It’s been fifty years since The Supremes released their first number-one hit single 'Where Did Our Love Go', the first of five such consecutive hits.
With numerous gold recordings, soldout concerts and over 100 million records sold, The Supremes remain to date the most successful Motown act and vocal band in the US.
Ironically, Mary Wilson, one of the band’s founding members says she did not like the song at first.
“It was 50 years ago that this was released, and I recall it as if it were just two or three weeks ago,” she says. (…) “I did not like it at all. I’m not sure about Flo and Diane. I was like livid, I said to (co-writer) Eddie Holland, I said, ‘If we don’t get a hit record, our parents are going to send us to college’… we had been singing since we were 13 so we knew this was what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives. Period.”
Originally named the Primettes, the band was founded in 1959 as a sister act to the male singing group the Primes from Detroit.
During the mid-sixties, the Supremes achieved mainstream success with Diana Ross as lead singer and was renamed Diana Ross & the Supremes. In 1970, Ross left the band and became a solo superstar.
After nearly two decades, The Supremes officially dismembered in 1977.
“People always ask if we will ever reunite. But that’s very difficult, because Florence passed away. And, unfortunately, Cindy (Birdsong, who joined the band in 1967) is having a few illness problems. And I think Diane is into her own stardom. She is a diva, a superstar. So sometimes it’s hard to go back. And people have no reason to go back,” says Wilson.
The Supremes’ success story helped change racial perceptions during the American Civil Rights movement, paving the way for future African American R&B and soul musicians.
Both aged seventy today, Diana Ross and Mary Wilson continue to perform live to enthusiastic crowds.