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  1. #1

    what if Diana hadn't left the group - what style/route should they have taken?

    What if Diana had NOT gone solo? would the DRATS have done the Frank Wilson material? Or would they as a group have done the A&S stuff

    or should have they done something else?

  2. #2
    This is a hard one to answer since my personal opinion is that she left the group right on time. I don't think there was really anywhere else for the Supremes and Diana Ross to go creatively except down. But for conversation sake, if "Someday" was released without any thought to Diana leaving, I would think Johnny Bristol would take over the next big group project. But there's a strong case to be made for Ashford and Simpson since they were proven hit makers and them and Diana had already proven that they had great chemistry, even if the one single didn't really make any noise. ("Somethings You Never Get Used To" is still a damn good song, just not a good single.) I'm not sure Frank would've gotten a turn with Diana as lead singer, not for a full project. I think eventually the Supremes would have been A&S's group, in the same way Diana was pretty much there's for the early part of her solo career.

  3. #3
    she was already too heavily featured for the group to continue...she simply had to go. I can't even imagine this...the only way it would have worked is extensive retooling and distribution of the attention and singing.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    she was already too heavily featured for the group to continue...she simply had to go. I can't even imagine this...the only way it would have worked is extensive retooling and distribution of the attention and singing.
    Totally agree; you can't have two other people behind you who get replaced on the recordings and are reduced to making hand signs and doing oohs and ahhs at the concerts. It's very hard on everyone in those circumstances. It's no wonder Mary was pissed and never got over it for a long time.

  5. #5
    i agree,it was time for the split. BG had this in the works for a while, if ,maybe, I would give it one more year at best.

  6. #6
    well maybe then the question would work better "if Someday failed to hit big, where would the group have gone for a hit?"

  7. #7
    I always thought Diana should have stayed on for one more year and did a proper farewell tour. I would have Diana introducing Mary more on tv so the general audience would be more familiar with her so it would soften the blow once Diana is gone.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    well maybe then the question would work better "if Someday failed to hit big, where would the group have gone for a hit?"
    If Gordy was hellbent on Diana leaving the group with a hit, I would think their best bet might have been The Corporation/Clan who was obviously redhot with the J5. And again A&S would certainly be in the running since they would produce Diana's solo cuts that year.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by blackguy69 View Post
    I always thought Diana should have stayed on for one more year and did a proper farewell tour. I would have Diana introducing Mary more on tv so the general audience would be more familiar with her so it would soften the blow once Diana is gone.
    Sometimes people can remain in a situation when it's past time to move on and as a result there is a lot of suffering. Diana wanted to be a solo act. She was ready for it. I think Mary has said/written that she was ready for her to be gone so that the Supremes could move on. DRATS was pretty much Diana's pre-solo run, so Mary and Cindy were really not much more than Diana's background singers (although the three of them did do some great group numbers on television) and so the two of them couldn't progress until the group could get back to three equal parts. And Diana was never going to fly until she got rid of the girls. Her talent was too big for the group by the time she actually left. It was time for her to go. The farewell tour should've been prepared and announced as soon as Gordy made up in his mind that Diana was out in January.

    And then there's the possibility that another year together might have caused Diana and Mary to kill each other. Nobody wanted that.

  10. #10
    perhaps I Want You Back or The Love You Save would have been given to them. They are group efforts...aggressively bringing Diana this far over the period of a few short years to be the (only) focal point in everything, its unlikely that a return to group format would have even been considered. Jean was an excellent choice because she was comfortable being a lead singer within a group that was presented as a group showcase, and not a superstar within a group.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    perhaps I Want You Back or The Love You Save would have been given to them. They are group efforts...aggressively bringing Diana this far over the period of a few short years to be the (only) focal point in everything, its unlikely that a return to group format would have even been considered. Jean was an excellent choice because she was comfortable being a lead singer within a group that was presented as a group showcase, and not a superstar within a group.
    Yeah, they weren't going back. Good point about Jean. It's interesting to note that in all the talk of her being disgruntled, particularly toward the end, I haven't read anything that suggested she was on an ego trip or wanting more of the spotlight. Would there have come a point where she wanted to go solo? Maybe. Probably. But when she left in 73 I think Jean would've been content carrying on with the group at least another few years...at another label of course.

  12. #12
    IMHO, DRATS are the word for Dianaīs yearly solo years, because there were no real Supremes at this time. The group split, as Flo left and on the other hand the DRATS period helped to keep the group alive. No doubt, there are a lot of good stuff during that time.

  13. #13
    If the hits kept coming, and the $$$ were coming in from healthy record sales, they could have been more selective about road work. With the big single sales on the decline, they basically became a road act. Mary Cindy and Scherrie are proven road warriors...Jean wasn't. After 1-2 years, she most likely wanted to continue to record, and perform live steadily and regularly...but not to the excess that they were constantly on the road....enjoying performing is one thing. Long term sacrificing downtime, personal and family time isn't for everyone. Some people want to enjoy a home more than a few days every couple of weeks....and if you're not a independent performer who has final say over the scheduling, you're either all in, or you're not. Jean made the decision concerning her time she was happiest with...and it seems since then when she wants to work in entertainment, she gets involved with something.

  14. #14
    In Randy's book about Beyonce, he mentioned that Matthew Knowles (her father and manager of Destiny's Child) had the vision to allow each of the girls the opportunity to grow and develop their own talents (once the group was a trio). This allowed them to avoid some of the pitfalls that have affected so many other groups in history and certainly the Supremes. of course B was the shining star of the group but M and K had the opportunities to sing some leads and contribute. they also had some development towards their own solo aspirations.

    Then after the girls went about doing their own things, they reunited for an album.

    And KISS also did some periods of solo work and then brought the group back together further projects.

    Had mary not left the Supremes, i could see this happening. Whether it was MSC or MSS, they could align projects and timing to do both.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    In Randy's book about Beyonce, he mentioned that Matthew Knowles (her father and manager of Destiny's Child) had the vision to allow each of the girls the opportunity to grow and develop their own talents (once the group was a trio). This allowed them to avoid some of the pitfalls that have affected so many other groups in history and certainly the Supremes. of course B was the shining star of the group but M and K had the opportunities to sing some leads and contribute. they also had some development towards their own solo aspirations.

    Then after the girls went about doing their own things, they reunited for an album.

    And KISS also did some periods of solo work and then brought the group back together further projects.

    Had mary not left the Supremes, i could see this happening. Whether it was MSC or MSS, they could align projects and timing to do both.
    That's what should have happened with the original Supremes. But Gordy had tunnel vision. All he could see was what Diana could do. Some have phrased it as if Gordy didn't believe in Flo or Mary, and that might be true. It's hard to believe in a Florence who wasn't always reliable at a certain point, although one might be able to make the argument that for the first four and a half years of the Supremes career, Flo was as reliable as the others, so what part of Gordy's nonsense played a part in Flo's professional breakdown. And then it's hard to believe in a Mary that you- joking or not- once told to her face that she couldn't sing. But I'll be honest, I just don't think Gordy ever looked at them once he figured out what he wanted to do with Diana. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Gordy had the opportunity to turn three group members into three successful solo artists and instead he got rid of one, pushed another to the side and only focused on one. I'd take three checks of various sizes over just one any day. Gordy apparently not so much.

  16. #16
    I wonder if Berry was just testing Mary's compliance by saying he wanted to replace Jean with Syreeta?....Syreeta would not have been a good fit.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    I wonder if Berry was just testing Mary's compliance by saying he wanted to replace Jean with Syreeta?....Syreeta would not have been a good fit.
    Oh you betta believe that was more of Gordy's shenanigans. No way would he bring on Jean to take over Diana's spot, have her in the studio as a Supreme even before Diana left, and announces to the world that Jean was in, only to change his mind at the last minute. The Supremes would eventually reach a point at Motown where care and thought were not high priorities for the label where the group was concerned. The day after Diana left was not the point in which this happened. Everything about the Supremes was carefully planned out. If Jean wasn't a good replacement, Gordy and co would've figured that out long before the day after the last DRATS show.

    I believe he used that as a way of exonerating himself from the position of fourth Supreme now that Diana was gone. So whenever Mary complained that the group wasn't getting the attention and the perks she was used to getting from him, he could say "well you should have listened to me and went along with Syreeta". Thus he could place any downfall of the group in Mary's lap instead of his own.

    Of course this is assuming the story Mary told is true. We all know she's been known to conjure up a story or two in her books for dramatic purposes that ultimately turned out to be false. It is interesting that Gordy didn't have a history of taking his female groups' opinions into consideration regarding anything he wanted to do (Diana Ross and the Supremes included). So if the story is true and Gordy really wanted to replace Jean, I mean really replace her (my theory mentioned above excluded), he never would have asked Mary a damn thing. He would've called her up the next day and told her that he was replacing Jean with Syreeta and then promptly hung up on her. And there wouldn't have been anything she could do about it.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    I wonder if Berry was just testing Mary's compliance by saying he wanted to replace Jean with Syreeta?....Syreeta would not have been a good fit.
    Interesting, never thought of that. Just seems weird BG would do something like that after announcing jean to the world. Did JMC ready record some of right on at this point?

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post

    Of course this is assuming the story Mary told is true. We all know she's been known to conjure up a story or two in her books for dramatic purposes that ultimately turned out to be false. It is interesting that Gordy didn't have a history of taking his female groups' opinions into consideration regarding anything he wanted to do (Diana Ross and the Supremes included). So if the story is true and Gordy really wanted to replace Jean, I mean really replace her (my theory mentioned above excluded), he never would have asked Mary a damn thing. He would've called her up the next day and told her that he was replacing Jean with Syreeta and then promptly hung up on her. And there wouldn't have been anything she could do about it.
    I do recall in one of the Motown books (possibly J. Randy's) where Cindy mentioned that she had never seen Berry as angry with she and Mary as when they wanted Jean instead of Syreeta. She went on to say that they felt he had made his choice in Diana, so they had the right to choose who they wanted to move forward with. I think she placed the time as when they went back to LA after the farewell engagement, but I don't have the book in front of me.

    Now whether or not this happened as dramatically as Berry calling Mary in the middle of the night, only Mary and Berry know.

  20. #20
    Ranran I truly believe that one point they were trying to market the Supremes individually, hence More Hits and Back In My Arms Again. But then shortly before the Copa, Flo began showing her unreliable side (being replaced for a few shows) and Mary was slacking during Copa rehearsals and that's when Gordy decided to focus solely on Diana.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by floyjoy678 View Post
    Ranran I truly believe that one point they were trying to market the Supremes individually, hence More Hits and Back In My Arms Again. But then shortly before the Copa, Flo began showing her unreliable side (being replaced for a few shows) and Mary was slacking during Copa rehearsals and that's when Gordy decided to focus solely on Diana.
    only problem with that thought is that Berry was focused on Diana since one and really never gave the other girls a chance. How exactly was Mary slacking since I never read anything to suggest that and if im correct at this point the only time Flo was absent was because she was sick

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    I do recall in one of the Motown books (possibly J. Randy's) where Cindy mentioned that she had never seen Berry as angry with she and Mary as when they wanted Jean instead of Syreeta. She went on to say that they felt he had made his choice in Diana, so they had the right to choose who they wanted to move forward with. I think she placed the time as when they went back to LA after the farewell engagement, but I don't have the book in front of me.

    Now whether or not this happened as dramatically as Berry calling Mary in the middle of the night, only Mary and Berry know.
    Reese that sounds familiar so I think you may be right. Duh, because I recall Cindy saying in a book or somewhere that she and Mary didn't like Syreeta. I wonder if that was in JRandyT's book. So going back to my original theory, Gordy used the Syreeta issue to rid himself of Mary and the group, because, again, had he really wanted Syreeta, he would've replaced Jean with her and told Mary to deal with it or find something else to do with her life. And of course we know they were going to have to drag Mary kicking and screaming away from the group she helped found. She would've gone along with Syreeta in the group.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by floyjoy678 View Post
    Ranran I truly believe that one point they were trying to market the Supremes individually, hence More Hits and Back In My Arms Again. But then shortly before the Copa, Flo began showing her unreliable side (being replaced for a few shows) and Mary was slacking during Copa rehearsals and that's when Gordy decided to focus solely on Diana.
    I don't think that's really how it went Floy. Remember, not until Flo left did the Supremes really become this star and background singers kind of group. From day one, even with Diana as lead singer, the Supremes were marketed as a group. Each girl may not have been given equal time at the lead mic, but the media and the fans seemed to focus on each one pretty equal. I think Motown kept up with this pretty well until sometime in 1966 when Gordy slowly began to push for Diana to be singled out (showing up to interviews with her at one time, while Flo and Mary were brought in a bit later, etc) and even then, if you look at the interviews and press articles and stuff, Flo and Mary were still getting a lot of attention. But I don't think Gordy ever was interested in putting Flo and Mary in a position to have solo careers. I'm not sure he even saw Diana that way until he started questioning her solo abilities in 1966.

    And I'm unaware of Flo having an unreliable rep prior to 1966. It's been written that shortly before the Copa Flo was ill, but I've never seen that first Copa appearance framed by anyone as Flo being unreliable. Mary either. It was subsequent illnesses that have been speculated about for Flo.

  24. #24
    motown was definitely beginning to engineer things to focus on Diana well prior to the name change. Gordy had already been a devoted fan of Diana's since the early days. She had access to him for advice, council, mentoring way more than anyone else. and this was before WDOLG. He always felt that she had "it" and he also knew that she was a relentless workhorse. that she wasn't a silly teenager but would 110% dedicate herself to career. That drive and work ethic definitely gave her the edge

    Flo and Mary just did not have that. i'm not saying they were dumb or lazy. they were just 18, 19, 20 years old. and they (rightfully) acted that way. they were kids and wanted to be kids. just like probably all of us - i know was a fool when i was 19 lololol.

    of course Berry recognized that all 3 girls were talented and that all three had engaging personalities that worked well together and on stage. they weren't plain-jane or anonymous. But even as strong as M and F were, Diana was just maniacal about working and succeeding. she just always exploded when onstage performing.

  25. #25
    I can't even imagine Diana staying with the group after January 1970. Motown wanted to signal "the end of the sixties" in the most dramatic way possible so why not have Diana leave the group at the dawn of the '70s. It didn't help the group that they were warring when Diana left, plus the breakup with Flo just two and a half years earlier and Diana singing with the Andantes and Motown passing it off as Supremes singles, I understand Mary's anger.


  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    motown was definitely beginning to engineer things to focus on Diana well prior to the name change. Gordy had already been a devoted fan of Diana's since the early days. She had access to him for advice, council, mentoring way more than anyone else. and this was before WDOLG. He always felt that she had "it" and he also knew that she was a relentless workhorse. that she wasn't a silly teenager but would 110% dedicate herself to career. That drive and work ethic definitely gave her the edge

    Flo and Mary just did not have that. i'm not saying they were dumb or lazy. they were just 18, 19, 20 years old. and they (rightfully) acted that way. they were kids and wanted to be kids. just like probably all of us - i know was a fool when i was 19 lololol.

    of course Berry recognized that all 3 girls were talented and that all three had engaging personalities that worked well together and on stage. they weren't plain-jane or anonymous. But even as strong as M and F were, Diana was just maniacal about working and succeeding. she just always exploded when onstage performing.
    This post is perfect in describing the Supremes and especially the drive of Diana Ross. You can definitely see her determination in every performance she gave.

  27. #27
    When you think about Diana's first years as a solo artist, her sound didn't change much; still heavily relying on background vocals. Any of these could have been released as DRATS, and in cases like "Mountain", are often mistaken for them.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    I wonder if Berry was just testing Mary's compliance by saying he wanted to replace Jean with Syreeta?....Syreeta would not have been a good fit.
    I'm not sure if your opinion that Syreeta would not have been a good fit for the group is based on personality issues or that Syreeta's voice was too similar to Diana's.

  29. #29
    Some of the early albums did showcase Flo or Mary on solos. My theory is Flo would have been the next lead once Diana was pulled from the group. However, Flo was gone before Diana. Let's face it when Flo left the background sound changed in more ways than one. After Flo left Motown should have focused more on grooming Mary. Now the question remains if Mary was ready to be groomed or if Motown had the time. Unfortunately, I think the answer to those questions are no.

    Berry Gordy found Jean Terrell and I am sure if Berry wanted her removed he would have done it. If Diana stayed she would have been up against the Pointer Sisters and the Honey Cone and I think Labelle (if I can remember who was on the charts at that time correctly). Hands down I think Diana would have survived and Mary could have gotten more exposure as the lead until Diana left in another year or so.

    I can see the song "I Want You Back" going to the Supremes (with Ross) as the next single. Also, I can see "Reach and Out" as an album filler for Mary Wilson.

    Now, my other wild thought is I believe Mary really never got over Diana leaving and that she wanted the dream to go on forever.

  30. #30
    I personally think Jean was a better choice than anyone as a lead vocalist in 1970. Florence flat out, didn't have a very commercial or unique sound... and like Mary, the material that suited her well was limited. (Ain't That News suits Flo fine..my fav. FB lead) Both Jean and Scherrie had broader lead vocalist possibilities....along with DR, I can enjoyably listen to them singing lead for an entire LP... and I happen to like Mary's husky, somewhat dry and warm tone, which improved in the mid 80's....but voices like Flo's, Lynda's and Susaye's are a bit too sharp for me other than a featured LP solo.

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    I personally think Jean was a better choice than anyone as a lead vocalist in 1970. Florence flat out, didn't have a very commercial or unique sound... and like Mary, the material that suited her well was limited. (Ain't That News suits Flo fine..my fav. FB lead) Both Jean and Scherrie had broader lead vocalist possibilities....along with DR, I can enjoyably listen to them singing lead for an entire LP... and I happen to like Mary's husky, somewhat dry and warm tone, which improved in the mid 80's....but voices like Flo's, Lynda's and Susaye's are a bit too sharp for me other than a featured LP solo.
    I agree 100%; Jean had a Supremes sound, a Lou different but very similar; Florence did not have that sound. Thatís the reason that neither she or Mary found mainstream success-they did not have a commercial sound

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    motown was definitely beginning to engineer things to focus on Diana well prior to the name change. Gordy had already been a devoted fan of Diana's since the early days. She had access to him for advice, council, mentoring way more than anyone else. and this was before WDOLG. He always felt that she had "it" and he also knew that she was a relentless workhorse. that she wasn't a silly teenager but would 110% dedicate herself to career. That drive and work ethic definitely gave her the edge

    Flo and Mary just did not have that. i'm not saying they were dumb or lazy. they were just 18, 19, 20 years old. and they (rightfully) acted that way. they were kids and wanted to be kids. just like probably all of us - i know was a fool when i was 19 lololol.

    of course Berry recognized that all 3 girls were talented and that all three had engaging personalities that worked well together and on stage. they weren't plain-jane or anonymous. But even as strong as M and F were, Diana was just maniacal about working and succeeding. she just always exploded when onstage performing.
    I made the same point a year or two ago in the forum. Agree 100 percent. I think the one thing all three girls shared was that they were determined to make it. Flo came into the Primettes convinced she was vocally talented. I think even without the group she would've pursued that, be it in another group or as a solo. I'm not convinced Mary or Diana believed in their vocal abilities enough to chase that dream. But once they all made the group, I think their determination to succeed was definitely a group effort. However, I think had Flo and Mary eventually had to give up the Supremes (for whatever reason), there would've probably have been a part of them that longed for it, but ultimately they would've been happy with "normal" lives...eventually. I just can't imagine Diana that way. I think for her it was make it as a singer or suicide. Probably not that drastic, but I just think she knew her happy was in singing success. I can't imagine that she would've ever been happy being someone's wife and mother and doing that happy homemaker life. Maybe she would have gone into something else like a beautician or fashion designer, something in the arts for sure. But for her it was really singing or bust. Gordy recognized that and so he put all of his eggs in the basket marked Diana. I just think it was dumb not to put a few in the baskets marked Flo and Mary.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by marybrewster View Post
    When you think about Diana's first years as a solo artist, her sound didn't change much; still heavily relying on background vocals. Any of these could have been released as DRATS, and in cases like "Mountain", are often mistaken for them.
    That's a very good point.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by captainjames View Post
    Some of the early albums did showcase Flo or Mary on solos. My theory is Flo would have been the next lead once Diana was pulled from the group. However, Flo was gone before Diana. Let's face it when Flo left the background sound changed in more ways than one. After Flo left Motown should have focused more on grooming Mary. Now the question remains if Mary was ready to be groomed or if Motown had the time. Unfortunately, I think the answer to those questions are no.
    I think had Flo stayed through the DRATS period, she probably would've been made lead singer too. I imagine the group would've gotten funkier with Flo as lead and taking into account a lot of the changing music scene at the time. But with Flo gone, I think it made great sense to groom Mary for more of the spotlight. Gordy knew the DRATS period was going to last about as long as it did. It was not meant to be four or five years long. So the moment he changed the name, Flo was out, Cindy was in, and Diana was officially being groomed for solo stardom, someone should have been charged with preparing Mary for a lead role, that way the transition would be easier. Of course the transition ultimately proved to be pretty smooth because Jean was just fantastic and I think vocally she brought to the group some of the same qualities that Diana did.
    Last edited by RanRan79; 04-18-2019 at 11:25 AM.

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by captainjames View Post
    Now, my other wild thought is I believe Mary really never got over Diana leaving and that she wanted the dream to go on forever.
    As for Mary not wanting Diana to leave, I think what she never got over was Diana's shenanigans coupled with the fact that once Diana was gone, Diana didn't say "Hey Mary, I know the last couple years wasn't easy, and I may be gone, but you still my girl" and instead Diana was basically like "Bye bitch" and walked out of her life. Remember Mary already had issues stemming from the situation with her mother and all of that. It was the relationship Mary never wanted out of, but I believe she wanted Diana out of the group at that point. Too much had happened. I do agree that if Mary could've had it her way, she, Flo and Diana would've remained a group forever.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    I personally think Jean was a better choice than anyone as a lead vocalist in 1970. Florence flat out, didn't have a very commercial or unique sound... and like Mary, the material that suited her well was limited. (Ain't That News suits Flo fine..my fav. FB lead) Both Jean and Scherrie had broader lead vocalist possibilities....along with DR, I can enjoyably listen to them singing lead for an entire LP... and I happen to like Mary's husky, somewhat dry and warm tone, which improved in the mid 80's....but voices like Flo's, Lynda's and Susaye's are a bit too sharp for me other than a featured LP solo.
    completely agree. Flo has a very nice voice. but the small amount of lead vocals we have from her don't necessarily indicate that there was a huge wasted opportunity here. And to be fair, she wasn't given nearly the opportunities in the studio to grow, learn and experiment as Diana was. so who knows how she might have developed or grown.

    and mary herself says there is a HUGE difference in singing lead and being a lead singer of a group. Diana was masterful is that she was amazing in the studio with her versatility, phrasing and emotion PLUS she was adept at handling her role as "mistress of the ceremonies." I don't know that the other girls had that stage command. M and F were wonderful entertainers I'll agree but i feel they worked well within the group setting.

    Jean, from what little videos and audios we have, was decent in leading on the stage but there are the stories where she didn't have the command or presence either

  37. #37
    I don’t think folks are taking into account that Mary’s husky alto is not made for pop radio at all. No amount of grooming could make her a Supremes lead singer because her sound doesn’t work on their records. Ballads, yes. Baby Love? No. Also, Mary had been on stage for yeArs including a lot of the talking in the 70s, yet still behaved like a silly, giggly teenager in interviews. I absolutely disagree with anyone who feels there was pop/r&b solo stardom for Mary unless she could get Roberta Flacks material from her.
    Let’s face it: MARY couldn’t make Mary a Star. Without the book, I don’t think she would’ve had much of a solo career at all. That’s when she started to get a name for herself. For years she was trying to build herself as a young Tina turner and didn’t have since enough to look at her strengths and see where a fortune could possibly be made until it was too late to launch anything on any grand scale. Her performance in for sophisticated ladies music was quite wonderful but it took her 25 years to do that.
    Mary had plenty of exposure in the industry, there’s no reason to blame Barry Gordy…… Any Mogul could’ve picked her up and made her a star…… If she was star material and someone believed in her. I think it’s questionable logic to assume that Barry Gordy or anyone could make solo stars out of people they did not see potential in. There would be no passion behind it…… I think in creating a historic icon in the music industry was the right choice.
    I adored Flo, but she was too ghetto for what Berry wanted for the group. Her grammar was bad “I had me a few drinks before the show” is not the face Berry was going to put out in civil rights mired 1965. Not at the Copa, Eden Roc, Vegas, the Fairmont or Coconut Grove. In the 70s and 80s it was different, but there were still separate drinking fountains when where did our love go hit - Gordy wisely took no chances and aired on the side of caution when pushing his group to obliterate the color line. Personally, I would have followed Florence Ballard as the lead singer of any group or as a solo because I loved her so damn much. Even if I didn’t like her vocals, I loved her. He owed them nothing. 99.9999999% of groups never sell a record, and although it’s a shame that unhappiness was a result, I honestly believe they should have been happy and grateful. I do not believe that Florence would ever have been made lead singer…… But I do believe she might have been featured more after ross left, maybe not. I don’t think Jean Terrel would’ve cared for Florence having solos.

    I absolutely believe Berry wanted Jean out as and when Mary said. Both Mary and Cindy told me various times about the friction between the two. Jean had no intention of being another Diana and that’s what Berry was looking for. She wanted to lead The Supremes, not ape DR. Berry wanted her to loosen up on stage, sing more with a pop sound and she resisted. I think when he saw her on stage with DMC he did not see the star he was looking for and, coupled with her obstinacy, wanted Syreeta in. I can totally see it without knowing the backstage drama. Jean was matronly and, Berry was right: she did not catch on and, in spite of hit records, lots of TV and incessant touring, the group did a slow decline right from the Get-go. I’m not knocking Jean as a talent, but, she wasn’t the jewel the public was used to shining in the group. The Supremes needed that shine.

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    I don’t think folks are taking into account that Mary’s husky alto is not made for pop radio at all. No amount of grooming could make her a Supremes lead singer because her sound doesn’t work on their records. Ballads, yes. Baby Love? No. Also, Mary had been on stage for yeArs including a lot of the talking in the 70s, yet still behaved like a silly, giggly teenager in interviews. I absolutely disagree with anyone who feels there was pop/r&b solo stardom for Mary unless she could get Roberta Flacks material from her.
    Let’s face it: MARY couldn’t make Mary a Star. Without the book, I don’t think she would’ve had much of a solo career at all. That’s when she started to get a name for herself. For years she was trying to build herself as a young Tina turner and didn’t have since enough to look at her strengths and see where a fortune could possibly be made until it was too late to launch anything on any grand scale. Her performance in for sophisticated ladies music was quite wonderful but it took her 25 years to do that.
    Mary had plenty of exposure in the industry, there’s no reason to blame Barry Gordy…… Any Mogul could’ve picked her up and made her a star…… If she was star material and someone believed in her. I think it’s questionable logic to assume that Barry Gordy or anyone could make solo stars out of people they did not see potential in. There would be no passion behind it…… I think in creating a historic icon in the music industry was the right choice.
    I adored Flo, but she was too ghetto for what Berry wanted for the group. Her grammar was bad “I had me a few drinks before the show” is not the face Berry was going to put out in civil rights mired 1965. Not at the Copa, Eden Roc, Vegas, the Fairmont or Coconut Grove. In the 70s and 80s it was different, but there were still separate drinking fountains when where did our love go hit - Gordy wisely took no chances and aired on the side of caution when pushing his group to obliterate the color line. Personally, I would have followed Florence Ballard as the lead singer of any group or as a solo because I loved her so damn much. Even if I didn’t like her vocals, I loved her. He owed them nothing. 99.9999999% of groups never sell a record, and although it’s a shame that unhappiness was a result, I honestly believe they should have been happy and grateful. I do not believe that Florence would ever have been made lead singer…… But I do believe she might have been featured more after ross left, maybe not. I don’t think Jean Terrel would’ve cared for Florence having solos.

    I absolutely believe Berry wanted Jean out as and when Mary said. Both Mary and Cindy told me various times about the friction between the two. Jean had no intention of being another Diana and that’s what Berry was looking for. She wanted to lead The Supremes, not ape DR. Berry wanted her to loosen up on stage, sing more with a pop sound and she resisted. I think when he saw her on stage with DMC he did not see the star he was looking for and, coupled with her obstinacy, wanted Syreeta in. I can totally see it without knowing the backstage drama. Jean was matronly and, Berry was right: she did not catch on and, in spite of hit records, lots of TV and incessant touring, the group did a slow decline right from the Get-go. I’m not knocking Jean as a talent, but, she wasn’t the jewel the public was used to shining in the group. The Supremes needed that shine.
    I have to disagree. Seeing Roberta Flack make it big with her vocals could have made it possible for Mary to succeed on pop radio

  39. #39
    ^i believe what Motown is saying is that IF mary had had Roberta's material, perhaps it would have hit. however just 1 listen to Roberta's First Time I Ever Saw Your Face or Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow reveals a true magic for lyrical interpretation and phrasing. Mary just doesn't have it to that level. had she had Last Time it would probably not have been the hit that Roberta had with it. The released one is simply stunning.

  40. #40
    That was my point - If Mary could get her material, she might have had a chance, but, Roberta is a much better singer with a much better voice - especially for radio, don’t forget. My point is that the slots on pop radio for that type of ballad are few, and Mary might have hit with some of Roberta’s material, but Roberta is more expressive, nuanced and plaintive in her vocals than even Mary is today. I’ll say this again: it’s not as if Mary has been kept locked away in a vault, she was featured in most every supreme show, on AGoGo, Hollywood Palace etc..... every record label would be keenly aware of her talent – especially when ross was leaving the group and it would’ve been a good time for them to snatch someone from the group at the same time…… There were no takers…… Really the only moguls who feel tat Mary had the goods to hit are on this forum and not behind the desk at Atlantic, Warner’s or Columbia. Or Geffen. Or Arista. or................

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    I don’t think folks are taking into account that Mary’s husky alto is not made for pop radio at all. No amount of grooming could make her a Supremes lead singer because her sound doesn’t work on their records. Ballads, yes. Baby Love? No. Also, Mary had been on stage for yeArs including a lot of the talking in the 70s, yet still behaved like a silly, giggly teenager in interviews. I absolutely disagree with anyone who feels there was pop/r&b solo stardom for Mary unless she could get Roberta Flacks material from her.
    Let’s face it: MARY couldn’t make Mary a Star. Without the book, I don’t think she would’ve had much of a solo career at all. That’s when she started to get a name for herself. For years she was trying to build herself as a young Tina turner and didn’t have since enough to look at her strengths and see where a fortune could possibly be made until it was too late to launch anything on any grand scale. Her performance in for sophisticated ladies music was quite wonderful but it took her 25 years to do that.
    Mary had plenty of exposure in the industry, there’s no reason to blame Barry Gordy…… Any Mogul could’ve picked her up and made her a star…… If she was star material and someone believed in her. I think it’s questionable logic to assume that Barry Gordy or anyone could make solo stars out of people they did not see potential in. There would be no passion behind it…… I think in creating a historic icon in the music industry was the right choice.
    I adored Flo, but she was too ghetto for what Berry wanted for the group. Her grammar was bad “I had me a few drinks before the show” is not the face Berry was going to put out in civil rights mired 1965. Not at the Copa, Eden Roc, Vegas, the Fairmont or Coconut Grove. In the 70s and 80s it was different, but there were still separate drinking fountains when where did our love go hit - Gordy wisely took no chances and aired on the side of caution when pushing his group to obliterate the color line. Personally, I would have followed Florence Ballard as the lead singer of any group or as a solo because I loved her so damn much. Even if I didn’t like her vocals, I loved her. He owed them nothing. 99.9999999% of groups never sell a record, and although it’s a shame that unhappiness was a result, I honestly believe they should have been happy and grateful. I do not believe that Florence would ever have been made lead singer…… But I do believe she might have been featured more after ross left, maybe not. I don’t think Jean Terrel would’ve cared for Florence having solos.

    I absolutely believe Berry wanted Jean out as and when Mary said. Both Mary and Cindy told me various times about the friction between the two. Jean had no intention of being another Diana and that’s what Berry was looking for. She wanted to lead The Supremes, not ape DR. Berry wanted her to loosen up on stage, sing more with a pop sound and she resisted. I think when he saw her on stage with DMC he did not see the star he was looking for and, coupled with her obstinacy, wanted Syreeta in. I can totally see it without knowing the backstage drama. Jean was matronly and, Berry was right: she did not catch on and, in spite of hit records, lots of TV and incessant touring, the group did a slow decline right from the Get-go. I’m not knocking Jean as a talent, but, she wasn’t the jewel the public was used to shining in the group. The Supremes needed that shine.
    What a great post. What you say makes total sense. Perhaps the best summing up of the Supremes that i have ever seen on this forum. I salute you my friend!

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    ^i believe what Motown is saying is that IF mary had had Roberta's material, perhaps it would have hit. however just 1 listen to Roberta's First Time I Ever Saw Your Face or Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow reveals a true magic for lyrical interpretation and phrasing. Mary just doesn't have it to that level. had she had Last Time it would probably not have been the hit that Roberta had with it. The released one is simply stunning.
    Agreed. Mary was no Roberta in the vocal stakes. Roberta had a unique way of interpreting lyrics. She lived and breathed some of those emotional songs. It would be akin to the Spice Girls trying to compete with the Supremes.

  43. #43
    In my opinion Mary has a very nice voice, but not one that was gonna make her a pop superstar. I can definitively see success in the R&B/Soul field though... a string of nice albums, some lovely ballads, a few decent hits... just a shame that didn't quite happen really.

  44. #44
    You simply have to like a performers range and style....then you make friends with the material. Every one of the Supremes had talent and good looks....perhaps not the "rope 'em in, and slay them" appeal DR had...lets face it, she had the unique talent, and discipline and drive to be in it for the long haul...a lifetime. And the stars and planets must have lined up perfectly for her to have crossed paths with Berry, who was looking for ONE individual Super-star.
    Jean was of course given a golden opportunity. She had to have a lot of confidence and nerves of steel to even consider the role offered her. She must have been very comfortable with Cindy and Mary, and their encouragement most likely made the job easier for her.
    I respect her for not selling out to fit a over the top image she didn't feel in touch with just to become a company founder / big boss favorite. She got the job done nicely, and maintained her integrity. And she provided ME with many of my favorite Supremes cuts.

  45. #45
    From 1970 to 1972, Jean did a great job; Iím not sure anyone expected she would be so successful

    It seems like tastes changed then and that gown wearing choreographed style looked old; many Motown acts slipped; and maybe the albums didnít sell which caused the money to decline, management to change and infighting to start

    By 1972 they needed a new look and style and tinkering with the sound; but obviously, from a success point of view, they didnít need Touch or Jimmy Webb

  46. #46
    I think the constant road work got to Jean...when the big singles stop coming, the company earned $ was made in the live performances. If she was a salaried employee, not having a periodic large royalty check accompanying all the traveling probably made sacrificing a personal life look like a bad deal...and since there was no guarantee of a few big hits to eventually break the constant touring cycle, she just waited out her contract instead of committing herself for another few years.

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by TomatoTom123 View Post
    In my opinion Mary has a very nice voice, but not one that was gonna make her a pop superstar. I can definitively see success in the R&B/Soul field though... a string of nice albums, some lovely ballads, a few decent hits... just a shame that didn't quite happen really.
    Yup. She was never gonna be Diana Ross, but she should have had a nice catalog of music with some hits sprinkled in between.

  48. #48
    I don't buy this "commercial" voice stuff. No fan of music anywhere at any time has said upon hearing a song for the first time, "Hey, I like this song. The lead singer's voice is so...commercial." Either fans like a voice or they don't. And liking a voice will not guarantee that the song the voice is trying to sell will be a hit. Obviously some record execs have their ideas about who they feel will make the most money, and sometimes they're right and other times they're wrong, but fans don't care about that crap. Diana Ross had the goods and yet it seems like at least half her solo product never performed up to her name. I can't argue with anyone who dislikes Mary's voice or anyone who thinks she had the ability to be on Diana's level if given the opportunity. I happen to think Mary has a pleasant voice that could've sold some records over the years, but she wasn't superstar material. I LOVE Flo's voice. Honestly it's her voice that attracted me to the Supremes, not so much Diana Ross, although obviously I am a huge Ross fan. But I can love Flo's voice, believe she didn't get a fair shake, and still hold the opinion that she too was not superstar material. Music is subjective. I don't buy terms like "commercial".

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    You simply have to like a performers range and style....then you make friends with the material. Every one of the Supremes had talent and good looks....perhaps not the "rope 'em in, and slay them" appeal DR had...lets face it, she had the unique talent, and discipline and drive to be in it for the long haul...a lifetime. And the stars and planets must have lined up perfectly for her to have crossed paths with Berry, who was looking for ONE individual Super-star.
    Jean was of course given a golden opportunity. She had to have a lot of confidence and nerves of steel to even consider the role offered her. She must have been very comfortable with Cindy and Mary, and their encouragement most likely made the job easier for her.
    I respect her for not selling out to fit a over the top image she didn't feel in touch with just to become a company founder / big boss favorite. She got the job done nicely, and maintained her integrity. And she provided ME with many of my favorite Supremes cuts.
    Agreed. I wish Jean had continued seriously with a solo career after leaving the Supremes. To think of all the great stuff we missed out on...

  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    I think the constant road work got to Jean...when the big singles stop coming, the company earned $ was made in the live performances. If she was a salaried employee, not having a periodic large royalty check accompanying all the traveling probably made sacrificing a personal life look like a bad deal...and since there was no guarantee of a few big hits to eventually break the constant touring cycle, she just waited out her contract instead of committing herself for another few years.
    May have elements of truth here but it's also long established that Jean couldn't stand Mary.

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