How the Supremes and Little Stevie Wonder played a role in the Northeast’s biggest aristocratic love scandal
ON April 12, 1965, Ian Wright, the Echo’s teen intern snapper, traveled to the Globe in Stockton to photograph Tamla Motown’s tour, which featured a stellar cast: The Supremes, consisting of Mary Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, plus Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Little Stevie Wonder, the Temptations and Georgie Fame.
However, promoter Harold Davidson arrogantly believed the tour would sell itself and banned all media coverage – even at the Globe, which had become Ian’s second home, he was there so often, but at this time. occasion, he was turned away.
After learning his trade on the Echo, Ian went with Harold Evans to the Sunday Times and ended up working for the newspaper in America. He got a house in Los Angeles, and luckily one of his neighbors was Mary Wilson.
Ian was back at the Globe last week (above) to launch his new book on the restored site. In the book, he recounts how he was chatting with his neighbor, like you do, and he mentioned that he had already tried to photograph her in Stockon.
And she mentioned that, of all the shows around the world that she had given, she too remembered that night at the Globe.
The Supremes in 1964: (from left to right) Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross
She remembered seeing a “Dusty Springfield guy” hanging out backstage, laughing and laughing like a schoolgirl. Later, after the show, she spotted him on the bus where she was snuggling up to Georgie Fame – he was at the peak of his glory by then, having just scored the first of his three No 1s with Yeh, Yeh.
Tour director Dick Scott told the stars the bus was going to make a detour for dinner.
“We turned down this winding road to this magnificent mansion,” Mary Wilson told Ian. “We all disembarked marveling at its splendor. Then we heard music. It was jazz, coming from within.
“Go up the many stone stairs in this magnificent entrance hall.
“All I remember was the candlelight and the servants taking our coats and presenting us with monogrammed plates and cutlery wrapped in a napkin. They escorted us to the dining room where there was a fabulous buffet, and the combo was playing.
“The band leader introduced himself and the band members, said he was glad we came over, and we all sang a few songs, and around midnight Dick Scott called the clock. The bus ride to the hotel, I remember, was not very long.
It was all Mary Wilson knew.
Ian, a true press man, knew much more. He knew that the magnificent mansion was Wynyard Hall and that the laughing “dusty guy” was Nicolette, the Marquise of Londonderry, wife of the 9th Marquess of Londonderry.
Nicolette – known as Nico – was born in 1940, the daughter of a wealthy London stockbroker and a Latvian baroness. She was one of the last debutantes to be introduced to the Queen and at the age of 16 she was engaged to the 9th Marquis, 20, who had inherited the Wynyard Estate two years earlier when her father succumbed to the ‘alcoholism.
Nico and the Marquis, who devoted a fortune to restoring Wynyard, had two children, but in early 1965 the Marquis saw the pretty 22-year-old singer from Lancashire do Yeh, Yeh on Top of the Pops.
Yeah, yeah, thought Nico. She was seduced. She looked for him in London and joined in on the tour.
When it came to the Globe, she had to make sure the stars returned to her place – and the leader of the group, the Eton Five, was her husband, Alistair Vane-Tempest-Stewart, the 9th Marquis.
In 1969, Nico gave birth to her third child, Lord Castlereagh. The suspect Marquis confronted her, a blood test was taken, and Fame was identified as the father.
The divorce in 1971 made headlines, especially as the ex-Marchioness immediately married her pop star at the Marylebone Register Office.
Sadly, she committed suicide in 1993 by jumping from the Clifton Suspension Bridge near Bristol. She left a note saying she had “no purpose in life” after her children left home.
Ian’s story doesn’t end there. The morning after the Globe concert, he showed up at the all-star hotel, the Billingham Arms (demolished in 2015 for an Aldi) to see if he could take pictures as the tour bus left for the Newcastle Town Hall.
But there was a pandemonium. Little Stevie Wonder – aged 15 and, of course, blind – was missing. Ian spotted Dick Scott giving a description of the missing boy to Billingham’s bobby.
“He’s black, 14.4ft 11, weighs about 95 pounds, wears dark glasses, a yellow jacket, black shirt and pants, white shoes and a cap,” Dick replied.
The bobby riding his bike said, ‘Don’t worry, no one else fits that description in this town. I’ll find him soon, sir, “and I went looking for Little Stevie Wonder,” Ian says in the book.
An hour later, exactly at noon, when the bus was due to leave, Stevie Wonder casually strode over to the Billingham Arms with a large paper bag. Ignoring the commotion, he had gone to see the sights of Billingham.
“Kissing Stevie with delight,” said Ian, “Dick Scott crushed the contents of the paper bag and the juice from the fresh fruit inside ran down the front of Stevie Wonder’s jacket.
Curtain Up: The Globe, 1935-1975 by Ian & Lauren Wright, costs £ 25 and is available from The Globe in Stockton.
READ MORE: HOW MICK JAGGER WAS BLOOD AND ALMOST BLIND IN THE GLOBE