The quintessential girl group, The Supremes emerged as Motown’s leading female artists. Starting out as The Primettes, the group consisted of original members Florence Ballard, Diane (Diana) Ross, Mary Wilson and Betty McGlown, who was later replaced by Barbara Martin. Signed to Motown in 1961, The Supremes would reach worldwide success as a trio, scoring several Top Ten singles.
Success was slow to come to The Supremes, whose records produced poor results for several years after they signed with Motown. The Supremes got on track to fame in 1963 with the release of “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes,” produced by Motown’s powerhouse trio, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland.
Holland-Dozier-Holland went on to write and produce a string of hits for the group, starting with “Where Did Our Love Go” in 1964. Mega-hits and international stardom followed over the next three years: “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Stop in the Name of Love” and “You Keep Me Hanging On.”
The Supremes, now noted for their style, elegance and stellar performances, reached the top of the charts three times in 1966 with “I Hear a Symphony,” “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “You Keep Me Hanging On.” Supremes A’ Go-Go was the first album released by an all-female group to chart at #1 on Billboard’s 200 list.
Diana Ross, who had long been The Supremes’ lead singer, was placed center stage in 1967 when the group was renamed “Diana Ross and the Supremes.” She would later embark on a solo singing career in 1970 and be replaced by Jean Terrell. Prior to Ross’ departure, the group hit number-one on American pop charts once more with “Someday We’ll Be Together.”
Throughout the 1970s, the group saw multiple personnel changes and expanded their musical style into soul and disco. The Supremes officially disbanded in 1977.
The Supremes on the Ed Sullivan Show, 1964.
Diana Ross & The Supremes perform “Reflections” in 1967.
All Members of The Supremes
- Florence Ballard
- Diana Ross
- Mary Wilson
- Barbara Martin
- Cindy Birdsong
- Jean Terrell
- Lynda Laurence
- Scherrie Payne
- Susaye Greene
The Supremes’ first big hit, “Where Did Our Love Go,” was originally intended for The Marvelettes.