I don’t know what to believe because I was not there but anyhoooo – here’s the scoop!
In a shocking autobiography chronicling her rise, fall and long-delayed resurgence as a siren of rhythm and blues, LaVette takes aim at the bed-hopping, wife-beating, money-grabbing antics of the best-known names to emerge from Detroit.
From her affairs with Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin’s husband, Ted White, to her HATE for Diana Ross and her attempts to introduce a teenage Stevie Wonder to sex, LaVette, 66, spares no sordid detail of the cocaine and alcohol-fuelled Motown mayhem.
Despite a couple of modest hits in the early 1960s, she never earned the acclaim of Diana Ross and the Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips, or Dionne Warwick and the other female stars of Motown Records.
Driven to prostitution, she nursed a grudge against the stars who “all went on and left me and never reached back to get me. All these people suddenly became millionaires and moved out. Nobody was left there but me.”
In A Woman Like Me, written with the biographer David Ritz, she describes a world where male performers had “both a home wife and a road wife”.
She claims it was part of “Detroit showbiz culture” for men to beat their wives, and that even stars such as Franklin and Tina Turner put up with being “slapped around” because their husbands were teaching them how to handle their careers.
LaVette was born Betty Jo Haskin in Michigan, and moved to Detroit aged six. She was only 16 when she took a more “showbiz-like” name and slept with her first music producer. She claims to have slept with a young Redding, who asked her to marry him even though he had a pregnant girlfriend at the time.
However, the bulk of her bitterness is aimed at Diana Ross, whom she calls ‘a stuck-up b**** with a small voice and big ambition.
LaVette recalled one incident in which the jealous wife of a song-writer who had a crush on the diva attacked her at a nightclub and tried to strip off her dress.
“America’s Supreme sweetheart was left standing in her slip, panties and bra,” LaVette writes, gleefully.
Despite wide success with the 1962 ‘My Man – He’s a Loving Man,’ LaVette failed to win the success as a young artist that her contemporaries enjoyed.While Diana Ross and the Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Dionne Warwick soared to national fame and multimillion-dollar fortunes, LaVette languished in near-obscurity.
LaVette achieved an improbable breakthrough when a French collector of Motown music discovered an old, unpublished album by her and released it in Europe. She went back to the recording studio and won praise and awards for new album.