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View Full Version : The Supremes on the Ed Sullivan Show - Live or Pre-Recorded?


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antceleb12
08-04-2018, 09:34 AM
Hi guys,

So it's no secret that on varying music variety shows of the day, some of the shows had their guest artists perform live, some had them lip sync to studio tracks, and some had them pre-record "live" tracks for the artist to mime to on air.

American Bandstand, for instance, always made their acts mime to a pre-recorded track. Other shows followed suit, but Bandstand is the one that sticks out to me.

I had thought that everything done on The Ed Sullivan Show was always live, but looking back at some clips I'm not sure. For example, in the below clip of the Supremes performing a medley of hits in December 1966, Diana is the only one performing with a mic, while Flo and Mary are not. Did the studio have overhead miking available that could pick up Mary and Flo? If so, why did Diana have a mic?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCcUq03mtxU

The next clip that gave me pause was their performance of the Millie/Rose/Mame medley on Sullivan in May of '67. At 2:30 in the clip in the next post, you can audibly hear Flo and Mary sing "how embarrassing" but Flo's mouth is clearly not lining up. Do we know if it was just Mary and Flo miming with Diana singing live? Same goes for their performance of "The Happening" earlier in this episode.

My other question is how often did the Supremes perform fully live on programs like Sullivan (if they did not always perform live) versus how often did they pre-record their vocals? I don't ever recall them lipping to the actual studio record while on Sullivan, but I would not find it hard to believe that there was some pre-recording going on.

Further down the rabbit hole, where did they do these pre-recorded "live" tracks? Did they record them with an in-house band together at an actual studio? Were vocals and instruments recorded separately? I don't know too much about the technical aspects of these live performances but I find it fascinating how different programs had their artists perform at the time.

antceleb12
08-04-2018, 09:35 AM
See 2:30 below for what appears to be a flub in mimming:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDt5iNbVYSs

jobucats
08-04-2018, 09:47 AM
I have always felt and heard that the instrumentals and the background vocals were almost always pre-recorded with only Diana singing live. Sure Mary, Florence, and Cindy are probably singing along also during the actual show but their live vocals, except for mic bleeds, are not audible. I have imagined that there was a studio nearby the Ed Sullivan theater where all of this was pre-recorded. I don't have facts to back this up...only a gut feeling.

sup_fan
08-04-2018, 10:50 AM
I too have believed that the backgrounds were pre recorded and the lead was usually live

But there r pics of MDC doing the Funny Girl medley and you can see the boom overhead. Although maybe that was just for Diana so she wouldnít have to use a hand mike. And m and c just lip synced.

And I believe there are similar pics of a boom over the girls for Itching

I believe the first time on Sullivan w Diana on a hand mike was You Canít Hurry Love. In all the other pics there are no mikes. Hand or on stands

jobucats
08-04-2018, 02:00 PM
And I do believe their first appearance on the show with "Come See About Me" was all live, vocals and instrumentals.

midnightman
08-04-2018, 11:33 PM
I know the first one was live but some others were definitely lipped. I don't think they actually wanted to lip either! LOL you can tell when one member or another either didn't lip or messed up.

Bluebrock
08-05-2018, 02:33 AM
Hi guys,

So it's no secret that on varying music variety shows of the day, some of the shows had their guest artists perform live, some had them lip sync to studio tracks, and some had them pre-record "live" tracks for the artist to mime to on air.

American Bandstand, for instance, always made their acts mime to a pre-recorded track. Other shows followed suit, but Bandstand is the one that sticks out to me.

I had thought that everything done on The Ed Sullivan Show was always live, but looking back at some clips I'm not sure. For example, in the below clip of the Supremes performing a medley of hits in December 1966, Diana is the only one performing with a mic, while Flo and Mary are not. Did the studio have overhead miking available that could pick up Mary and Flo? If so, why did Diana have a mic?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCcUq03mtxU

The next clip that gave me pause was their performance of the Millie/Rose/Mame medley on Sullivan in May of '67. At 2:30 in the clip in the next post, you can audibly hear Flo and Mary sing "how embarrassing" but Flo's mouth is clearly not lining up. Do we know if it was just Mary and Flo miming with Diana singing live? Same goes for their performance of "The Happening" earlier in this episode.

My other question is how often did the Supremes perform fully live on programs like Sullivan (if they did not always perform live) versus how often did they pre-record their vocals? I don't ever recall them lipping to the actual studio record while on Sullivan, but I would not find it hard to believe that there was some pre-recording going on.

Further down the rabbit hole, where did they do these pre-recorded "live" tracks? Did they record them with an in-house band together at an actual studio? Were vocals and instruments recorded separately? I don't know too much about the technical aspects of these live performances but I find it fascinating how different programs had their artists perform at the time.
Without actually double checking i seem to recall two occasions when the girls lipped to the original studio recording. Their first appearance performing "love child" and later on "no matter what sign you are". I will have to double check.

JohnnyB
08-05-2018, 07:27 AM
Without actually double checking i seem to recall two occasions when the girls lipped to the original studio recording. Their first appearance performing "love child" and later on "no matter what sign you are". I will have to double check.

Iím Liviní In Shame was also lip synched.

marybrewster
08-05-2018, 05:20 PM
There's a Sullivan performance of "In and Out of Love" that I'm certain is Diana live vocal, and Mary and Cindy pre-recorded vocal.

You can hear Mary and Cindy clearly through the song, yet there's a part at the end where Cindy goofs and sings part of the lead, yet you can't hear her. Which is why I assume they were lip synching.

sup_fan
08-06-2018, 12:29 PM
otis williams also mentioned in his book about leads being live but the orchestration and backgrounds were pre-recorded.

I'm guessing here but will take a stab at it:

Come See about me - live band and all vocals live
You're nobody till somebody - live band and all vocals live
My World - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
Somewhere - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
Itching - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
More - pre recorded band but i think the vocals are all live
you can't hurry - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
symphony medley - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
fav things - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
hits medley - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
Happening - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
mame - i think it's all lip sync
in and out of love - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
thou swell - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
temps medley - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
forever - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
fats waller - i think all lip sync
Always - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
Irving berlin medley - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
love child - lip sync to the record
funny girl - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
love child - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
living in shame - all lip sync
i get a kick - all lip sync
no matter what sign - lip sync to record
impossible dream - pre recorded band, live vocals
you're nobody - pre recorded band, live vocals
someday - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
hits medley - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
no stopping us now - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
ladder - all lip sync

midnightman
08-06-2018, 01:06 PM
^ Yep that seems accurate. I noticed that the Supremes sometimes lipped to songs they just released. Like when Love Is Here and Love Child were JUST released, they would totally lip them. Same was said about Ladder. But I guess Jean Terrell never got to sing lead on her one and only Sullivan performance?

sup_fan
08-06-2018, 05:58 PM
i believe Diana is actually singing live on Andy Williams Love Is Here. she's just singing on top of her recording.

and i think Jean is singing live for the medley of Nothing Can Stop us now (i mistyped the song name in earlier post)

antceleb12
08-06-2018, 06:19 PM
Without actually double checking i seem to recall two occasions when the girls lipped to the original studio recording. Their first appearance performing "love child" and later on "no matter what sign you are". I will have to double check.

Yes! You're right. Definitely on their appearances latter into the sixties they full-on lipped performances. Thanks for the reminder.

antceleb12
08-06-2018, 06:21 PM
And I do believe their first appearance on the show with "Come See About Me" was all live, vocals and instrumentals.

I would have to agree. And this one is particularly unique due to the particular sparseness of the orchestration (piano, drums, and a small brass section), set design, and choreography.

antceleb12
08-06-2018, 06:23 PM
otis williams also mentioned in his book about leads being live but the orchestration and backgrounds were pre-recorded.

I'm guessing here but will take a stab at it:

Come See about me - live band and all vocals live
You're nobody till somebody - live band and all vocals live
My World - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
Somewhere - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
Itching - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
More - pre recorded band but i think the vocals are all live
you can't hurry - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
symphony medley - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
fav things - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
hits medley - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
Happening - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
mame - i think it's all lip sync
in and out of love - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
thou swell - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
temps medley - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
forever - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
fats waller - i think all lip sync
Always - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
Irving berlin medley - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
love child - lip sync to the record
funny girl - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
love child - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
living in shame - all lip sync
i get a kick - all lip sync
no matter what sign - lip sync to record
impossible dream - pre recorded band, live vocals
you're nobody - pre recorded band, live vocals
someday - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
hits medley - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
no stopping us now - pre recorded band and backgrounds, live lead
ladder - all lip sync

Fantastic list. Off the top of my head, that all seems right. It seems the later it got, the more they lipped or mimed.

reese
08-06-2018, 08:06 PM
i believe Diana is actually singing live on Andy Williams Love Is Here. she's just singing on top of her recording.

and i think Jean is singing live for the medley of Nothing Can Stop us now (i mistyped the song name in earlier post)

Diana is singing live on LOVE IS HERE but I think the show was supposed to turn her mike off. At one point early on, you can see that she hears her live vocal and she moves the mike from her mouth and sort of flutters her eyes. I think they turned off her mike for the rest of the song.

Jean is live on NOTHING CAN STOP US NOW. In the opening lines, she makes a mistake and sings "eating fancy vow" instead of "eating fancy chow."

sup_fan
08-07-2018, 11:00 AM
Diana is singing live on LOVE IS HERE but I think the show was supposed to turn her mike off. At one point early on, you can see that she hears her live vocal and she moves the mike from her mouth and sort of flutters her eyes. I think they turned off her mike for the rest of the song.

Jean is live on NOTHING CAN STOP US NOW. In the opening lines, she makes a mistake and sings "eating fancy vow" instead of "eating fancy chow."

yep - and there are just a few under pitch notes from Jean during the medley too. nothing major. poor girl had to be nervous beyond imagination.

sup_fan
08-07-2018, 11:03 AM
Without actually double checking i seem to recall two occasions when the girls lipped to the original studio recording. Their first appearance performing "love child" and later on "no matter what sign you are". I will have to double check.

No Matter definitely seems like the exact 45 being played. Love Child is almost the same but i notice it's a slightly different mix. i'm not sure if it's really a totally different mix but the piano is much more evident at the downbeat of the verses. i know that's truly the minutia but something i noticed.

jobucats
08-07-2018, 11:27 AM
No Matter definitely seems like the exact 45 being played. Love Child is almost the same but i notice it's a slightly different mix. i'm not sure if it's really a totally different mix but the piano is much more evident at the downbeat of the verses. i know that's truly the minutia but something i noticed.

Hey, sup, thanks for sharing that list. I had always thought that the Ed Sullivan appearance of Someday was just all of them lip synching to the studio recording. I went back to view and listen to it again, and I'll tell you what, I now see that Diana is indeed singing live, and she is on point as to almost duplicating her studio recording. I still tend to believe that the backing track of the original recording was used as opposed to a it being recorded again for this performance. But that's just a chicken wing.

Regarding "I Get a Kick" being all sync....hmmm....the jury at my household is still out on that one. My lawyers are arguing that Diana's free flowing introduction is definitely live, and they're split on whether the rest of song where she sings with Mary and Cindy is live or lip synched.

sup_fan
08-07-2018, 12:01 PM
Hey, sup, thanks for sharing that list. I had always thought that the Ed Sullivan appearance of Someday was just all of them lip synching to the studio recording. I went back to view and listen to it again, and I'll tell you what, I now see that Diana is indeed singing live, and she is on point as to almost duplicating her studio recording. I still tend to believe that the backing track of the original recording was used as opposed to a it being recorded again for this performance. But that's just a chicken wing.

Regarding "I Get a Kick" being all sync....hmmm....the jury at my household is still out on that one. My lawyers are arguing that Diana's free flowing introduction is definitely live, and they're split on whether the rest of song where she sings with Mary and Cindy is live or lip synched.

hahah - it's a real challenge. trying to figure out if they're live or lip. You might be right that the intro is live and then she switched


also i've wildly intrigued about the "missing mike head" lolol. in the hits medley from 69, in the last DRATS Sullivan appearance. During the entire medley up through Love Child, the mike has it's domed top. then in Love Child they cut to a shot of M and a shot of Cindy. when it's back to the group shot, the domed top is gone. Did she eat it???? did she rip it off and throw it? is that what Cindy stumbles on as she and M circle around D leading up to symphony? lolol

and then when they go to Someday, it's back!! like a lizard's tail it's regrown!!

motown magic!! :D

reese
08-07-2018, 12:14 PM
hahah - it's a real challenge. trying to figure out if they're live or lip. You might be right that the intro is live and then she switched


also i've wildly intrigued about the "missing mike head" lolol. in the hits medley from 69, in the last DRATS Sullivan appearance. During the entire medley up through Love Child, the mike has it's domed top. then in Love Child they cut to a shot of M and a shot of Cindy. when it's back to the group shot, the domed top is gone. Did she eat it???? did she rip it off and throw it? is that what Cindy stumbles on as she and M circle around D leading up to symphony? lolol

and then when they go to Someday, it's back!! like a lizard's tail it's regrown!!

motown magic!! :D

I don't think that last Sullivan appearance was taped before a live audience. The applause sounds fake. And the microphone switch all but confirms that they did at least two takes of the medley because there's no way it could have happened during a live performance.

sup_fan
08-07-2018, 12:17 PM
it also fades out. at the end of someday they're singing and the screen slowly fades out.

jobucats
08-07-2018, 12:37 PM
hahah - it's a real challenge. trying to figure out if they're live or lip. You might be right that the intro is live and then she switched


also i've wildly intrigued about the "missing mike head" lolol. in the hits medley from 69, in the last DRATS Sullivan appearance. During the entire medley up through Love Child, the mike has it's domed top. then in Love Child they cut to a shot of M and a shot of Cindy. when it's back to the group shot, the domed top is gone. Did she eat it???? did she rip it off and throw it? is that what Cindy stumbles on as she and M circle around D leading up to symphony? lolol

and then when they go to Someday, it's back!! like a lizard's tail it's regrown!!

motown magic!! :D

Of course, your assessment of the mystery mic brings up Diana's appearance on the Apollo show where she sang, "I Want to Know Where Love Is." That's one in which it is evident, maybe due to her dissatisfaction with 'the take one, live' version, the performance was restaged. You can tell by looking at the individuals standing behind her; you see them and then you don't and then you see them again. But we can't 'hate' her or the producers for this....that's television, baby!

reese
08-07-2018, 02:18 PM
Of course, your assessment of the mystery mic brings up Diana's appearance on the Apollo show where she sang, "I Want to Know Where Love Is." That's one in which it is evident, maybe due to her dissatisfaction with 'the take one, live' version, the performance was restaged. You can tell by looking at the individuals standing behind her; you see them and then you don't and then you see them again. But we can't 'hate' her or the producers for this....that's television, baby!

In RIGHT ON! magazine, it was reported that Diana filmed her solo again after the show was over because she didn't know the lyrics. If you notice, when she's singing, the shot is a close-up which is held for quite some time. When she gets to the line "In my life, there is heartache and pain," it switches to a shot of her onstage surrounded by the choir. If you look closely, you can see one of the choir members giving her the lyrics.

BTW: Jennifer Holliday missed the show completely and filmed her solo afterwards as well. Look closely during her segment and you can see during the long shots that there is no one in the audience.

jobucats
08-07-2018, 02:49 PM
In RIGHT ON! magazine, it was reported that Diana filmed her solo again after the show was over because she didn't know the lyrics. If you notice, when she's singing, the shot is a close-up which is held for quite some time. When she gets to the line "In my life, there is heartache and pain," it switches to a shot of her onstage surrounded by the choir. If you look closely, you can see one of the choir members giving her the lyrics.

BTW: Jennifer Holliday missed the show completely and filmed her solo afterwards as well. Look closely during her segment and you can see during the long shots that there is no one in the audience.

Thanks, Reese. I thought I had read the same explanation of the Apollo performance. One more thing before I put that horse to rest...I loved her performance (filmed again or not) and as many have said, I wish she had recorded a studio version of this. She had the most seductive look in those camera shots.