The Supremes are arguably the most iconic girl group of all time, paving the way for African American artists both male and female to find mainstream chart success in the United States. The Supremes have become symbolic of the diva, strong black female mentality typified by more modern groups such as Destiny’s Child, En vogue and TLC. With the help of one of Americas most infamous recorded music labels, Tamla Motown, The Supreme seemed destined and armed for success, although for a while success seemed like a distant dream.
The Supremes began as the Primettes, in 1958, Detroit, Michigan, by Florence Ballard, a Junior High school student at the time. The band were originally a four piece who embraced the local talent shows, before long they auditioned for Motown owner Berry Gordy who insisted the girls come back after graduating from high school. Un-phased the girls continued to hang around the Motown studio; Hitsville USA, in the hope of recording, the group provided handclaps and backing vocals on many songs. In 1962 the group signed to Motown Records, with group members; Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson. Initially the band took some time to get going; it wasn’t until they teamed up with the song writing dream team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Edward Holland, also known as, Holland-Dozier-Holland that the hits started to pour in.
By 1964 the band had 4 consecutive No.1’s with ‘Baby Love’ ‘Come see about me’ and ‘back in my arms again’. The Supremes would continue to have hits through out the 60’s. By 1967, the group began to fall apart after tensions grew between Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, Ballard began to go off the rails, drinking and turning up late for auditions on a regular basis, Ballard left the group in 1968. The group had been re-named Diana Ross and the Supremes due to Ross’s increasing popularity. By 1969 Diana Ross left the group, to pursue a solo career. The Supremes continued to record with a new line–up, with moderate success.
The strength of The Supremes impact can be seen in the movie 'Sparkle And Dream Girls', the tony award winning musical, which was later adapted into a film (both based on The Supremes story), there image has been imitated many times by artists such as Solange Knowles, Amy Winehouse and Duffy to name a few. The Supremes legacy will be as one of the premier girl groups of all time, that were the female faces of Tamla Motown and pop music worldwide.
Group formed c. 1960 in Detroit as vocal quartet the Primettes; original members included Florence Ballard (born June 30, 1943, in Detroit; died February 22, 1976, in Detroit), Diana Ross (born March 26, 1944, in Detroit), Mary Wilson (born March 4, one source says March 6,1944, in Detroit), and Barbara Martin, who appeared as fourth member on the Primettes' first three singles.
Albums; as the Supremes:
Sources: Segun Murray Ogunsheye; David Bianco
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