Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Supremes

The Supremes were one of Motown's signature acts in the 1960's, and one of the best known girl groups in musical history. Formed by Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, the girls shot to stardom out of the poverty-stricken Brewster-Douglas Projects of Detroit, Michigan.

The Supremes' first few singles went unnoticed, but then in August 1964, they released "Where Did Our Love Go", which became their first #1 hit. The group had a total of 12 #1 singles between 1964 and 1970, and often appeared on such television shows as Dick Clark and Ed Sullivan.

Though Florence Ballard was the group's founder and original lead, Diana Ross came to the forefront and overshadowed Ballard early on. Producer Berry Gordy was aware that Ballard's voice was far more powerful than Diana's, but considered Diana's voice to be fresher and more commercial.

Tensions rose as Berry Gordy lavished all his attention on Diana Ross, and the situation was further complicated by a romantic liaison between the two. Personal problems and depression lead to Florence Ballard's dismissal in 1967, and Diana Ross left for a solo career in 1970.

As a child, I was always captivated by the look and sound of The Supremes. I have always loved their fabulous matching gowns and bouffant hairdos, not to mention their perfect little dance choreographies.

Original Supreme Mary Wilson recently put some Supremes gowns on exhibit. A montage of this exhibit can be viewed here.

photo: redferns.com

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