The Supremes

Originally formed in 1959 as The Primettes - sister group to the male vocal act The Primes - the Supremes were shaped by Motown boss Berry Gordy to become one of the label's most successful acts. The original line-up of the trio was composed Florence Ballard, her best friend Mary Wilson and Wilson’s classmate Diana Ross. As the trio's fame grew with major international hits such as “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Baby Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love”, Diana Ross became the center of attention and a star in her own right. Berry Gordy's decision to focus attention on Ross by renaming the group Diana Ross & the Supremes - he said as a commercial enterprise in the same way as Martha Reeves & the Vandellas and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - didn't sit well with the other two singers and, by 1967, the disenchanted Florence Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong, formerly a member of Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles. They had far less success in this incarnation, partly due to the departure of Motown's top songwriting team, Brian Holland-Lamont Dozier-Eddie Holland, following a dispute over money. They only had one Number 1 with the new line-up – “Love Child” - and while they had other hits such as “Reflections” and “The Happening”, their frothy sound was superseded by the new militancy being embraced by black music and they were no longer the same commercial force they'd been with Florence Ballard. Their fortunes were revived by collaborations with Motown stablemates the Temptations and they had one last Number 1 with “Someday We'll Be Together” before Diana Ross left the group in January 1970. Jean Terrell replaced Diana Ross as the third member of the Supremes. While they continued to have Trop 40 hits – “Automatically Sunshine” and “Floy Joy” – they didn’t experience the same success they had achieved in the ‘60s. Cindy Birdsong left the group in 1972 and was replaced by Linda Laurence. Jean Terrell left the Supremes in 1973 and the Supremes’ line-up continued to change – including the brief return of Cindy Birdsong – before finally splitting in 1977. From their original line-up, Florence Ballard died in poverty on February 22, 1976 while Mary Wilson died on February 8, 2021.

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Stations Featuring The Supremes

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