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Chris Clark

Chris Clark was a 17-year-old, 6-foot platinum blonde when she arrived at Motown‘s Detroit headquarters in 1963 to audition for Berry Gordy Jnr.

The Motown boss signed Chris to his label after she performed an impromptu version of the Etta James song, All I Could Do Was Cry.

This resulted in her landing a receptionist’s job at the company for two years before finally recording her first single in 1965, Do Right Baby, Do Right – still one of the most uncharacteristically funky records Motown ever made – followed by Love’s Gone Bad and her third single, I Want To Go Back There Again.

Neither of these, nor a rollicking version of Robinson’s From Head to Toe or Holland-Dozier-Holland’s hard-rocking Love’s Gone Bad were hits (the latter peaked at #41 on the Billboard R&B charts), but Clark’s 1967 album debut, Soul Sounds made her a cult heroine.

After CC Rides Again – the sole release on Motown subsidiary Weed (the slogan was “All your favourite stars are on Weed”) – tanked, Clark segued into a behind-the-scenes role with Motown that included her receiving an Academy Award nomination for co-scripting the 1972 Diana Ross-starring Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues.

Clark left Motown in 1982 and married Ernest Tidyman – writer of the original Shaft novels and The French Connection and High Plains Drifter screenplays – who died, aged 56, two years later.

She spent the next 15 years living in a cabin in Arizona, where she chopped her own wood and worked on her photography, specialising in portraits of Motown stars.

In 2005, inspired by the UK division of Universal having issued a two-CD anthology of her vintage Motown recordings (including 25 previously unreleased songs), Clark returned to performing – as the opening act on a Temptations/Four Tops tour of England.