Category: the Supremes

On this day in music history: March 27, 1965 – “Stop! In The Name Of Love” by The Supremes hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, it is the fourth consecutive chart topping single for the Motown vocal trio featuring Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson. “Stop! In The Name Of Love” is inspired by an argument that Lamont Dozier has with his girlfriend, when he inadvertently blurts out the phrase in the middle of the squabble. The two laugh at what is said and stop arguing. Later, Dozier tells his writing partners about the incident and they write the song about a woman pleading with her man to remain faithful, and not to stray from their relationship. Recorded on January 5, 1965 at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit with The Funk Brothers providing the musical backing, The Supremes add their vocals on January 11, 1965. Shortly after the song is released on February 8, 1965, The Supremes along with several of Motown’s major acts travel to England for a major tour of the country as well as a make an appearance on the popular music series “Ready Steady Go!”. It is on that show that The Supremes debut the signature choreography for “Stop!” with one hand on their hip and the other hand outstretched in a “stop” gesture. Paul Williams and Melvin Franklin of The Temptations come up with the choreography and teach it to the girls prior to the programs taping. Meanwhile, back at home, the single becomes another instant smash for The Supremes. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on February 20, 1965, it streaks to the top of the chart five weeks later. “Stop! In The Name Of Love” alsos receive a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Group Performance in 1966, but loses to The Statler Brothers’ “Flowers On The Wall”. Regarded as a career defining hit for The Supremes, the single is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2001. In 2000, a previously unreleased alternate version of “Stop!” is released on The Supremes’ eponymously titled box set. Running nearly three and half minutes, this other version features foot stomps on the intro and throughout the track like “Where Did Our Love” and “Baby Love”. It also features different lead and background vocals, with Diana Ross singing different lyrics from the officially released version in places. “Stop! In The Name Of Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Albums Released In 1964

Albums Released In 1968


Backstage The Top of the Pops

  1. The Rolling Stones (1964)
  2. The Supremes (1965)
  3. Ike & Tina Turner (1966)
  4. Cher (1966)
  5. Jimi Hendrix (1967)
  6. Shirley Bassey (1968)

Founding member of The Supremes, Florence Ballard, promo photos for ABC Records in 1968

Florence Ballard was born in Detroit on June 30, 1943,

the ninth of fifteen children. She was friends with doo-wop trio The Primes (two of whom would later form The Temptations). When the group’s manager decided to create a sister act called The Primettes, he made Florence its founding member. She recruited Mary Wilson, Diane Ross, and Betty McGlown to form the quartet in 1958. Soon after, Florence was raped at knife point by a high school basketball player. She went into seclusion for a while and dropped out of high school, but eventually rejoined The Primettes. 

By 1960, they signed to Berry Gordy’s Tamla Records (later Motown) and were relaunched as The Supremes. Their first few singles didn’t chart and they were jokingly referred to as “the no-hit Supremes.” Finally, they topped the charts with “Where Did Our Love Go” in 1964. Their next four singles all reached No. 1 and within a year The Supremes were international stars. But there was tension in the group because Berry Gordy considered Diane (now going by Diana) the star. He was having an affair with Diana and gave her all the songs to sing lead. Florence became depressed and struggled with her weight and alcohol. She began missing shows and recording dates.

Berry Gordy groomed another singer, Cindy Birdsong, to replace her. After Florence got drunk before a show at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas in 1967, she was kicked out of the group and sent back to Detroit. For her tenure with The Supremes which included ten No. 1 singles, she was given a one-time payment of $139,804. As part of the agreement, she wasn’t allowed to promote herself as a former Supreme or even mention any association with Motown Records. 

Florence tried to launch a solo career, but after her two singles failed to chart in 1968, ABC Records shelved her album.

She married Thomas Chapman, they had three children between 1968 and 1971. Her husband was reportedly abusive and he left her in 1971.

Florence ended up on welfare and her house was foreclosed. She sued Motown for royalties but lost. Now at rock bottom, Florence entered rehab. Her situation improved when she won an insurance settlement and was able to buy house for her family in 1975. Florence reconciled with her husband and returned to singing. She was attempting to revive her career when she died from cardiac arrest (caused by a blood clot) at 32 years old on February 21, 1976.



Blues & Soul Magazine Covers – 1971

On this day in music history: December 9, 1962 – “Meet The Supremes”, the debut album by The Supremes is released. Produced by Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Raynoma Liles, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from October 1960 – September 1962. It features the first four singles released by the group during 1961 and 1962, including “I Want A Guy”, “Let Me Go The Right Way”, “Buttered Popcorn”, and “Your Heart Belongs To Me”. All fare poorly on the charts which lead people around Motown to dub them the “no hit” Supremes, in spite of the labels’ best writers and producers efforts to come up with a hit single for the group. “Meet” is reissued in early 1965 (originally issued in mono only) it is remixed in true stereo with different cover artwork, after their breakthrough success with the “Where Did Our Love Go? album”. Original copies of “Meet The Supremes” are among the rarest of the early Motown LP’s and command up to $500 for a near mint copy today. In 2010, the album is remastered and reissued as a two CD edition through Hip-O Select Records, with the mono and stereo versions of the original album along with alternate versions and seven live tracks recorded in 1964.

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On this day in music history: November 20, 1965 – “I Hear A Symphony” by The Supremes hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, it is the sixth chart topping single for the legendary Motown vocal trio. From August of 1964 to June of 1965, The Supremes make history,  becoming the first American group to score five consecutive number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, with “Where Did Our Love Go?”, “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me”, “Stop! In The Name Of Love” and “Back In My Arms Again”. All written by the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, they set about penning another chart topper for The Supremes. They come up with the song “Nothing But Heartaches”, which bares a great similarity to the previous single “Back In My Arms Again” (and The Four Tops’ recent smash “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”. The similarity is too close for many fans and radio DJ’s, when the record performs below expectations, stalling at #11 on the Hot 100 and peaking at #6 on the R&B chart in September of 1965. HDH and Motown are shaken by the relative “failure” of the song, and immediately make plans to regroup and put The Supremes back on top. Brian Holland comes up with the initial idea, which reminds his brother Eddie of “a symphony”, developing a concept around that and penning the lyrics, with Lamont Dozier helping complete the song. The basic track for “I Hear A Symphony” is recorded at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit on September 22, 1965 with The Funk Brothers providing the musical backing. Members of The Detroit Symphony adding strings to the track on September 28 – 29, 1965, and The Supremes overdub their vocals on September 30, 1965. Rush released on October 6, 1965, any question of the girls remaining in a slump are quickly answered. Entering the Hot 100 at #39 on October 30, 1965, it zips to the top of the chart just three weeks later.  Four days after “I Hear A Symphony” enters the charts, The Supremes perform the song on the syndicated talk show “The Mike Douglas Show”. The performance is later released on the DVD compilation “The Supremes – Reflections: The Definitive Performances 1964 – 1969” in 2006.

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