Now peaked at #70 crossing over from the Easy Listening chart where it reached #12. In 1980 Amii Stewart and Johnny Bristol recorded a medley of "My Guy" and another Motown classic, the Temptations' "My Girl": "My Guy - My Girl (Medley)" peaked #63 in the U.S. - #76 R&B - and #39 UK. The track was re-issued in 1986 with Bristol's vocal being replaced by Deon Estus: this version reached #63 UK. Sister Sledge remade "My Guy" for their 1982 album The Sisters from which it was issued as lead single to afford the group a third Top 40 hit although with a #23 peak its chart impact was well below that of the group's precedent hits "He's the Greatest Dancer" and "We Are Family" (both 1979) which had respective chart peaks of #9 and #2. "My Guy" also afforded Sister Sledge a fifth and final R&B hit its R&B chart peak being #14. The Sister Sledge version of "My Guy" had its strongest impact on the Easy Listening chart where it rose as high as #2.
The song has also been recorded by Lucia Altieri (it) (rendered in Italian as "Non Ti Scuso Piu"), Aretha Franklin, Nancy Holloway (fr) (rendered in French as "Bye Bye"), Claudine Longet, Barbara McNair, Melba Moore, Dara Sedaka, and Helen Shapiro. Mary Wells herself re-recorded the song in a funk rendition for her 1984 album, I'm a Lady.
More than via any straightforward remake, "My Guy" has had its highest profile since the Mary Wells original through its appearance on the soundtrack of the Whoopi Goldberg film Sister Act (1992) in a rendition which substitutes "My Guy" with "My God", transforming the song into a faux-gospel number. In 1999, "My Guy" was inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame.
- Lead vocals by Mary Wells
- Background vocals by The Andantes: Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps
- Written and produced by William "Smokey" Robinson
- Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers:
"Hello, Dolly!" by Louis Armstrong
|Billboard Hot 100 number one single
(Mary Wells version)
May 16, 1964 (2 weeks)
"Love Me Do" by The Beatles
- Benjaminson, Peter (2012). Mary Wells: the tumultuous life of Motown's first superstar (1st US ed.). Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-56976-248-6.
- Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits. New York: Billboard Books. p. 147. ISBN 0823076776. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 617.