Soul And / Or Related Artists
the supremes

The SupremesThe Supremes

The Supremes comprised of:

Diana Ross (b. 26th March 1944, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Florence Ballard (b. 30th June 1943, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A., d. 22 February 1976, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Mary Wilson (6th March 1944, Greenville, Mississippi, U.S.A. d. 8th February 2021, Henderson, Nevada, U.S.A.)


Betty McGlown (b. 1943, Detroit Michigan, U.S.A.)

other members at various times included:

Barbara Martin (between the years 1960 - 1962. b. Barbara Diane Martin, 1st June 1943, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 4th March 2020, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Cindy Birdsong (between the years 1967 – 1972 and 1973 – 1976)

Jean Terrell (between the years 1970 – 1973)

Lynda Laurence (between the years 1972 – 1973)

Scherrie Payne (b 14th November 1944, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)


Susaye Greene (between the years 1976 – 1977)

The Supremes were, probably, the first Black female group to take the art of merging popular music and fashion to another level, whilst still retaining their own R & B heritage without any artistical surrender.

Their first incarnation emerged under the group name of Primettes.

Betty McGlown was dating Paul Williams of The Primes at the time, and was the first Primette.

Florence Ballard met Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams of the Primes, the mangager of the male group, Milton Jenkins, created the Primettes.

The Primes were later to become The Temptations.

The founding members of the Primettes were Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, (the then) Diane Ross and Betty McGlown, whom all lived at the Brewster-Douglass public housing project in Detroit.

Florence Ballard had recruited Mary Wilson, who in turn recruited Diana Ross.

The Primettes

The Primettes

The Primettes: Barbara Martin, Mary Wilson, Diane Ross, and Florence Ballard

Tears of SorrowWhen The Lovelight Starts Shining In His Eyes

tears of sorrow / when the lovelight starts shining through his eyes

The Primettes issued a single on a small local label, for Lupine Records (a label created just for them) entitled 'Tears of Sorrow' b/w 'Pretty Baby'.

Barbara Martin was to replace Betty McGlown in 1960.

In 1960, Diana Ross asked an old neighbour, the Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson, to help the group land an audition for Motown executive Berry Gordy.

Smokey organised the audition, however, he was keen to recruit to his own groups ranks, the Primette's guitarist, Marv Tarplin.

After concerns regarding the Primette's ages, the group signed with Motown the following year as The Supremes.

Barbara Martin

barbara martin

Barbara Martin then left the group in early 1962 to have a baby, and Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson became the Supreme line-up familiar to many.

The Supreme's name was only decided upon following the suggestions of 'The Darleens', 'The Sweet Ps', 'The Melodees', 'The Royaltones' and 'The Jewelettes'.

Diana Ross was aginst the name 'the Supremes', initially, as she felt the name had a male influence.

The Supremes early releases saw only minor success, leaving the group with a regular reputation for missing out on chart success.

Diana Ross then took the place of Florence Ballard as the group's regular lead vocalist, at Berry Gordy's suggestion, which did bring chart success at last.

'When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes', was the group's first hit in December 1963 (the song made number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100).

Meet The SupremesWhere Did Our Love Go?

meet the supremes - 1963 / where did our love go? - 1964

In the spring of 1964, The Supremes recorded the single 'Where Did Our Love Go?', (a song originally destined for The Marvelettes, who turned it down).

The Supremes

with holland / dozier / holland

'Where Did Our Love Go' went on to reach number one on the U.S. pop charts,and was the first song to appear on the U.K. pop charts, where it reached number three.

The Supremes

at hitsville studio's

The follow-up releases, 'Baby Love' (which was was nominated for the 1965 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording), 'Come See About Me', 'Stop! In The Name Of Love' and 'Back In My Arms Again', all topped the U.S. singles charts, whilst 'Baby Love' became the only record by an American group to reach number 1 in Britain in 1964.

The Supremes

with holland / dozier / holland

In 1966, 'You Keep Me Hangin' On" was awarded the 1966 Grammy for Best Pop single.

Unlike many of her R & B contemporaries, Diana Ross sang the songs, note for note, with little elaboration, allowing her fragile delivery to carry the song into a radio friendly environment.

Along with the Motown hit machine behind the group, the women had also become fashion role models for many young Black Americans.

Maxine Powell

maxine powell

Much of this was accomplished under the instruction of Motown chief Berry Gordy and Maxine Powell, who ran Motown's in-house finishing school and Artist Development department.

The Supremes had, by now become household names, as well as international stars.

By the end of 1966, the group had scored further success on the national charts with the singles, 'I Hear a Symphony', 'You Can't Hurry Love' and 'You Keep Me Hangin' On'.

I Hear A SymphonyA' Go Go

i hear a symphony / supremes a' go go - both 1966

An album entitled 'The Supremes A' Go-Go', became the first album by an all-female group to reach number one on the U.S. Billboard 200.

The Supremes recorded albums of Broadway standards, played residencies at expensive nightclubs, and were groomed by Motown staff as all-round entertainers.

A 1967 single, 'The Happening', saw the group attempt to become part of the psychedelic movement.

All was not well within the group, as Florence Ballard had grown increasingly unhappy in the supporting role into which Berry Gordy had repositioned her into.

Floence began to drink heavily, she put on weight, and at times could no longer comfortably wear many of her stage outfits.

Resentful of the attention given to Diana Ross, Florence Ballard relied heavily upon the advice of fellow Supreme Mary Wilson, imparting her belief that Diana and Berry Gordy were intent upon her dismissal from the group.

That belief saw fruition in 1967, with Florence becoming replaced by Cindy Birdsong (a former member of the Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles group)

Florence Ballard was, eventually, removed in February 1968, when she received a one off payment of $139,804.94 in royalties and earnings.

It Diesn't Matter How I Say ItLove Ain't Love

it doesn't matter how i say it / love ain't love

Florence pursued a short lived solo career with ABC Records.

She eventually sank into poverty and died abruptly on 22nd of February 1976 from coronary thrombosis at the age of 32.

The Supremes name became changed to Diana Ross and the Supremes, seemingly validating Ballard's concerns.

Several other Motown acts followed suit regarding the name changes, with The Vandella's becoming Martha Reeves and the Vandella's being one example.

'Reflections' was released, moving the Supremes into a new musical area, incorporating social commentary.

Love ChildRight On

love child - 1968 / right on - 1970

Examples of this manifested themselves in the songs 'Love Child' and 'I'm Livin' In Shame' (the first of which was another U.S. number 1).

The Supremes also formed a successful resurrected partnership / recording partnership with the Temptations, highlighted by the hit single 'I'm Gonna Make You Love Me'.

During 1969, there were persistent rumours that Berry Gordy was about to launch Diana Ross on a solo career (the pair were rumoured at the time to have become an item).

These fears were confirmed at the end of the year, when the Supremes staged a farewell performance.

Diana Ross said her goodbyes to the Supremes with the song 'Someday We'll Be Together', a U.S. chart hit on which, ironically, she was the only member of the Supremes to appear.

Diana Ross & The Supremes gave their final performance on the 14th of January 1970 at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas.

Jean TerrellErnie Terrell

jean terrell (solo: 'i had to fall in love') / ernie terrell on cassius clay bill

Diana was replaced by Jean Terrell, the sister of the heavyweight boxer Ernie Terrell.

The new line-up, with Jean and Mary Wilson alternating lead vocal duties, found immediate success with 'Up The Ladder To The Roof' in 1970, whilst 'Stoned Love', became the group's biggest U.K. hit for over four years.

The Supremes then recorded a series of albums with The Four Tops.

The songwriting and production team of Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson produced another Top 20 hit for the group, a Supremes and Four Tops collaboration duet version of Ike & Tina Turner's, 'River Deep - Mountain High'.

Lynda Laurence (a former member of Stevie Wonder's group Wonderlove) replaced Cindy Birdsong in the line-up in 1972.

Jimmy Webb was hired to produce the group's next LP, 'The Supremes'.

The albums single 'I Guess I'll Miss the Man' failed to make an impact on the Billboard pop chart, although the set was notable for the cross cultural song 'When Can Brown Begin'.

Cindy returned in 1974 when Laurence became pregnant.

This precipitated the departure of Jean Terrell, whose place was taken by Scherrie Payne.

Cindy Birdsong then left again, leaving Mary Wilson as the leading singer, allowing her to recruit Susaye Greene in Cindy's place.

The Supremes did make some dancefloor inroads with 1975's 'He's My Man', taken from the album 'The Supremes', reaching number one on Billboard's disco singles chart.

High EnergyMary, Scherrie And Susaye

high energy / mary, scherrie and susaye - both 1976

This trio recorded the self titled 'Mary, Scherrie and Susaye' in 1976, also releasing 'Hi Energy' the same year, before disbanding the following year.

The Supremes then released 'I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking', their final Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and their third number-one single on the disco singles chart.

On the 12th of June 1977, The Supremes performed their farewell concert at the Drury Lane Theatre in London.

Mary Wilson attempted to assemble a new set of Supremes for recording purposes, and toured Britain in 1978 with Karen Rowland and Karen Jackson in the line-up.

This did not come to fruition as the name 'the Supremes' had become the legal ownership of Motown Records.

Jean Terrell, Scherrie Payne and Lynda Laurence won the rights, however, to use the Supremes' name in the UK.

Scherrie began recording disco material with producer Ian Levine in 1989, for the Nightmare and Motor City labels.

Levine also signed Laurence, Wilson and ex Supreme Susaye Greene to solo contracts and recorded Terrell, Lawrence and Greene for a remake of 'Stoned Love'.

In 1988 the Supremes were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

The career of Mary Wilson has also continued with a starring role in the Toronto, Canada production of the stage musical 'The Beehive' in 1989 and the publication of the second volume of her autobiography in 1990.

In 2006, the Dreamworks movie vehicle 'Dreamgirls', saw Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson taking on the female lead parts in a movie, allegedly (and loosely), based upon the Supremes recorcding career.

Masry Wilson

mary wilson in 2008

In 2009, Mary Wilson appeared on the Paul O'Grady show, in the U.K., as part of a Motown Special, celebrating the 50 years of Motown Records.

Barbara Martin passed away in March 2020.

Mary Wilson

Mary Wilson died in Henderson, Nevada, in February 2021.

Real Player


as The Supremes:

Meet The Supremes (Motown Records 1963)

Where Did Our Love Go? (Motown Records 1964)

A Bit Of Liverpool (Motown Records 1964)

The Supremes Sing Country, Western And Pop (Motown Records 1964)

We Remember Sam Cooke (Motown Records 1965)

More Hits By The Supremes (Motown Records 1965)

Merry Christmas (Motown Records 1965)

The Supremes At The Copa (Motown Records 1965)

I Hear A Symphony (Motown Records 1966)

The Supremes A-Go-Go (Motown Records 1966)

The Supremes Sing Holland, Dozier Holland (Motown Records 1967)

The Supremes Sing Rodgers And Hart (Motown Records 1967)

Right On (Motown Records 1970)

with the Four Tops:

The Magnificent Seven (Motown Records 1970)

New Ways But Love Stays (Motown Records 1970)

Touch (Motown Records 1971)

The Return Of The Magnificent Seven (Motown Records 1971)

Dynamite (Motown Records 1971)

as the Supremes:

Floy Joy (Motown Records 1972)

The Supremes (Motown Records 1975)

High Energy (Motown Records 1976)

Mary, Scherrie And Susaye (Motown Records 1976)

as Diana Ross and the Supremes:

Reflections (Motown Records 1968)

Diana Ross And The Supremes Sing And Perform 'Funny Girl' (Motown Records 1968)

Diana Ross And The Supremes Live At London's Talk Of The Town (Motown Records 1968)

with The Temptations:

Diana Ross And The Supremes join The Temptations (Motown Records 1968)

as Diana Ross and the Supremes:

Love Child (Motown Records 1968)

with The Temptations:

TGB (Motown Records 1968)

as Diana Ross and the Supremes:

Let The Sunshine In (Motown Records 1969)

with The Temptations:

Together (Motown Records 1969)

as Diana Ross and the Supremes:

Cream Of The Crop (Motown Records 1969)

Diana Ross And The Supremes On Broadway (Motown Records 1969)

Farewell (Motown Records 1970)

top of the page

SoulwalkingStart HereThe ArtistsListen Out ForThe ChartBeen MissedRespectReal AudioOpinionNetworkJazz & FusionLinksMotown