Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Supremes Without Diana Ross

Almost immediately after The Supremes began their phenomenal run of top ten hits in 1964, lead singer Diana Ross and Motown began treating the other two girls, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, like the help. Three years later Ballard was dumped for Cindy Birdsong; it was telling that neither were singing on Diana Ross and The Supremes' last single, 'Someday We'll Be Together'.

Here are the original Supremes with "Where Did Our Love Go" & "Come See About Me" from 1964. This was before Diana had the backing vocals mixed down so low poor Mary and Florence had to scream out just to be heard on stage.

Another hit from Diana Ross and The Supremes, 'Reflections,' taken from their last concert together at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas on January 14, 1970. Listen to how loud Cindy and Mary are singing, and yet...

After Miss Ross left the group in 1970 the Supremes carried on, reinvigorated with the addition of Jean Terrell. She and Mary Wilson traded on lead vocals, recording some of the group's funkiest tunes including 'Up The Ladder to the Roof', 'Stoned Love' (both top ten hits), 'Floy Joy', and 'Nathan Jones' (top 20 hits).

'Bad Weather,' was a song written and produced for The Supremes by Stevie Wonder. It didn't chart that highly but it's a great number. I met Mary Wilson backstage after her first show one night and asked if she ever performed 'Bad Weather.' She was delighted someone remembered it, she hadn't done the song in years. She performed a rousing version that night, the audience was ecstatic. I understand she added 'Bad Weather' back to her repertoire after that point.