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Guide Profile: The Supremes

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The Supremes

The Supremes

Formed:

1959 (Detroit, MI)

Genres:

Motown, Pop, Girl Group, Soul, Pop-Soul

Original Members:

Diana Ross (b. Diane Earle, March 26, 1944, Detroit, MI): Lead vocal
Mary Wilson (b. March 6, 1944, Greenville, MS): Vocals
(Florence Glenda) "Flo" Ballard (b. June 3, 1943, Rosetta, MS; d. February 22, 1976, Detroit, MI), Vocals

Contributions to music:

  • Gave Motown a successful base from which to build their label
  • Defined the girl-group aesthetic
  • Projected an air of romantic grace and personal style essential to the genre
  • Helped establish a beachhead for American music at the height of the British Invasion

Early years:

Originally a quartet, the Supremes were formed in 1959 under a different name -- Flo and Mary had been recruited by manager Milton Jenkins to assemble a sister group for his successful local doo-wop group, The Primes. The Primettes were soon formed, and through persistently hanging around at the new Motown studios after school hours, they impressed label head Berry Gordy to sign them in 1961. Flo named the group, which now included singer Diana Ross, and the quartet was born.

Success:

The group's initial singles were not received well, and after paring down to a trio, the 1963 single "When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes" only made it as far as 23. But "Where Did Our Love Go," released the next year, hit huge, rocketing to Number One and establishing Motown's "Sound of Young America" in the minds of listeners. Incredibly, the group scored Number Ones with its next four singles, and they were a constant presence on the pop charts for the next six years.

Later years:

Ballard was fired by Gordy for unprofessional behavior in 1967 (a blow from which she never recovered) and replaced by Cindy Birdsong. The group's name was then changed to "Diana Ross and the Supremes," further evidence that lead singer Ross was the breakout star -- at least according to Gordy, with whom she was romantically involved. Ross went solo in 1970, and the trio soldiered on with Jean Terrell as her replacement, but despite some hits, the magic was gone. The group disbanded in 1977.

Other facts:

  • Other members have included: Cindy Birdsong (b. December 15, 1939, Camden, NJ): vocals
    Jean Terrell (b. November 14, 1938, Belzoni, MS): lead vocals
    Barbara Martin, Freddie Poole, Lynda Laurence, Scherrie Payne, Susaye Greene, Betty McGlown, vocals
  • Ross' last song with the group was "Someday We'll Be Together" in 1969
  • Birdsong and Wilson do not sing on the group's last few Ross hits
  • The Primes would go on to become the Temptations
  • Wilson is the only member to stay with the group its entire 17 years

Awards/Honors:

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1988)
  • Vocal Group Hall of Fame (1998)
  • Grammy Hall of Fame (1999, 2001)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame (7050 Hollywood Boulevard)
  • Songs, Albums, and Charts:


    #1 hits:
    Pop:
    • "Where Did Our Love Go" (1964)
    • "Baby Love" (1964)
    • "Come See About Me" (1964)
    • "Back In My Arms Again" (1965)
    • "I Hear A Symphony" (1965)
    • "Stop! In The Name Of Love" (1965)
    • "You Can't Hurry Love" (1966)
    • "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (1966)
    • "Love Is Here And Now You're Gone" (1967)
    • "The Happening" (1967)
    • "Love Child" (1968)
    • "Someday We'll Be Together" (1969)
    R&B:
    • "Where Did Our Love Go" (1964)
    • "Baby Love" (1964)
    • "Back In My Arms Again" (1965)
    • "You Can't Hurry Love" (1966)
    • "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (1966)
    • "Love Is Here And Now You're Gone" (1967)
    • "Someday We'll Be Together" (1969)
    • "Stoned Love" (1970)
    Top 10 hits:
    Pop:
    • "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart" (1966)
    • "My World Is Empty Without You" (1966)
    • "In And Out Of Love" (1967)
    • "Reflections" (1967)
    • "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" (1969)
    • "I'm Livin' In Shame" (1969)
    • "Stoned Love" (1970)
    • "Up The Ladder To The Roof" (1970)
    R&B:
    • "Come See About Me" (1965)
    • "I Hear A Symphony" (1965)
    • "Nothing But Heartaches" (1965)
    • "Stop! In The Name Of Love" (1965)
    • "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart" (1966)
    • "My World Is Empty Without You" (1966)
    • "Reflections" (1967)
    • "Love Child" (1968)
    • "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" (1969)
    • "I'm Livin' In Shame" (1969)
    • "Nathan Jones" (1971)
    • "River Deep - Mountain High" (1971)
    • "Floy Joy" (1972)
    #1 Albums:
    Pop:
    • The Supremes A' Go-Go (1966)
    • Diana Ross and the Supremes Greatest Hits (1967)
    • TCB (1969)
    R&B:
    • Where Did Our Love Go (1965)
    • I Hear A Symphony (1965)The Supremes A' Go-Go (1966)
    • Diana Ross and the Supremes Greatest Hits (1967)
    • The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland (1967)
    • TCB (1969)
    Other important recordings: "When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes," "Forever Came Today," "Some Things You Never Get Used To," "No Matter What Sign You Are," "The Composer," "The Weight," "The Young Folks," "You Gotta Have Love In Your Heart," "Automatically Sunshine"
    Covered by: Phil Collins, Soft Cell, Vanilla Fudge
    Appears in the movies: "Beach Ball" (1965), "The T.A.M.I. Show" (1965)
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