About The Supremes
Hailing from Detroit, The Supremes helped define the Motown sound of the 1960s on their way to becoming the most successful American vocal group of all time.
• Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson began singing together in 1959 as the Primettes, a quartet that soon signed with Motown Records, changed its name to The Supremes, and became a trio.
• The Supremes rattled off a dozen No. 1 hits between 1964 and 1969, most of which featured the group’s definitive lineup: Ross, Ballard, and Wilson.
• The group released nine singles before breaking through with “Where Did Our Love Go.” Written by Motown’s star team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, the song spent two weeks at No. 1 in August 1964—the first of four consecutive chart-toppers.
• In 1967, as the hits continued to flow, the trio rebranded as Diana Ross & The Supremes. That same year, Cindy Birdsong replaced Ballard, who died in 1976.
• Ballard’s departure coincided with a blip in the group’s commercial fortunes: between “Reflections” in 1967 and a cover of The Band’s “The Weight” in 1969, just six of the 11 singles released as Diana Ross & The Supremes reached the Top 20, and “Love Child” was the only No. 1 hit.
• Though The Supremes were largely a singles-oriented group, a collaborative 1968 LP with another blockbuster Motown act, Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations, went to No. 2 on the albums chart. It was The Supremes’ second-highest-charting album after the No. 1 album The Supremes A’ Go-Go in 1966, and their only LP to go gold.
• After one final chart-topping single, 1969’s “Someday We’ll Be Together,” Ross left the group for a solo career and was replaced by Jean Terrell.
• A changing pop landscape and the loss of their marquee star hampered The Supremes in the ’70s. Their 1970 singles “Up the Ladder to the Roof” and “Stoned Love” were the group’s last songs to make the Top 10.
• Birdsong left The Supremes in 1972, starting a cascade of personnel changes that continued until the group—then comprising Wilson, Scherrie Payne, and Susaye Greene—called it quits in 1977.
• Though Ross performed “Someday We’ll Be Together” with Wilson and Birdsong on the 1983 TV special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, a full-scale reunion never materialized. Wilson died in February 2021.