- (This page is about the all female soul group. For the doo wop band of the same name, see Supremes(2)).
The Supremes were an American female singing group and a premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s. Founded as The Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959, the Supremes were the most commercially successful of Motown's acts and the most successful American vocal group, with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Most of these hits were written and produced by Motown's main songwriting and production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland. At their peak in the mid-1960s, the Supremes rivaled the Beatles in worldwide popularity, and it is said that their breakthrough made it possible for future African American R&B and soul musicians to find mainstream success. Billboard ranked the Supremes as the 16th greatest Hot 100 artist of all time.
Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross, and Betty McGlown, the original group, were all from the Brewster-Douglass public housing project in Detroit. They formed the Primettes as the sister act to the Primes (with Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, who went on to form the Temptations). Barbara Martin replaced McGlown in 1960, and the group signed with Motown the following year as The Supremes. Martin left the act in early 1962, and Ross, Ballard, and Wilson carried on as a trio.
During the mid-1960s, the Supremes achieved mainstream success with Ross as lead singer and Holland–Dozier–Holland as its songwriting and production team. In 1967, Motown president Berry Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross & the Supremes, and replaced Ballard with Cindy Birdsong. In 1970, Ross left to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Jean Terrell and the group reverted to being The Supremes again. During the mid-1970s, the lineup changed with Lynda Laurence, Scherrie Payne and Susaye Greene joining until, after 18 years, the group disbanded in 1977.
Links to Peel
In Margrave Of The Marshes (page 215), Sheila Ravenscroft mentioned that Peel met the Supremes in America and were one of the ever-expanding list of bands who refused to speak to him. Peel rarely played material from the Supremes on his radio programmes, although his show co-hosted with Tommy Vance had a track from the Supremes (retitled as Diana Ross & the Supremes) played on the 19 November 1967 programme.
When reviewing some of their singles in later years, he criticised some of their songs, especially in Singles Reviews (19th January 1974) where he described their song, "I Guess I'll Miss The Man", as limpid with strings and acoustic guitar doing little to distract our attention. After Peel's death, it was later found out that he had a copy of their 1965 album, 'We Remember Sam Cooke' in his Record Collection: V&A LPs.
- 19 November 1967: In And Out Of Love (7") Tamla Motown
- Where It's At: Baby Love
Top Of The Pops
- 05 May 1983 (TOTP): Baby Love (clip from 07 October 1964)