The Supremes were an all female group from the 1960s that was signed to Motown Records. The group was formed in the year 1959 as The Primettes in the city of Detroit by Milton Jenkins, who was managing an all male group known as The Primes. The initial members of the group were Diana Ross, Betty McGlown, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard. These girls had grown up in the projects of Detroit and formed the group as a female version of The Primes that included Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. These two later formed The Temptations.
Initially, The Supremes did not carry out their own songs, but those by other famous artists such as The Drifters and Ray Charles. They performed at social clubs, talent shows and sock hops in Detroit, and numerous of their ‘live’ gigs were mimed, as was the normal exercise for the duration of this amount of time when backing groups were not only not freely available, but likewise the expense was not considered suitable when songs could be mimed. It was a amount of time when fans paid to SEE their stars, not listen to them singing live.
During this period, none of the girls was a indicated lead singer, each taking on the role depending on the song. Shortly after the group was formed, they had a guitarist on board, Marvin Tarplin. With the guitarist, they could sing live rather of miming and this discerned them from some of the other aspiring groups in Detroit.
The girls entered a local talent contest and won. With this beneath their belt, they decisive to make a record and sign on with Motown. Diana managed to convince a neighbor, Smokey Robinson, to get them an audition with a Motown executive. They auditioned for Berry Gordy Jr. (father of Diana Ross’s oldest daughter Rhonda) who refused to sign them because they were too young. Not to be deterred, they neared Lupine Records and got their introductory single out entitled “Tears of Sorrow”, which was followed by their second one “Pretty Baby.” None of these were hits.
During this time, McGlown was engaged to be married and decisive to drop out of the group. Barbara Martin quickly took her place. The Primettes convinced Gordy to grant them to carry out as background singers and he did. They performed for Mary Wells and Marvin Gaye among others. Finally, Gordy relented and signed them up as The Supremes in 1961. In 1962 Barbara left the group and went home to commence a family living the remaining three Supremes to carry on.
In their firstborn two years, The Supremes had no hits so they sang backup for The Temptations as well as Marvin Gaye. In the latter share of 1963, Gordy chosen Diana as The Supremes lead singer. Their lucky break came with “lovelight” coming in at #23 in December of 1963. In 1964, they recorded “Where Did Our Love Go”, which became their original number one single in America in August of that year. It was likewise their introductory song to be put on British pop charts, reaching number 3. This song opened up the flood gates of number one singles in the US by The Supremes.
The singles included “Come See with regards to Me”, “Back in My Arms Again”, “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and “Baby Love,” this was simultaneously number one in the UK. It was likewise nominated for a Grammy in 1965 in the category of Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. Another hit “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” received a Grammy in 1966 for the Best Pop Single. Among the number one hits were “I Hear a Symphony” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.” In the year 1966 they freed their primary album “The Supremes A’ Go-Go.”
They had become stars, featuring in movies and formulating soundtracks for them. They started out touring globally and endorsing a lot of products. The Supremes broke racial boundaries and were likeable to both black and white audiences. They were amidst the firstborn musical groups to break such boundaries performing in supper clubs including the New York club Copacabana.
Their songs mixed rock & roll with R&B, making it difficult for others to copy their style. They likewise started out appearing on TV shows regularly including The Ed Sullivan Show, on which they appeared 17 times, The Hollywood Palace, Hullabaloo and The Della Reese Show. It was on the back of The Supremes that groups like The Jackson 5 and The Four Tops found their own success.
As is the way of most widely known and esteemed groups, success brought internal wrangles. The group later became Diana Ross and the Supremes in 1967. Additional changes included replacing Florence Ballard with Cindy Birdsong. Diana left The Supremes in 1970 to pursue a solo career, and was substituted by Jean Terrell and The Supremes carried on.
Many young ladies joined and left the Supremes including Scherrie Payne, Susaye Green, and Lynda Laurence who joined the group in the mid 70s. In 1977 the 18 year sovereignty of The Supremes came to an end. 12 of their singles had been number one on the charts. Of all the groups signed by Motown, they were the most successful, rivaling The Beatles in popularity around the world.