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9 February 2021, 11:37
The Supremes were one of the first hugely successful girl groups, and their brand of stunning Motown soul produced some of the greatest moments in pop history.
Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross, and Betty McGlown were in the original Supremes, first known as the Primettes, having grown up in Detroit.
They started as the sister act to the Primes (including Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, who went on to form the Temptations). Barbara Martin replaced McGlown in 1960, and the group signed with Motown the following year as The Supremes.
With Martin leaving the group in 1962, Ross, Ballard, and Wilson carried on as a trio. In 1967, Motown's Berry Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross & the Supremes, and replaced Ballard with Cindy Birdsong.
In 1970, Ross left for a solo career and was replaced by Jean Terrell, and in the mid-1970s, the lineup saw Lynda Laurence, Scherrie Payne and Susaye Greene joining until the group called it a day in 1977.
Following the sad death of Mary Wilson, we've taken just 10 of the finest Supremes songs ever for the perfect playlist:
Supremes - Stoned Love
In the UK, this was the Supremes' biggest hit since Diana Ross left the group, peaking at number three in 1970.
The song was intended as a plea for people to end conflict around the world, aimed directly at the Vietnam War. However, some people saw it as a coded reference to drug use, and Motown founder Berry Gordy was said to have hated the song.
HD#392.The Supremes 1971 - "Nathan Jones"
This was the Supremes' lead single from their 1971 album Touch, released after Diana Ross had quit the group.
The song centers around a woman longing for her former lover, a man named Nathan Jones, who left her nearly a year ago "to ease [his] mind."
The track sees all three members at the time (Wilson, Birdsong and Terrell) singing lead vocals.
The Supremes - Come See About Me [Ed Sullivan Show - 1964]
This Holland-Dozier-Holland penned track was a US number one hit for the Supremes in 1964.
It was actually first released by Nella Dodds, but when Motown saw her version climbing, they rushed out the Supremes' single, which quickly killed off Dodds' sales.
Diana Ross & The Supremes - Reflections [Tennessee Ernie Ford Special - 1967]
This was the first song to come under the banner of Diana Ross and the Supremes, and was one of their last hits written and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland.
It was released at the height of the 'Summer of Love' of 1967 and the Vietnam War, and was the first Supremes' song to delve into psychedelic pop. It was heavily inspired by the psychedelic rock sounds of bands such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys.
The Supremes and The Temptations: I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (Gamble / Huff, 1968) - Lyrics
Two of Motown's biggest groups teamed up on this song, on what was possibly the most incredible soul supergroup of all time.
Originally by Dee Dee Warwick and offered to Dusty Springfield, its best known version was this cover when Motown released a joint album by the two groups in 1968.
The song peaked at number two in the US and number three in the UK.
The Supremes - Stop! In The Name of Love [The Hollywood Palace - 1965]
A US number one hit, this was a classic Holland-Dozier-Holland composition, and it came complete with a dance routine.
The Supremes' choreography for the song involved one hand on the hip and the other outstretched in a "stop" gesture. We've all done it.
Supremes - Baby Love 1964
This classic Motown hit reached number one in the UK and US at the same time in late 1964.
The Supremes became the first Motown act to have more than one American number one single, and by the end of the decade, they would have more number one singles than any other Motown act (or American music group for that matter) with 12.
At the insistence of Motown chief Berry Gordy, who was hoping for a follow-up chart-topper, Holland–Dozier–Holland produced 'Baby Love' to sound just like 'Where Did Our Love Go'.
This included Diana Ross's oohing, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson's "baby-baby" backup, and teenager Mike Valvano's footstomping.
NEW ° The Supremes — Where Did Our Love Go! ᴴᴰ (1964)
Written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland–Dozier–Holland, this gave the Supremes their first number one hit in the States in 1964.
When the Supremes were given the song, the group members were apparently not pleased with the song, with Florence Ballard later saying that they had wanted a stronger single similar to the Marvelettes' 'Please Mr. Postman'.
With the song hitting number one soon after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it has since been noted for capturing the spirit of America at the time, with the nation still reeling from the assassination of President John F Kennedy, growing racial tension, and a symbolic example of the end of the optimism of the early 1960s.
The Supremes "You Can't Hurry Love" on The Ed Sullivan Show
Another Holland-Dozier-Holland song, and another US number one for the remarkable trio.
The song was written as a memory of a mother's words of encouragement, telling her daughter that with patience she will find that special someone one day.
16 years later, Phil Collins covered the track, and it reached number one in the UK in 1983.
Diana Ross & Supremes You Keep Me Hanging On (HQ Audio)
You guessed it, this was also a Holland-Dozier-Holland track, and it gave the Supremes another US number one in 1966.
The song's main guitar part is said to have been inspired from a Morse code-style radio sound effect, usually used before a news announcement, as heard by Lamont Dozier.
It has since been covered by multiple artists, with hits by a Vanilla Fudge, Kim Wilde and Reba McEntire among others.