Meet Author Peter Benjaminson (Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar)

Jan 21 2013 7:00 pm
Peter Benjaminson was born in Washington, D.C. and was a reporter and City-County Bureau Chief for the Detroit Free Press from 1970-76. While at the Free Press, he wrote the book Investigative Reporting, with Dave Anderson (Indiana University Press, 1976 and Iowa State University Press, 1990), the first how-to book in that field. It was in print for 20 years. 

In 1979 he wrote The Story of Motown (New York: Grove Press), the first U.S. book ever written about the Motown Record Company. From 1979 to 1981 he was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He taught journalism at Binghamton University, New York University, and Columbia University from 1981-91. In 1984, he wrote Death in the Afternoon: America's Big-City Newspapers Struggle For Survival (Andrews, McMeel) the first and only book about the death of afternoon newspapers in America's big cities. In 1992, he wrote Publish Without Perishing (National Education Association and National Writers Union); and in 1997, he wrote Secret Police: Inside The New York City Department of Investigation (New York: Barricade Books). 

From 1991-1994 he was the spokesman for the NYC Department of Investigation. He was Assistant Editor of the Chief Leader newspaper in New York City from 1994-1998 and the spokesman for the NYC Correction Officers Benevolent Association from 1998-2003. In 2003 and 2009 he was the spokesman for Members for Change in NYC Teamsters Local 237.

In 2008 he wrote The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard (Lawrence Hill Books/​Chicago Review Press.) His next book, "Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar," the first biography of Mary "My Guy" Wells ever written, was released by Chicago Review Press on November 1, 2012.

He lives in New York City.

ISBN-13: 9781569762486
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Chicago Review Press, 11/2012

Complete with never-before-revealed details about the sex, violence, and drugs in her life, this biography reveals the incredibly turbulent life of Motown artist Mary Wells. Based in part on four hours of previously unreleased and unpublicized deathbed interviews with Wells, this account delves deeply into her rapid rise and long fall as a recording artist, her spectacular romantic and family life, the violent incidents in which she was a participant, and her abuse of drugs. From tumultuous affairs, including one with R&B superstar Jackie Wilson, to a courageous battle with throat cancer that climaxed in her gutsiest performance, this history draws upon years of interviews with Wells's friends, lovers, and husband to tell the whole story of a woman whose songs crossed the color line and whose voice captivated the Beatles.

Praise for Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar…

"Superlative . . . Benjaminson attempts valiantly, painstakingly to resurrect the reputation of founding Supreme member Flo Ballard . . . [An] engaging biography."  —Publishers Weekly on The Lost Supreme

"Peter Benjaminson pays tribute to the remarkable life of Mary Wells through a fascinating biography. His relentless research has resulted in not only a riveting tale of Wells's many personal battles but also a gripping snapshot of the music industry in which she worked. Motown's first superstar is given top-of-the-charts treatment in this terrific book."  —Gerald Posner, author, Motown, Why America Slept, and Case Closed

"I thought I knew all there was to know about Mary Wells. I was wrong. Here, Peter Benjaminson tells Mary's story with great love and compassion in a way that informs even the so-called experts. I love Peter's work, and am happy to see Mary Wells finally be given the recognition she so deserves."  —J. Randy Taraborrelli, author,Michael Jackson, After Camelot, and The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

"Peter Benjaminson does an admirable job with Mary Wells, presenting thoroughly researched scholarship, but always going back to reminding the reader of the soaring voice, and wide heart, of Motown's first superstar."  —Charles R. Cross, author, Heavier than Heaven and Room Full of Mirrors

"Mary Wells has finally found 'My Guy'—and it is her biographer Peter Benjaminson. This is a match made in music heaven."  —Al Abrams, author, Hype & Soul: Behind the Scenes at Motown

"Peter exposes the raw truth contained in never-before-released audio interviews with Mary as she lay on her deathbed. This fascinating story hits bookstores everywhere on November 1." — Sister 2 Sister magazine

"Benjaminson (The Lost Supreme) delivers another excellent and fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the artists who made Motown Records a massive success in the 1960s." — Publishers Weekly

"A moving tribute to an artist who should not be forgotten . . . Benjaminson ably captures the artistic milieu of early Motown."  —Kirkus Reviews

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