FormationThe group consisted of Joanne "JoJo" McDuffie (lead vocals), Candice "Candi" Ghant, Kimberly "Maxi" Wuletich, and Cheryl Bailey (who used stage name Cheri Wells). The Mary Jane Girls project was to be solo debut for JoJo, who had sung background for Rick James on tours and recordings. Rick James developed tracks with JoJo and session vocalists the Water Sisters, creating the Mary Jane Girls sound (see last released Motown compilation for verification). Motown offered James a contract for what it believed was the girl group he wanted to produce; not wanting to lose the deal, James lied and told Motown that the Mary Jane Girls were a group and not a JoJo solo project. The other group members were recruited for photographs that were submitted to Motown, and their vocal contributions were limited throughout the history of the group as Rick James continued to use the Water Sisters to back up Jojo on the recordings.
The origin of the group's name is commonly believed to be an homage to James' affinity for marijuana, which is sometimes called "Mary Jane." The four group members took on distinctive character looks with matching personalities:
- Joanne "JoJo" McDuffie (lead vocalist) – Sexy and streetwise
- Kimberly "Maxi" Wuletich – leather queen/dominatrix.
- Candice "Candi" Ghant - Vamp.
- Cheri Wells – Valley girl/cheerleader.
CareerThe group's self-titled debut album was released in 1983 and yielded their first R&B hits: "Candy Man," "All Night Long" (which was later included in the soundtrack of the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City), and "Boys." The group released their second album Only Four You in 1985. That album's lead single "In My House" became the group's biggest hit, reaching #3 on the R&B chart and then crossing over to the Hot 100 chart, where it reached #7 and spent 12 weeks in the Top 40. To date, this is the Mary Jane Girls' only Top 40 hit in the U.S. It also charted on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, peaking at #1 for two weeks in April 1985. "Wild and Crazy Love" was the second single from this album and it also fared well on the R&B (#10) and dance charts (#3). It barely missed the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #42. The last single, "Break It Up," only reached #79 on the R&B chart and did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The group covered the Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons hit, "Walk Like a Man," which was included on the soundtrack of the 1986 film A Fine Mess. The group's next single, "Shadow Lover," was released in the spring of 1986, but problems between Motown and Rick James resulted in little promotion for the single, although it was performed on Soul Train. That same year, the Mary Jane Girls were ready to record their third album titled Conversation. The album was never released and the group officially broke up in 1987.
After Ghant and Wuletich left the group, JoJo McDuffie carried on as a solo artist. She also recorded with Rick James on his 1997 Urban Rhapsody album on the track "Never Say You Love Me," which was originally written for Teena Marie. After leaving the Mary Jane Girls, Cheryl Bailey sang lead for Morris Day's studio group The DayZs. Yvette Marine went on to sue Virgin Records in 1991, claiming that she had shared the lead vocals on the songs "Opposites Attract," "Knocked Out," and "I Need You" on Paula Abdul's debut album Forever Your Girl. In 1993, a jury eventually ruled against Marine.
In 1995, McDuffie, Ghant, and Wuletich, under the name "MJG," appeared on the daytime talk show Jenny Jones as the show's first musical guests. By 1997 Ghant and Wuletich left the group once again.
- Bailey continues to perform and is living in Portland, Oregon.
- McDuffie continues to perform as "JoJo" Original Lead Singer Mary Jane Girls. She is also a television/movie composer. JoJo has also released a solo project entitled "Slightly Dangerous," produced by Danny LeMelle. In the hourly intros to the 2009 VH1 special 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s, McDuffie says she is proud to be a one-hit wonder.
- Ghant is still in the music business.
- Marine is a married mother of two, and is the host of In The Mix with Yvette, a celebrity profile show.
- Wuletich is a successful celebrity chef who just published a cookbook and is developing a T.V. cooking show.
- The group appeared on VH1's Where Are They Now? in 2003. Bailey, Wuletich, Ghant, and Marine appeared in a separate segment from McDuffie, who had just returned from Europe touring with Barry White. JoJo was featured on VH1'S 100 HIT WONDERS discussing her new project "Slightly Dangerous" and showing a recent clip from a concert performance in 2009.