Today’s classic, fantastic soul track was first released in 1964 by Memphis-born Mary Frierson, who would later be best known as the great Wendy Rene.
As a teenager Mary Frierson performed with her brother Johnny and two friends Marion Brittenum and Wilber Mondie in a group known as the Drapels who, after a successful audition for Stax co-founder Jim stewart, were all offered a recording contract in 1963 – Incidentally Frierson was also signed to Stax as a solo performer too.
After the signing, Frierson decided that she needed a stage name so she began searching for ideas and it wasn’t long before the great Otis Redding came up with Wendy Rene, this is the name she used for the rest of her solo career.
Both the Drapels and Wendy began recording with the greats including Rufas Thomas, Otis Redding and Stax Records house Booker T. & the M.G.’s guitarist Steve Cropper.
Eventually Stax decided to axe the group and concentrate on the main lead, Wendy. The label let The Drapels’ single slide, but got behind Wendy Rene and in 1964 Rene released her first solo single ‘After Laughter (Comes Tears)’, which was co-written with her brother and released in August that same year. Listen above.
Wendy was due to perform one last show with Otis Redding and the Bar-Kays, but changed her mind at the last minute. It was an auspicious decision as that weekend, Redding and four Bar-Kays died when their plane crashed in Lake Monona. Soon after this Wendy Rene retired from the music business and, as Mary Cross, devoted herself to her family and church.
In 2003 Ace Records released a compilation CD of her recordings, You Thrill My Soul, which included several that were originally unreleased. Another compilation, After Laughter Comes Tears, was issued by Light in the Attic Records in 2012.