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The Supremes

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The Supremes
The Supremes 1966.JPG
The Supremes: Diana Ross (right), Mary Wilson (center), Florence Ballard (left) performing My World Is Empty Without You on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966.[1]
Background information
Also known as The Primettes; Diana Ross & the Supremes
Origin Detroit, Michigan
Genres R&B, doo-wop, soul, pop, disco
Years active 1959–1977
Labels Lu Pine (Primettes), Motown (Supremes)
Associated acts The Temptations
Past members Diana Ross; Mary Wilson; Florence Ballard; Betty McGlown; Barbara Martin; Cindy Birdsong;Jean Terrell; Lynda Laurence; Scherrie Payne; Susaye Greene
Diana Ross in 2007

The Supremes were an American female singing group. It was originally founded as The Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959. Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard sang in the group. They recorded music for Motown records. The Supremes' were known for their doo-wop, pop, soul, and disco.

The Supremes were the most commercially successful of Motown's acts and are, to date, America's most successful vocal group[2] with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100.[3] Most of these hits were written and produced by Motown's main songwriting and production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland. At their peak in the mid-1960s, the Supremes rivaled the Beatles in worldwide popularity.[3] Their success made it possible for future African American R&B and soul musicians to find mainstream success.[3]

Founding members Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross, and Betty McGlown, all from a public housing project in Detroit,[4] formed the Primettes as the sister act to the Primes (with Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, who went on to form the Temptations).[4] Barbara Martin replaced McGlown in 1960, and the group signed with Motown the following year as the Supremes. Martin left the act in early 1962, and Ross, Ballard, and Wilson carried on as a trio.

During the mid-1960s, the Supremes achieved mainstream success with Ross as lead singer. In 1967, Motown president Berry Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross & the Supremes, and replaced Ballard with Cindy Birdsong. Ross left to pursue a solo career in 1970 and was replaced by Jean Terrell, at which point the group's name reverted to the Supremes. After 1972, the lineup changed more frequently; Lynda Laurence, Scherrie Payne, and Susaye Greene all became members of the group during the mid-1970s. The Supremes disbanded in 1977 after an 18-year run.


  1. [1] Diana Ross and The Supremes live performance
  2. Bronson, Fred 2003. The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, page 265. Billboard Books.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Unterberger, Richie. "The Supremes". The Supremes have sold over 100 million records to date. Their catalog remains active 50 years later. Allmusic. Retrieved on July 4, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Wilson, Mary. 1986. Dreamgirl: my life as a Supreme. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-21959-8 29–36

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