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  1. #1

    interesting article - early 70s downturn in Vegas lounges and 70s Supremes

    we've talked at great length about the struggles the 70s Supremes had. we know that they had a multi-year deal with the Frontier that continued (i believe) through end of 71 or early 72. then it was not renewed.

    most of us have assumed the issue was the decline in the group's popularity, lack of motown support, etc

    but while researching the chart data in Billboard, i ran across this article regarding the strain Vegas lounges. this is from Sept 71 and discusses how MANY top hotels were closing their showrooms, reducing the number of stages, etc. Now the Supremes are not specifically mentioned and most of the acts that are, are the rather minor ones. But it certainly brings up an interesting point. Perhaps the overall economics of Vegas in the early 70s played a significant role in the Sups loosing that prime venue. And combined with their decline in popularity.

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  2. #2
    Unfortunately images are too small for me to be able to read.

  3. #3
    Diana appeared for the first time as a solo act in Vegas at the Frontière hotel on May 7, 1970.
    The act was, as described in Billboard.


    DIANA ROSS
    Now Grove, Los Angeles
    “Reach out and touch someone,” Miss Ross sang and that one song dramatizes her effect on audiences as a solo performer. She gets to them in a forceful, “Right On, Black is Beautiful” style.
    Her debut program here July 30 is the same show with which she recently performed at the Frontier in Las Vegas. In her local appearance she demonstrates that she has emerged as a well rounded pop vocalist.
    The strength and clarity of her voice is clearly heard, uncluttered or covered by the “ooh-aahs” of previous experiences. She holds notes nicely when that is required as on the closing of “Mame.”
    Her act is loaded with material and there are eight costume changes and two male dancers to help with the action during off stage moments. Three girl vocalists (called the Black Berries) add little shouting riffs and fills, with “Ain't No Mountain High Enough" a fast workout for all the voices.
    Miss Ross' own very funny version of “Is That All There Is” (combined with bobs and weaves) was a good contrast in her ability to be tight and then move into
    “Somethin’s On My Mind,” a love song which she did with a lot of soul. In offering a medley of Supremes hits she rekindled memories, and when she did “Doin' What Comes Naturally,” it was a sexy, soulful experience. Her version of “My Man” was superbly tender and meaningful. The 30 piece George Rhodes orchestra, led by her director Marvin Laird, grooved right along.
    ELIOT TIEGEL - Billboard 1970
    In 1973, she signed a deal to perform every year at Caesar Palace.
    Last edited by Albator; 02-01-2020 at 04:11 AM.

  4. #4
    Around '75 '76 I was in Vegas delivering a piano to one of the casinos. The main floors of the casinos had small stage settings with acts performing that you could just wonder in , have a drink and watch at your leisure. At this one , blaring out from the free stage, I took a moment to listen to BB King.

  5. #5
    Great question Sup. The supper club/lounge circuit, I suspect, was probably dating itself by the 1970s. For the Supremes, it probably hurt to lose some of the action and not be able to compensate. They never abandoned the Vegas style act, which would not have gone over well with the arena crowd in the 70s, I'm betting. After 1971 the group just wasn't having the hits it once did, so there probably wasn't much interest in booking them even as opening acts on sellout world tours and such. So much of what went wrong with the Supremes around 1972 was their inability- or flat out refusal- to change with the times.

    Diana, on the other hand, still excelled in this world because of the type of performer she was. She was an attraction even without a current hit. In fact I'd go so far as to suggest that if Diana had never gotten a solo hit that she would've still been an extremely popular live act, particularly in the Vegas type of atmosphere.

  6. #6
    ^agreed Ran

    I think the Vegas contract can certainly be tied to a lack of hits for the group and this downturn in the industry in Vegas. If managers were looking to make cuts, they'd pick an act that wasn't performing as well

    I think Lady Sings The Blues is what catapulted Diana even further. had this not occurred or had it not been a huge success, who know what might have played out. Her records were not doing tons better in 70 and 71, really. would public interest and support have started to die away?

    with Lady, she completely reinvented herself, showed a huge range of emotions and vulnerability in the role, was magical on the recordings. This all combined to create huge public interest, magazine articles, interviews, concert ticket sales, etc. And of course motown and berry was there to support the whole thing

    i'm not sure what the Supremes could have done to counter their decline.

    i've often wondered why the Sups couldn't have continued on as the Pointer Sisters did. in 1976 they were asked to record the "pinball song" on Sesame Street, they were frequent guest stars on tv shows. they had some decent pop hits in the mid 70s - top 40. then exploded in 1980. Interesting that they were sought after but a group with the legacy and fame of Supremes, wasn't

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post

    I think Lady Sings The Blues is what catapulted Diana even further. had this not occurred or had it not been a huge success, who know what might have played out. Her records were not doing tons better in 70 and 71, really. would public interest and support have started to die away?
    I believe with the tools she learned during the DRATS years, Diana was more than a singles artist. Remove the hit movies and the hit singles and you still have this force of entertainment nature. I can imagine Diana's talents being well suited to being an in demand Vegas act, such as Lola Falana, and getting regular bookings on tv variety shows and specials. Diana Ross as hit maker post Supremes wasn't a guarantee, but I think her ability to wow crowds was something to bet money on.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    i'm not sure what the Supremes could have done to counter their decline.

    i've often wondered why the Sups couldn't have continued on as the Pointer Sisters did. in 1976 they were asked to record the "pinball song" on Sesame Street, they were frequent guest stars on tv shows. they had some decent pop hits in the mid 70s - top 40. then exploded in 1980. Interesting that they were sought after but a group with the legacy and fame of Supremes, wasn't
    In these conversations there are sometimes those who bring Diana Ross into it as a way to discount anyone else who has ever been an official Supreme. However, I think it is important to recognize that with Diana they were the standard to which every female group after would be measured. Without her, to many people, they were just another female group, with all due respect to the great Jean Terrell, of course. As I posted in another thread, Mary recalls that not only was she the least known of the original trio, but at certain point it was believed by many that no original Supremes were even in the group. So I imagine to people in the business, why focus on a has been group, with a has been image, when one could bank on hipper, more recently successful acts like the Pointer Sisters.

    I think the Pointers gimic at the time did wonders for their visibility. Plus they had big names in their corner like Carol Burnett. And of course their music was relevant and popular. The Supremes couldn't compete with the other groups at this point, I don't believe. The time to save them was before Jean and Lynda exited. Once those two were gone, without serious attention from powerful people in the business, MSC, and then MSS, didn't have much of a prayer. Add to that my belief that the style of music wasn't what the public wanted or expected from the Supremes, and it's not shocking that the group just went down.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post

    i'm not sure what the Supremes could have done to counter their decline.

    i've often wondered why the Sups couldn't have continued on as the Pointer Sisters did. in 1976 they were asked to record the "pinball song" on Sesame Street, they were frequent guest stars on tv shows. they had some decent pop hits in the mid 70s - top 40. then exploded in 1980. Interesting that they were sought after but a group with the legacy and fame of Supremes, wasn't
    I don't know either. I do know that the Supremes had more Billboard Top 40 hits than any other female group on Earth in the 70s. So, it wasn't them or the public that had a problem.......

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    we've talked at great length about the struggles the 70s Supremes had. we know that they had a multi-year deal with the Frontier that continued (i believe) through end of 71 or early 72. then it was not renewed.

    most of us have assumed the issue was the decline in the group's popularity, lack of motown support, etc

    but while researching the chart data in Billboard, i ran across this article regarding the strain Vegas lounges. this is from Sept 71 and discusses how MANY top hotels were closing their showrooms, reducing the number of stages, etc. Now the Supremes are not specifically mentioned and most of the acts that are, are the rather minor ones. But it certainly brings up an interesting point. Perhaps the overall economics of Vegas in the early 70s played a significant role in the Sups loosing that prime venue. And combined with their decline in popularity.

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    The Supremes never played lounges and no showrooms, to my knowledge closed on the strip until the 80s. Vegas is an entertainment island are all unto its own. People want to see stars there. The Temptations had a ton of hits they were not a Vegas act. Gladys got a some shots but they didn’t really pan out and there is no denying her incredible talent. Later on, as they are one of a better word classic act, she did fairly well at the Flamingo. The 70s Supremes were talented singers but they didn’t have a star and it doesn’t matter how many hit record you have and it doesn’t matter anything else… in Vegas people want to see stars. Also, as the years wore on, their show was very hit and miss with audiences. Several times in Chicago, Nathan Jones and Floy joy received very tepid responses And to my surprise, they were no longer doing river deep which I thought was a great live song ....I think they just didn’t have an identity anymore and they didn’t have a star attraction. Ross hasn’t had a hit in 34 years and still draws. It’s not her talent - it’s HER. I do believe if JMC had an act that worked for them, they might have found a home in Vegas, and its a shame it didn’t happen for them cuz with their pedigree, one would think it would be easier for them. I believe if Ross had stayed at the Frontier, Motown might have been able to force them to take JMC as well, but going to Caesars was a natch and 3 years overdue.

  11. #11
    all great points guys. such a mystery

    like why didn't the 70s sups ever appear on Carol Burnett? seems like they were still invited onto variety shows and specials, but that was slowing down by 72. On the tv show Good Times, Thelma had a pic of MJL on her wall. what a cool idea if they did a dream sequence or something with the Sups as guest stars? i mean, why not? Diana guest starred on Make Room For Granddaddy. They needed to have more presence on tv and in a variety of ways

    Interesting that you mention NJ and FJ barely getting much response live. Also heard that when the girls were on Operation PUSH, they got a very cold reception from the crowd as they were doing their "Vegas" act.

    And then Vegas wasn't really wanting their act either.

    Maybe it was that there wasn't enough of a "star" attraction with them. Diana most certainly knows how to put on an extravaganza. her shows in mid-late 70s were so over the top with mimes, dancers, disco, etc. The sups added some nice but little flourishes to their show. I do think the Genie idea was cute and a nice new idea (especially for Vegas-like gigs) but the rest of the show was pretty mundane. nothing new or exciting. They needed something bigger and newer.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    I don't know either. I do know that the Supremes had more Billboard Top 40 hits than any other female group on Earth in the 70s. So, it wasn't them or the public that had a problem.......
    While it's true that the 70s Supremes had more hits-single for single- than any other female group that decade, it's disingenuous to recite that without context.

    During the 70s, the Supremes had five top 10 r&b hits, one of which went to #1. They had three additional top 40 hits. They had 2 top 10 pop hits, plus six additional top 40 hits. Two of their albums went top 10 r&b, while 8 other albums went top 40 r&b. They only had one top 40 pop album that entire decade.

    In comparison:

    Labelle only had 3 r&b top 10 hits, and one of those was the massively successful "Lady Marmalade", which not only hit #1 r&b, but also #1 pop. They reached the r&b top 40 two more times. Two of their albums hit the top 10 r&b, and one of them hit the top 10 pop. They had one gold and one platinum album.

    Love Unlimited lacked the Supremes singles success (2 r&b top 10s, one of which was #1, no pop top 10), but they did score a top 10 pop album, which the 70s Supremes failed to do, or even come close.

    The Three Degrees had 4 r&b top 10 hits, one of which hit #1. They hit #1 pop also and had an additional top 10 pop hit.

    The Pointer Sisters hit the top 10 of the r&b chart once and that song went #1. They hit the pop top 10 once. Three albums went top 10 r&b, and three albums went gold.

    The Emotions hit the r&b top 10 4 times, one of which went #1. They had two pop top 10s, also one went #1. They had one r&b top 10 album and one pop top 10 album.

    The 70s Supremes' biggest single was "Stoned Love", and that song doesn't even come close to the impact that Labelle's "Lady Marmalade", The 3 Ds "When Will I See You Again", The Pointers "Fire" or the Emotions "Best Of My Love" has on the public's memory today. Plus the 70s Supremes' greatest success occurred in the first two years of the decade. Most of these other ladies hit big after the public ceased to care about the Supremes, and make no mistake about it, the public definitely moved on. There was a problem: it's called The Supremes.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    The Supremes never played lounges and no showrooms, to my knowledge closed on the strip until the 80s. Vegas is an entertainment island are all unto its own. People want to see stars there. The Temptations had a ton of hits they were not a Vegas act. Gladys got a some shots but they didn’t really pan out and there is no denying her incredible talent. Later on, as they are one of a better word classic act, she did fairly well at the Flamingo. The 70s Supremes were talented singers but they didn’t have a star and it doesn’t matter how many hit record you have and it doesn’t matter anything else… in Vegas people want to see stars. Also, as the years wore on, their show was very hit and miss with audiences. Several times in Chicago, Nathan Jones and Floy joy received very tepid responses And to my surprise, they were no longer doing river deep which I thought was a great live song ....I think they just didn’t have an identity anymore and they didn’t have a star attraction. Ross hasn’t had a hit in 34 years and still draws. It’s not her talent - it’s HER. I do believe if JMC had an act that worked for them, they might have found a home in Vegas, and its a shame it didn’t happen for them cuz with their pedigree, one would think it would be easier for them. I believe if Ross had stayed at the Frontier, Motown might have been able to force them to take JMC as well, but going to Caesars was a natch and 3 years overdue.
    The Supremes made the Vegas rounds well into the 70s. What makes you think they weren't on that circuit? And the article Sup posted from 1971 apparently says that some of these venues were already downsizing and or shuttering altogether well before the 80s.

    Vegas is all about the act. Wayne Newton, while having had an occasional big hit, was never some hugely famous act before he made Vegas his home. It was that certain something that lent itself to the atmosphere of Vegas. Same with Lola Falana. There's an excitement that exists (or existed) that put butts in the seats night after night after night. I don't think the 70s Supremes had the spark necessary to be a hugely popular Vegas act. The fact that, at a certain point, reviews from fans and others suggest that the live act became increasingly boring and then annoyingly erratic, the group was too disastrous to be looked at for long term spots, although apparently they sometimes managed to book them anyway.

    Overall though, it's impossible to maintain a star position when your music isn't resonating with the public. The Supremes without Diana Ross were an entirely new group with an old name. They didn't have much of a resume without citing the hits with Diana and Flo. On their own, the 70s Supremes were a group with 2 pop top 10 hits in 1970. They were no longer on top of anything.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    all great points guys. such a mystery

    like why didn't the 70s sups ever appear on Carol Burnett? seems like they were still invited onto variety shows and specials, but that was slowing down by 72. On the tv show Good Times, Thelma had a pic of MJL on her wall. what a cool idea if they did a dream sequence or something with the Sups as guest stars? i mean, why not? Diana guest starred on Make Room For Granddaddy. They needed to have more presence on tv and in a variety of ways

    Interesting that you mention NJ and FJ barely getting much response live. Also heard that when the girls were on Operation PUSH, they got a very cold reception from the crowd as they were doing their "Vegas" act.

    And then Vegas wasn't really wanting their act either.

    Maybe it was that there wasn't enough of a "star" attraction with them. Diana most certainly knows how to put on an extravaganza. her shows in mid-late 70s were so over the top with mimes, dancers, disco, etc. The sups added some nice but little flourishes to their show. I do think the Genie idea was cute and a nice new idea (especially for Vegas-like gigs) but the rest of the show was pretty mundane. nothing new or exciting. They needed something bigger and newer.
    Here's where having a great manager comes in. Booking gigs on TV and such is what a good manager would do. Figuring out how to capitalize on something like Thelma hanging a photo of the girls in her room is what a good manager would do. And I believe the folks behind Good Times would not have objected. I can imagine an episode where a fictional female group (played by the Supremes, of course) comes back to the projects where they are from (a nod to Mary and the original Supremes), maybe to lend support to an old neighbor or something, and perform their latest hit ("Bad Weather"?).

    The most innovative idea that it seems anyone in the group's camp had was the Supremes wig line. That was a great idea. Why it never took off, I can only imagine was probably poor mismanagement and maybe poor execution.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    all great points guys. such a mystery

    like why didn't the 70s sups ever appear on Carol Burnett? seems like they were still invited onto variety shows and specials, but that was slowing down by 72. On the tv show Good Times, Thelma had a pic of MJL on her wall. what a cool idea if they did a dream sequence or something with the Sups as guest stars? i mean, why not? Diana guest starred on Make Room For Granddaddy. They needed to have more presence on tv and in a variety of ways

    Interesting that you mention NJ and FJ barely getting much response live. Also heard that when the girls were on Operation PUSH, they got a very cold reception from the crowd as they were doing their "Vegas" act.

    And then Vegas wasn't really wanting their act either.

    Maybe it was that there wasn't enough of a "star" attraction with them. Diana most certainly knows how to put on an extravaganza. her shows in mid-late 70s were so over the top with mimes, dancers, disco, etc. The sups added some nice but little flourishes to their show. I do think the Genie idea was cute and a nice new idea (especially for Vegas-like gigs) but the rest of the show was pretty mundane. nothing new or exciting. They needed something bigger and newer.
    It's almost like you're grasping now to try to come up with why you feel the Supremes themselves "declined" (which they didn't. Each and every one of the women that were in the Supremes were sounding and looking great well into the 80s_) Why they weren't on the Carol Burnett Show? Really? The Supremes in the 70s were on television a lot! I know, because I was around then and watch them on everything from the Pearl Baily Show to the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. They did quite a bit of television work in the 70s. Why did so many great acts leave Motown in the 70s?

    I also cannot understand how you can totally fail to consider that Motown was investing a lot of money in Diana Ross' extravaganza's and not in any of the other acts signed to Motown during those years. Some people may need mimes, 9-10 costume changes, dance troupe's, etc to cover for the fact that their singing ability is extremely limited live.
    Last edited by marv2; 02-06-2020 at 06:09 PM.

  16. #16
    In the late 90s & 2000s I had to attend Vegas conventionstwice a year. Every time I’d make my sad, fanboy pilgrimage to the Frontierbecause “that’s where the final performance was”. By then it was a rundown lowprice tourist haunt with cheap beer, mechanical steer riding & “dirty girlswrestling in mud”. But, you know, right up to it’s detonation it still held alittle shred of magic and glamour for me. That Supreme magic sure does last.And please, please someone release a video of that final concert!

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Here's where having a great manager comes in. Booking gigs on TV and such is what a good manager would do. Figuring out how to capitalize on something like Thelma hanging a photo of the girls in her room is what a good manager would do. And I believe the folks behind Good Times would not have objected. I can imagine an episode where a fictional female group (played by the Supremes, of course) comes back to the projects where they are from (a nod to Mary and the original Supremes), maybe to lend support to an old neighbor or something, and perform their latest hit ("Bad Weather"?).

    The most innovative idea that it seems anyone in the group's camp had was the Supremes wig line. That was a great idea. Why it never took off, I can only imagine was probably poor mismanagement and maybe poor execution.
    i think the wig idea fizzled because the group was breaking up. wasn't the wig line announced in spring 73? they did the commercials and there's a brief mention on Mike Douglas when they did SL and IGIMTM. got some notices in reviews and articles at the time.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    It's almost like you're grasping now to try to come up with why you feel the Supremes themselves "declined" (which they didn't. Each and every one of the women that were in the Supremes were sounding and looking great well into the 80s_) Why they weren't on the Carol Burnett Show? Really? The Supremes in the 70s were on television a lot! I know, because I was around then and watch them on everything from the Pearl Baily Show to the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. They did quite a bit of television work in the 70s. Why did so many great acts leave Motown in the 70s?

    I also cannot understand how you can totally fail to consider that Motown was investing a lot of money in Diana Ross' extravaganza's and not in any of the other acts signed to Motown during those years. Some people may need mimes, 9-10 costume changes, dance troupe's, etc to cover for the fact that they're singing ability is extremely limited live.
    marv - we've all recognized that motown was focusing on DR. then the J5, temps. Stevie. The fact is though, regardless of if you believe it or not, motown did do considerable promotion on the supremes. there were ads on the girls, elaborate album covers. as you mention, plenty of tv spots. And yet it didn't work. Were they more successful than other most contemporaries - sure. they still had decent hits. But were they successful as they SHOULD have been? i don't think so. so hence the speculation that we're doing here. obviously none of us (yourself included) were working at motown, managing their career so none of us truly know what was going on behind the scenes. that's why we're deliberating and talking about this.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    i think the wig idea fizzled because the group was breaking up. wasn't the wig line announced in spring 73? they did the commercials and there's a brief mention on Mike Douglas when they did SL and IGIMTM. got some notices in reviews and articles at the time.
    Okay, that makes sense. They could've done more endorsements. What did the 70s Supremes endorse?

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    marv - we've all recognized that motown was focusing on DR. then the J5, temps. Stevie. The fact is though, regardless of if you believe it or not, motown did do considerable promotion on the supremes. there were ads on the girls, elaborate album covers. as you mention, plenty of tv spots. And yet it didn't work. Were they more successful than other most contemporaries - sure. they still had decent hits. But were they successful as they SHOULD have been? i don't think so. so hence the speculation that we're doing here. obviously none of us (yourself included) were working at motown, managing their career so none of us truly know what was going on behind the scenes. that's why we're deliberating and talking about this.
    When someone suggests that Diana needed to cover for a limited singing ability when live...conversation terminated. If I were like the others I'd start talking about the limits of another Supreme. I'm not that dude.

    Seems like the biggest problem was horrible management. Some of the avenues that were closed to the 60s Supremes- as big as they were- were more open for the 70s Supremes. They should've been in movies, guest starring on sitcoms, doing commercials. Who better to endorse fashion and cosmetics than the Supremes? It seems like their managers were never thinking beyond the next gig, which is a horrible management style when you have a bankable name and identity such as the Supremes.

  21. #21
    there was talk about their doing the theme song for a doll. something like the Love Doll (whatever that means) but the deal fell through

    there was also a plan to have them wear $1,000,000 worth of jewelry for a show at Frontier. during their last big performance there in late 71/early 72. but the hotel insurance wouldn't cover it so the idea was abandoned.

    while it wasn't nearly as much then as it is today, clearly motown recognized the idea of exposing the sups in other shows and mediums. in the 60s they endorsed coke, bread and arrid. they appeared on Tarzan, the tv specials. The diana had gigs on Laughin, like hep, make room for granddaddy.

    but for the 70s sups, those were not coming around. we can speculate or suggest what might have been good. spots on Good times, the wigs, carol burnette, other shows, etc.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    The Supremes made the Vegas rounds well into the 70s. What makes you think they weren't on that circuit? And the article Sup posted from 1971 apparently says that some of these venues were already downsizing and or shuttering altogether well before the 80sVegas is all about the act. Wayne Newton, while having had an occasional big hit, was never some hugely famous act before he made Vegas his home. It was that certain something that lent itself to the atmosphere of Vegas. Same with Lola Falana. There's an excitement that exists (or existed) that put butts in the seats night after night after night. I don't think the 70s Supremes had the spark necessary to be a hugely popular Vegas act. The fact that, at a certain point, reviews from fans and others suggest that the live act became increasingly boring and then annoyingly erratic, the group was too disastrous to be looked at for long term spots, although apparently they sometimes managed to book them anyway.

    Overall though, it's impossible to maintain a star position when your music isn't resonating with the public. The Supremes without Diana Ross were an entirely new group with an old name. They didn't have much of a resume without citing the hits with Diana and Flo. On their own, the 70s Supremes were a group with 2 pop top 10 hits in 1970. They were no longer on top of anything.
    JMC got their initial contract at The Frontier because, I believe, they also got Ross. It makes sense to me that BG hoped JMC would click and earn a renewal when Ross moved to Caesars where she belonged ( more prestigious, double capacity: huge bucks for Motown to steal.) unfortunately, they under-performed. The casinos used two barometers fir showroom desirability: ticket revenue and casino take on show nights. When it was announced that Ross had signed with Caesars, there was no word on JML and they last performed under contract in mid 72. They never got another deal. They did get a split bill opening for Joel Grey as a one-Off trial at Athens Riviera, but no follow-up.
    ‘A few years later, MSC were signed as an opening act for Alan King at Caesars, but were fired after the disastrous opening night debacle. Mary wrote in her book it was due to poor ticket sales, but that wasn’t true. Alan King performed there two or three times a year under contract for 10 years. That is the extent of the 70s supreme’s involvement in Las Vegas.

    your read of the group is spot on. They just never caught on anywhere really. The very poor album sales that contained hit singles were a big indication as well as the increasing lack of interest in live shows. Jean was very effective in her stunning solo spots and ballads, but not with the pop material and not with dialogue. Lynda was the only 70’s member that could work the crowd verbally. Mary had very effective solo ballad moments, but her other leads were unwarranted and her incessant showboating was amateurish and unnerving. I remember them opening for Ray Charles in Chicago in ‘71 and being embarrassed for her. It was rough watching my sainted Supremes disintegrate, but it was happening in front of my eyes. I don’t really blame anyone because the truth is they needed a star and didn’t have one. Mary invented all the other stuff because she was never going to admit they needed Ross - or someone with star power. They certainly tried hard but when Mary handed over the reigns to Pedro, it was the final nail in the coffin.

    I believe the wig line bombed because no one cared about the Supremes anymore except die-hards - most of which were men who often did not wear wigs.

    As for TV, the initial excitement about the new group wore off fast. It wasn’t long before the only Prime Time guest shots were with shows they had a personal relationship with like, Tom, Flip or Sonny & Cher. Even The Tonight Show didn’t return them to the couch after their first visit. My guess is that they didn’t have the ability to do the comedy required for Carol Burnett. Those Flip Wilson sketches were awful. Only Lynda could handle dialogue acceptably. The bookers at Carol Burnett, I am sure, we’re not interested unless the wanted them to just sing - even then it didn’t happen. Agents can’t get acts on shows - they can offer deals but no amount of agent effort can get an act on a show that doesn’t want them.

    I think that if they had been reinvented by a visionary and got some hot, killer records, they’d still be together today, but Motown had little material to offer it was just all a big mess once Jean started in on Mary.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    JMC got their initial contract at The Frontier because, I believe, they also got Ross. It makes sense to me that BG hoped JMC would click and earn a renewal when Ross moved to Caesars where she belonged ( more prestigious, double capacity: huge bucks for Motown to steal.) unfortunately, they under-performed. The casinos used two barometers fir showroom desirability: ticket revenue and casino take on show nights. When it was announced that Ross had signed with Caesars, there was no word on JML and they last performed under contract in mid 72. They never got another deal. They did get a split bill opening for Joel Grey as a one-Off trial at Athens Riviera, but no follow-up.
    ‘A few years later, MSC were signed as an opening act for Alan King at Caesars, but were fired after the disastrous opening night debacle. Mary wrote in her book it was due to poor ticket sales, but that wasn’t true. Alan King performed there two or three times a year under contract for 10 years. That is the extent of the 70s supreme’s involvement in Las Vegas.

    your read of the group is spot on. They just never caught on anywhere really. The very poor album sales that contained hit singles were a big indication as well as the increasing lack of interest in live shows. Jean was very effective in her stunning solo spots and ballads, but not with the pop material and not with dialogue. Lynda was the only 70’s member that could work the crowd verbally. Mary had very effective solo ballad moments, but her other leads were unwarranted and her incessant showboating was amateurish and unnerving. I remember them opening for Ray Charles in Chicago in ‘71 and being embarrassed for her. It was rough watching my sainted Supremes disintegrate, but it was happening in front of my eyes. I don’t really blame anyone because the truth is they needed a star and didn’t have one. Mary invented all the other stuff because she was never going to admit they needed Ross - or someone with star power. They certainly tried hard but when Mary handed over the reigns to Pedro, it was the final nail in the coffin.

    I believe the wig line bombed because no one cared about the Supremes anymore except die-hards - most of which were men who often did not wear wigs.

    As for TV, the initial excitement about the new group wore off fast. It wasn’t long before the only Prime Time guest shots were with shows they had a personal relationship with like, Tom, Flip or Sonny & Cher. Even The Tonight Show didn’t return them to the couch after their first visit. My guess is that they didn’t have the ability to do the comedy required for Carol Burnett. Those Flip Wilson sketches were awful. Only Lynda could handle dialogue acceptably. The bookers at Carol Burnett, I am sure, we’re not interested unless the wanted them to just sing - even then it didn’t happen. Agents can’t get acts on shows - they can offer deals but no amount of agent effort can get an act on a show that doesn’t want them.

    I think that if they had been reinvented by a visionary and got some hot, killer records, they’d still be together today, but Motown had little material to offer it was just all a big mess once Jean started in on Mary.
    great recap Maniac. really interesting points. would LOVE to hear more about the shows you saw in the 70s.

    After the Frontier contract ended, they a few single Vegas gigs:

    Riviera - April/May 1974
    Aladdin - Sept 76
    Caesar's - Dec (i think) 76. This was the one with Alan King. have the audio of it and it has moments of greatness and moments of disaster. Sometimes you can hear full and supportive applause (like after Scherrie's always stunning Maybe This Time) but then you also hear the lack of applause after the horrible greatest hits medley in the mega-dress

    I too agree with your points about how their various personalities came across on tv. Jean always looks so awkward when trying to just talk with a host. and Mary often does come across as over compensating. Lynda was great, the few times we saw her. Like the Flip comedy sketch. and the little bits of dialog on Exodus from the Hawaii engagement.

    we can always hypothesize what S and S could have done. but by then Mary was handling pretty much everything

  24. #24
    they did seem to perform often at San Fran Fairmont. obviously with the gay population there, they probably had strong turnout for their shows.

    Same with Bachellor's III in Ft Lauderdale

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    marv - we've all recognized that motown was focusing on DR. then the J5, temps. Stevie. The fact is though, regardless of if you believe it or not, motown did do considerable promotion on the supremes. there were ads on the girls, elaborate album covers. as you mention, plenty of tv spots. And yet it didn't work. Were they more successful than other most contemporaries - sure. they still had decent hits. But were they successful as they SHOULD have been? i don't think so. so hence the speculation that we're doing here. obviously none of us (yourself included) were working at motown, managing their career so none of us truly know what was going on behind the scenes. that's why we're deliberating and talking about this.
    Then you are supposed to say it! That's if you're going to continue to go on and on about how the Supremes just "declined" in the 70s like they were the only Motown artists that some perceived had declined. No Motown did not!(do considerable promotion) I know because I was a fan and I was around the whole time!

    When you have a matured product, you have to do even more promotion to keep that brand at the top! The Supremes did not just wake up one morning and decided "hey let's do something, anything to decline ourselves" they didn't do that, nor did the public! You the reception the Supremes music got from the kids, the dancers on Soul Train and American Bandstand back in the 70s. The Supremes would go on all these shows and sing and perform their hearts out and then you'd go to record stores and could not find their records! Also, you are not being accurate in regards to Motown's focus. The Jackson 5 saw a noticeable decline due to neglect from the label after 1974. They left and so did the Temptations! The Supremes would have left, but they could not take their group name with them. The Jackson's had to leave "the Jackson 5" at Motown and shortened their name to "The Jacksons". Smokey negotiated the Temptations being able to leave with their name when they went to Atlantic Records. So I don't know what you are talking about.

    There was a list of Motown Artists that left the company in the 70s because they felt neglected. The Supremes talents of singing and performing did not decline, some would argue that they sounded even better in the 70s. You know but will never admit it that Motown did not put the same promotional effort behind the Supremes in the 70s as they did in the 60s. When Berry Gordy told Mary Wilson, "Fine, then I wash my hands of whole goddamned group!", he meant it. I don't want to hear about "well, Mr. Gordy offered to manage the group in 1976" yada, yada, yada. He did not mean it! He didn't mean it or he could have easily convinced Mary to let him do so. He did not mean it in 1982 when they talked about regrouping the Supremes and bringing them back to Motown either!
    Last edited by marv2; 02-10-2020 at 08:59 PM.

  26. #26
    Sup: I forgot about That Aladdin gig and I don’t know if it was a week or shorter but it led to nothing so I assume attendance was weak. That hotel was a hot mess from the day it opened and was considered jinxed. Lola Falana was there with what was considered a hot show, so maybe she drew well. I nEver saw her but damn she was beautiful and popular in Vegas.

    ‘’at the time, my perspective was tainted by my fandom and sincere well wishes. Once I got somewhat friendly with them, it all became another level of objectivity. After being wowed by Ross for 6 years, Jean was an acceptable lead with a great voice and they looked good and the records were good but the enthusiasm just wasn’t there. I recall both Nathan and Floy Joy getting tepid responses while they were hits in less than full venues. Jean could be exquisite with her ballads, but I always hated her Supremes hits vocals. Later I learned she didn’t care for the songs at all, but at the time it never dawned on me that she would want to be the lead singer of a group whose musical legacy she had no interest in. As time went on, the medleys got frenetic and crazy and not enjoyable. I never cared for Cindys voice but always liked Mary’s until she began to take solos from Jean that didn’t work - especially on Reflections.....so there were growing parts of the show that didn’t work. I liked Exedous when it was new, but they began to over sing it and it lost its beauty. I LOVED McArthur Park. Stoned Love and Up The Ladder were always treated like they just wanted to get them over with. River Deep was awesome, but it wasn’t in the show very often.
    ‘I always felt badly for Mary when Jean began to .....not get along with her. After Cindy left, Jean was often hostile to Mary and it was uncomfortable to witness. I never saw Mary start anything it was just little comments but their intent was clear. I much preferred JML as Lynda had spark, looks and voice. Lynda was much more striking in person than pictures.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    JMC got their initial contract at The Frontier because, I believe, they also got Ross. It makes sense to me that BG hoped JMC would click and earn a renewal when Ross moved to Caesars where she belonged ( more prestigious, double capacity: huge bucks for Motown to steal.) unfortunately, they under-performed. The casinos used two barometers fir showroom desirability: ticket revenue and casino take on show nights. When it was announced that Ross had signed with Caesars, there was no word on JML and they last performed under contract in mid 72. They never got another deal. They did get a split bill opening for Joel Grey as a one-Off trial at Athens Riviera, but no follow-up.
    ‘A few years later, MSC were signed as an opening act for Alan King at Caesars, but were fired after the disastrous opening night debacle. Mary wrote in her book it was due to poor ticket sales, but that wasn’t true. Alan King performed there two or three times a year under contract for 10 years. That is the extent of the 70s supreme’s involvement in Las Vegas.

    your read of the group is spot on. They just never caught on anywhere really. The very poor album sales that contained hit singles were a big indication as well as the increasing lack of interest in live shows. Jean was very effective in her stunning solo spots and ballads, but not with the pop material and not with dialogue. Lynda was the only 70’s member that could work the crowd verbally. Mary had very effective solo ballad moments, but her other leads were unwarranted and her incessant showboating was amateurish and unnerving. I remember them opening for Ray Charles in Chicago in ‘71 and being embarrassed for her. It was rough watching my sainted Supremes disintegrate, but it was happening in front of my eyes. I don’t really blame anyone because the truth is they needed a star and didn’t have one. Mary invented all the other stuff because she was never going to admit they needed Ross - or someone with star power. They certainly tried hard but when Mary handed over the reigns to Pedro, it was the final nail in the coffin.

    I believe the wig line bombed because no one cared about the Supremes anymore except die-hards - most of which were men who often did not wear wigs.

    As for TV, the initial excitement about the new group wore off fast. It wasn’t long before the only Prime Time guest shots were with shows they had a personal relationship with like, Tom, Flip or Sonny & Cher. Even The Tonight Show didn’t return them to the couch after their first visit. My guess is that they didn’t have the ability to do the comedy required for Carol Burnett. Those Flip Wilson sketches were awful. Only Lynda could handle dialogue acceptably. The bookers at Carol Burnett, I am sure, we’re not interested unless the wanted them to just sing - even then it didn’t happen. Agents can’t get acts on shows - they can offer deals but no amount of agent effort can get an act on a show that doesn’t want them.

    I think that if they had been reinvented by a visionary and got some hot, killer records, they’d still be together today, but Motown had little material to offer it was just all a big mess once Jean started in on Mary.
    Great post Maniac. I am tempted to add what i was told by Jean a few years back, but i think we had better leave it for the moment. It has been relatively peaceful on this forum of late and it would be nice to keep it that way.
    It seems that some people just cannot handle the truth.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Then you are supposed to say it! That's if you're going to continue to go on and on about how the Supremes just "declined" in the 70s like they were the only Motown artists that some perceived had declined. No Motown did not!(do considerable promotion) I know because I was a fan and I was around the whole time!

    When you have a matured product, you have to do even more promotion to keep that brand at the top! The Supremes did not just wake up one morning and decided "hey let's do something, anything to decline ourselves" they didn't do that, nor did the public! You the reception the Supremes music got from the kids, the dancers on Soul Train and American Bandstand back in the 70s. The Supremes would go on all these shows and sing and perform their hearts out and then you'd go to record stores and could not find their records! Also, you are not being accurate in regards to Motown's focus. The Jackson 5 saw a noticeable decline due to neglect from the label after 1974. They left and so did the Temptations! The Supremes would have left, but they could not take their group name with them. The Jackson's had to leave "the Jackson 5" at Motown and shortened their name to "The Jacksons". Smokey negotiated the Temptations being able to leave with their name when they went to Atlantic Records. So I don't know what you are talking about.

    There was a list of Motown Artists that left the company in the 70s because they felt neglected. The Supremes talents of singing and performing did not decline, some would argue that they sounded even better in the 70s. You know but will never admit it that Motown did not put the same promotional effort behind the Supremes in the 70s as they did in the 60s. When Berry Gordy told Mary Wilson, "Fine, then I wash my hands of whole goddamned group!", he meant it. I don't want to hear about "well, Mr. Gordy offered to manage the group in 1976" yada, yada, yada. He did not mean it! He didn't mean it or he could have easily convinced Mary to let him do so. He did not mean it in 1982 when they talked about regrouping the Supremes and bringing them back to Motown either!
    Marv - no one is saying anything about other acts in this thread. Everyone knows what went down with them. Motown simply didn’t have the writing/producing talent for the 70s to propel their acts - all of which suffered because of that - except those who wrote their own. This includes Ross. The point here is that JMC started out at a high level of interest and trended down, slowly but steadily, since Ed Sullivan. They were drawing poorly in 71 even with Stoned Love, Nathan and River Deep on the charts. They were opening for The Temptations a year after Ed Sullivan. Their album sales tanked and every one of those records were in stores. Motown cannot get records into stores. In capitalism, store owners are free to stock merchandise they think will sell. IF you had trouble finding their records in stores, it’s because those stores didn’t want to stock them and run the risk of getting stuck with them. I never had any trouble finding their product in major record stores. Never ever.

    The J5 left because of the lack of freedom in their choice of music and a shitty royalty deal. Everyone knows that and they’ve said it for 40 years. Someday, sit down and ask someone how the business operated back then and you’ll understand much of your arguments simply don’t make sense. Your knowledge of the music is vast, but the business end is more than just endless platitudes about promotion.

    ‘Berry washed his hands because he didn’t want to waste his time on Jean. Mary fought him on that and it was her decision to do without his help. All she had to do was not insist on Jean. That is all on Mary. She could’ve called him back the next day and said you know you’re right, let’s use someone else…… But she didn’t…

    I totally disagree with you about Berry in 76. I think he very much wanted to get them back on track because Motown needed the income. You don’t know what he thought then, in ‘82 or ever. I don’t know why you think he would offer to manage the group if he didn’t want to, it makes no sense. Mary wanted Pedro and didn’t care what Scherrie and Cindy wanted. Choosing a rube to manage The Supremes into oblivion is on Mary, not Motown or Berry.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    Marv - no one is saying anything about other acts in this thread. Everyone knows what went down with them. Motown simply didn’t have the writing/producing talent for the 70s to propel their acts - all of which suffered because of that - except those who wrote their own. This includes Ross. The point here is that JMC started out at a high level of interest and trended down, slowly but steadily, since Ed Sullivan. They were drawing poorly in 71 even with Stoned Love, Nathan and River Deep on the charts. They were opening for The Temptations a year after Ed Sullivan. Their album sales tanked and every one of those records were in stores. Motown cannot get records into stores. In capitalism, store owners are free to stock merchandise they think will sell. IF you had trouble finding their records in stores, it’s because those stores didn’t want to stock them and run the risk of getting stuck with them. I never had any trouble finding their product in major record stores. Never ever.

    The J5 left because of the lack of freedom in their choice of music and a shitty royalty deal. Everyone knows that and they’ve said it for 40 years. Someday, sit down and ask someone how the business operated back then and you’ll understand much of your arguments simply don’t make sense. Your knowledge of the music is vast, but the business end is more than just endless platitudes about promotion.

    ‘Berry washed his hands because he didn’t want to waste his time on Jean. Mary fought him on that and it was her decision to do without his help. All she had to do was not insist on Jean. That is all on Mary. She could’ve called him back the next day and said you know you’re right, let’s use someone else…… But she didn’t…

    I totally disagree with you about Berry in 76. I think he very much wanted to get them back on track because Motown needed the income. You don’t know what he thought then, in ‘82 or ever. I don’t know why you think he would offer to manage the group if he didn’t want to, it makes no sense. Mary wanted Pedro and didn’t care what Scherrie and Cindy wanted. Choosing a rube to manage The Supremes into oblivion is on Mary, not Motown or Berry.
    Preach brother preach!

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    Sup: I forgot about That Aladdin gig and I don’t know if it was a week or shorter but it led to nothing so I assume attendance was weak. That hotel was a hot mess from the day it opened and was considered jinxed. Lola Falana was there with what was considered a hot show, so maybe she drew well. I nEver saw her but damn she was beautiful and popular in Vegas.

    ‘’at the time, my perspective was tainted by my fandom and sincere well wishes. Once I got somewhat friendly with them, it all became another level of objectivity. After being wowed by Ross for 6 years, Jean was an acceptable lead with a great voice and they looked good and the records were good but the enthusiasm just wasn’t there. I recall both Nathan and Floy Joy getting tepid responses while they were hits in less than full venues. Jean could be exquisite with her ballads, but I always hated her Supremes hits vocals. Later I learned she didn’t care for the songs at all, but at the time it never dawned on me that she would want to be the lead singer of a group whose musical legacy she had no interest in. As time went on, the medleys got frenetic and crazy and not enjoyable. I never cared for Cindys voice but always liked Mary’s until she began to take solos from Jean that didn’t work - especially on Reflections.....so there were growing parts of the show that didn’t work. I liked Exedous when it was new, but they began to over sing it and it lost its beauty. I LOVED McArthur Park. Stoned Love and Up The Ladder were always treated like they just wanted to get them over with. River Deep was awesome, but it wasn’t in the show very often.
    ‘I always felt badly for Mary when Jean began to .....not get along with her. After Cindy left, Jean was often hostile to Mary and it was uncomfortable to witness. I never saw Mary start anything it was just little comments but their intent was clear. I much preferred JML as Lynda had spark, looks and voice. Lynda was much more striking in person than pictures.
    Maniac - love your insights!!! thanks so much for sharing!!

    i wonder if the problem with Jean and the sup hits is that she wanted to sing them HER way. Lots of fans have said that you never heard Jean sing the same song the same way twice. As an artist, she wanted to interpret the 60s songs. But fans wanted the tried and true sound and lead vocals. People probably asked her to "sing it like Diana would!" and eventually she was probably so fed up with that, that it ruined the songs for her. But she had to do them cuz you can't have a Supremes' show without Baby Love.

    You point about overdoing songs is spot on. the girls' show simply didn't reinvent itself enough. there just wasn't as much interest in hearing the girls since MOR content again and again and again. Not when so many other artists and labels were coming onto the scene. there was SOOOOOO much more variety of musical acts available in the 70s

    As for Lynda vs Cindy, i never like to compare girls. But they're so totally two different types of singers. Cindy is great in what she does best - which is harmony and backing vocals. and she had her own personality. Lynda on the other hand is more of a lead singer - both vocally and personality-wise. As i've said in the past, the group was not adequately evaluating each new girl and considering how they might add new elements to the mix. they simply wanted to drop lynda into Cindy's role.

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    Marv - no one is saying anything about other acts in this thread. Everyone knows what went down with them. Motown simply didn’t have the writing/producing talent for the 70s to propel their acts - all of which suffered because of that - except those who wrote their own. This includes Ross. The point here is that JMC started out at a high level of interest and trended down, slowly but steadily, since Ed Sullivan. They were drawing poorly in 71 even with Stoned Love, Nathan and River Deep on the charts. They were opening for The Temptations a year after Ed Sullivan. Their album sales tanked and every one of those records were in stores. Motown cannot get records into stores. In capitalism, store owners are free to stock merchandise they think will sell. IF you had trouble finding their records in stores, it’s because those stores didn’t want to stock them and run the risk of getting stuck with them. I never had any trouble finding their product in major record stores. Never ever.

    The J5 left because of the lack of freedom in their choice of music and a shitty royalty deal. Everyone knows that and they’ve said it for 40 years. Someday, sit down and ask someone how the business operated back then and you’ll understand much of your arguments simply don’t make sense. Your knowledge of the music is vast, but the business end is more than just endless platitudes about promotion.

    ‘Berry washed his hands because he didn’t want to waste his time on Jean. Mary fought him on that and it was her decision to do without his help. All she had to do was not insist on Jean. That is all on Mary. She could’ve called him back the next day and said you know you’re right, let’s use someone else…… But she didn’t…

    I totally disagree with you about Berry in 76. I think he very much wanted to get them back on track because Motown needed the income. You don’t know what he thought then, in ‘82 or ever. I don’t know why you think he would offer to manage the group if he didn’t want to, it makes no sense. Mary wanted Pedro and didn’t care what Scherrie and Cindy wanted. Choosing a rube to manage The Supremes into oblivion is on Mary, not Motown or Berry.
    I completely agree with you about Berry and 76. Prior to that, i think he would have been totally fine for mary to retire and the group be done. But she didn't/couldn't/wouldn't. had berry wanted MSC as an act in 1974, those contracts would have been resolved in weeks, not months. he prob hoped the act would just die away. But it didn't and, even though the shows weren't groundbreaking, they were still making decent enough money and gigs. Sure the Riviera one bombed and others did too. But they were still making some money on tv and shows and with NO records. Plus i've heard that mary pretty much begged Berry to please NOT drop them from the label. maybe he felt some sympathy and bond there. So they signed and we got Sup 75. Frankly i think the Ivey/Woodford content on that album is EXCELLENT and hinted at a pop potential for the group. But the HDH disco sound also worked. Berry prob saw that the girls were still hot in the dance clubs and with the gay audiences, perfect for disco. And since motown didn't have much in that category, he prob thought "perfect! we have an established brand and entity called the Sups." they had the glitter, glam, dance beats and gay following so let's re-establish them and they'll be our flagship group in this category.

    But the whole pedro/mary debacle simply killed this off

  32. #32
    LOL @ Blue.....
    thanks, Sup.
    ‘I’m not here much anymore as I’ve been helping family deal with the floods from last year, but this topic is in me because I LOVED DMF. Anyone who saw them live will tell you the same thing: all 3 were wonderful. Mary was beautiful and sexy, Diana was....well, Diana with her magic and Flo was like your fave flavor of Hagen Daze: simply wonderful and made you feel good. You wanted to hug her. They were phenomenal and never came across on TV as they did live. I don’t know why. When Cindy came, it was like you took your favorite flavor of Häagen-Dazs, removed the flavoring, so now you have something creamy and sweet and wonderful…… But with no flavor. The dream was gone. The feeling was gone. In its place, was an entirely new act that was all about Diana and it worked really well, but the focus had to be on her because Cindy brought very little to the table and that minute offering had a listening affect on Mary’s offering resulting in a much, much, much lower wattage output. Diana was up to the challenge, mercifully, but for many fans, Mary and Cindy seemed redundant and after January 14, 1970, they were. And this is no insult to them as they did everything that was required of them and they did it beautifully but I really do not consider the Supremes as the Supremes After Florence left. They were an entirely new group which I like very much. When Diana left, I had every intention Of following the Supremes to my grave - it simply never dawned on me that they might somehow not be very good anymore. I never expected them to be awful on TV shows or not to like their gowns. These realizations were sad to me kind of like I lost a friend I wanted very much to hold onto that friendship. Oddly, because of their friendliness and open nature, I got to hang with them a little bit sometimes which was thrilling to me even as I began to not enjoy portions of their act. So there still is this emotional passion in me about this subject and it’s probably some sort of weird character defect but I’m still guessing on about it decades later but so be it it is what it is.

    when Jean came, She was exciting as her voice, initially, was not that much of a departure from what we were used to, yet she still brought a new dimension to the group. I don’t know what she was thinking when she signed on, she has told me how shocked and surprised she was, but she’s never gone any deeper than that and I suspect she felt she could reinvent the group into a more soulful, hip presentation. I have no idea what Barry courtney promised her, if anything. But she clearly have no respect for the Supremes catalog of hits because she Sang them with the love that she would put in to so many of her songs. And, even though she was extremely talented, Barry Gordy was right she was not the correct choice for the group and Mary has since agreed with this assessment. And with everything else going on at the time, it makes complete sense why he would not want to devote any of his energy while launching diana ross solo, the Jackson 5 explosion, the Temptations explosion and implosion, and dealing with declining revenues of Martha, the four tops, and others. He simply didn’t need the extra work to fight with Jean when he has a little fight left in him. It’s not like Motown ignored the group at all as their launch was as auspicious as humanly possible. He just wasn’t involved personally on a day to day level. They were not ignored at all until they began to slip so much and like any group at any label, the attention goes to the people who are selling records and filling seats.

  33. #33
    i agree that i'd assume jean felt that if she was going to be the lead singer then she'd also be leading the group. even if partially. clearly that wasn't happening. As the lead singer, she'd want to evolve the group into her own style and image but either mary or motown or both wouldn't allow that. she was salaried for (i think) the first 18 months so she wasn't even really hitting a home run financially. Once she DID get royalties, the records weren't selling so who cares. I'd still love to know who the hell forced them to keep singing crap like TCB, Somewhere, You're nobody, etc. Or endless MOR content like Cabaret.

    As for Berry's involvement, he was never going to be personally involved in any act that didn't include Diana. no surprise there. But you're also right in the fact that the rest of the staff is going to focus time, energy and resources on who's hot. Once the flame dimmed on the Sups, the focus would have shifted

    now some would that would be the time to invest MORE in the group. for the management to focus on how to reinvent the group and find new sounds and images. But with the personal conflicts between jean and mary, that could have hampered people's motivations. why bother with a hot mess like that. sure the Temps were a hot mess but at least they were selling. Sure marvin was batshit crazy but at least he was selling.

    I think Cindy's departure impacted the group quite significantly. I do think post-Diana that Cindy had more of an opportunity to add to the group. yes, during DRATS she was simply there to fill in a spot on the stage. But in the 70s i think she added much. her departure right after the hiccup of Touch was poorly timed. they began to rebound with the FJ single but the steam was let out as they couldn't tour or do appearances due to the personnel change. Then you add the Jimmy Webb mess and that pretty much sealed it.

  34. #34
    Honestly, after Diana left the Supremes, Motown should've revamped or let the Supremes themselves revamp without having to rely on Vegas glitz and glamour to get by.

    Mary might've not been so cool with changing the act, which is why they continued the Vegas thing for years.

    Which could make sense. Mary & Jean often butted heads a lot. I just think because Mary was a Pisces (March 6, 1944) and Jean was a Scorpio (November 1944), these different personalities clashed often.

    Jean probably didn't wanna do Vegas but Mary insisted they keep the show as it is (which is odd because I don't think Flo liked to do Vegas either).

    That, added to Motown's unsuccessful attempts (for the most part) to bring the Supremes to the '70s and beyond, caused the group to fold. I said this before, but Motown in the '70s just wasn't the Motown of old. The Motown that was a group/team effort that helped to transform three hardworking ambitious girls from the Brewster Douglass projects to the queens of pop.

    So I can imagine that bringing a lineup of the Supremes that weren't of the classic lineup to audiences. The devoted would always remain Supremes fans while other who had shown interest during the classic years lost interest because they couldn't relate to the songs anymore and it wasn't the same members/same lead singer, etc.

    I feel like Diana solo and the Supremes without her expose that both sides had vulnerabilities: Diana's solo career struggled with trying to find the right sound for her (if HDH hadn't left, they might've given her "Band of Gold" instead of Freda Payne) while the Supremes were a star act without stars, if that makes sense (not saying Cindy, Mary & Jean weren't stars, but it didn't quite hit like Flo, Mary & Diana).

    You have a group that you become close to because they present a unified front and then when that group splinters, be it at the Frontier Hotel in Vegas or Madison Square Garden in NYC, it's never the same.

    That's what happened to the Supremes.

    That said, the JMC Supremes could've definitely adapted better than the later members (Lynda, Susaye and Scherrie) and there was too many missed opportunities.

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post

    I think that if they had been reinvented by a visionary and got some hot, killer records, they’d still be together today
    That's my opinion also, minus the "still be together today" part. I still maintain that the grouping with the most potential was JML. That was the time to take the Supremes to a new level. Their decline with Cindy is forgivable. They could've recovered. And it's not like they just went down to the dumps. Singles wise, after "Stoned Love" they were almost always in the top 40, both pop and r&b. Their last single when Cindy was still in the group was either "Floy Joy" or "Automatically Sunshine", neither of which were slouches on the charts. So they still carried some weight.

    JML finished off the Floy Joy set and then dropped "I Guess I'll Miss the Man", a brilliant song, but a ridiculous choice for a single. And then that was followed up with an album produced by Jimmy Webb which just didn't seem to fit anyone's idea of what the group's next move should've been. Had JML gone from Floy Joy to the Stevie Wonder album, I think it's possible that might have produced some more staying power. If not, the group jumping ship to another label made the most sense. I will never believe that there wasn't someone, somewhere else, who would not have seen the potential in that group. All three were lead singers. Each lady appeared to have her lane, which would've opened the door to all kinds of hit single material (and killer albums). IMO they were visually stunning in a non glamour way, which was perfect for that point of the 1970s. Jean's regalness, Lynda's vibrant personality, and Mary's girl next door familiarity, combined, could've resulted in this unnamed group taking the decade by storm. There was something there for everyone, which I believe is one of the things that made the original trio of Supremes special and popular.

    But Mary wanted to play it safe and I think it was a mistake that resonates to this day. Why Jean and Lynda didn't find a third lady to take Mary's place is a question I would love to have either of them answer someday. They didn't need Mary if Mary didn't want to leave with them.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    we can always hypothesize what S and S could have done. but by then Mary was handling pretty much everything
    Was she? Or was Pedro handling everything?

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    ‘Berry washed his hands because he didn’t want to waste his time on Jean. Mary fought him on that and it was her decision to do without his help. All she had to do was not insist on Jean. That is all on Mary. She could’ve called him back the next day and said you know you’re right, let’s use someone else…… But she didn’t…
    Not buying it. Either Mary's account is false, dreamed up to add drama to Dreamgirl, or Gordy used that as a manipulation tactic. Nothing about Gordy's relationship with the Supremes suggests that he would've ever given Mary the power to veto his decision about anything. If he really wanted Jean gone, she would've been out on her ass and Mary would've just had to deal with it. If Mary's account isn't false, then Gordy used that Jean thing as a reason to walk away and being able to say "well Mary thinks she can do a better job than me, so the group is hers" as opposed to saying "I only gave a damn about the Supremes because of Diana. No Diana, no Berry" and of course that wouldn't have been a good look. Gordy knew that pulling Jean out at this late point would've pissed Mary off, and probably Cindy too, after all of the work they had done helping Jean get into the role. He knew Mary wouldn't go for it. Since Flo's exit, Mary had slowly taken over Flo's role of questioning some of the decisions and business surrounding the group and how everyone was treated. I believe Gordy made that call because he knew exactly how Mary would respond and he was hoping he was right.

    Gordy wasn't invested in the Supremes after Diana's exit. He may not have wished for their failure, but he wasn't going to lift much of a finger to avoid it either. The Supremes were no different to him than Martha and the Vandellas or the Marvelettes at this point, and I don't believe he wished for either of those two groups decline, but he sure as hell didn't lift a finger to save them either.

  38. #38
    The music was also a big part of this mess. There was something missing. Most of the singles were devoid of that certain something that made them instant classics, IMO. Most of the other big female groups of the decade just had better song for songs.

  39. #39
    i don't believe that mary was just sitting back in the corner while Pedro developed his vision of what the supremes was.

    my belief is that after J and L split, Mary realized that she was the least known of the originals. and at that moment in time, she had no viable options for career. So she needed the group to reform and provide her with a platform to go solo off of.

    IMO that was her big mistake. viewing the Scherrie years as simply a precursor to her solo activities. Mary's voice is beautiful, while in her niche. That niche and sound simply doesn't often translate into a massive solo pop act. She should have realized that her best path was to keep the group intact at whatever costs.

    Pedro played to her ego and was convincing her that she could be the alto version of a Diana Ross. of course, he would then just ride her coattails.

    These are my interpretations of events. of course i wasn't there but this is how i've come to view the situation based on all the sources of books and fan stories.

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    i don't believe that mary was just sitting back in the corner while Pedro developed his vision of what the supremes was.

    my belief is that after J and L split, Mary realized that she was the least known of the originals. and at that moment in time, she had no viable options for career. So she needed the group to reform and provide her with a platform to go solo off of.

    IMO that was her big mistake. viewing the Scherrie years as simply a precursor to her solo activities. Mary's voice is beautiful, while in her niche. That niche and sound simply doesn't often translate into a massive solo pop act. She should have realized that her best path was to keep the group intact at whatever costs.

    Pedro played to her ego and was convincing her that she could be the alto version of a Diana Ross. of course, he would then just ride her coattails.

    These are my interpretations of events. of course i wasn't there but this is how i've come to view the situation based on all the sources of books and fan stories.
    Lalalalala......and all of that was not true! All it was about at that point was making money and earning a living. None of those "issues" or "thoughts" played into anything. I wished we could get Pedro to come on here.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Not buying it. Either Mary's account is false, dreamed up to add drama to Dreamgirl, or Gordy used that as a manipulation tactic. Nothing about Gordy's relationship with the Supremes suggests that he would've ever given Mary the power to veto his decision about anything. If he really wanted Jean gone, she would've been out on her ass and Mary would've just had to deal with it. If Mary's account isn't false, then Gordy used that Jean thing as a reason to walk away and being able to say "well Mary thinks she can do a better job than me, so the group is hers" as opposed to saying "I only gave a damn about the Supremes because of Diana. No Diana, no Berry" and of course that wouldn't have been a good look. Gordy knew that pulling Jean out at this late point would've pissed Mary off, and probably Cindy too, after all of the work they had done helping Jean get into the role. He knew Mary wouldn't go for it. Since Flo's exit, Mary had slowly taken over Flo's role of questioning some of the decisions and business surrounding the group and how everyone was treated. I believe Gordy made that call because he knew exactly how Mary would respond and he was hoping he was right.

    Gordy wasn't invested in the Supremes after Diana's exit. He may not have wished for their failure, but he wasn't going to lift much of a finger to avoid it either. The Supremes were no different to him than Martha and the Vandellas or the Marvelettes at this point, and I don't believe he wished for either of those two groups decline, but he sure as hell didn't lift a finger to save them either.
    what's interesting about this whole subject (kicking Jean out right after the Farewell) is just how little info we really have on it.

    there are Mary's books. and in Randy's book Motown: Hot Wax, City Cool, Solid Gold, he brings it up and also includes a quote from Cindy. something along the lines of "after the big Farewell there was a big argument with Berry about Jean..."

    that's pretty much it.

    given what a HUGE implication it had, surprising there isn't more. Did Berry really feel that jean was detrimental to the group? was he testing Mary to gauge her loyalty? did he and jean have a falling out?

    Even in some of the other trusted books on motown and the group, it doesn't appear

    not saying it didn't happen. but as we've seen with nearly EVERY story about the group, to really understand what was happening, it's necessary to pull in perspectives from a range of those present. then sort of cobble it together.

    would be fascinating to have had Cindy's full view on the situation

  42. #42
    The group should have disbanded when Diana left. Berry should have signed Jean as a solo artist . Mary should have also been offered a solo deal. Not sure what could have been done with Cindy.

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by khansperac View Post
    The group should have disbanded when Diana left. Berry should have signed Jean as a solo artist . Mary should have also been offered a solo deal. Not sure what could have been done with Cindy.
    i think that might have played out badly for diana. i'd guess that public perception of the group being forced to disband for her solo aspirations would have been quite negative. there was already a lot of publicity about her ego and the imbalance within the group. that could have really tainted her initial solo efforts.

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    what's interesting about this whole subject (kicking Jean out right after the Farewell) is just how little info we really have on it.

    there are Mary's books. and in Randy's book Motown: Hot Wax, City Cool, Solid Gold, he brings it up and also includes a quote from Cindy. something along the lines of "after the big Farewell there was a big argument with Berry about Jean..."

    that's pretty much it.

    given what a HUGE implication it had, surprising there isn't more. Did Berry really feel that jean was detrimental to the group? was he testing Mary to gauge her loyalty? did he and jean have a falling out?

    Even in some of the other trusted books on motown and the group, it doesn't appear

    not saying it didn't happen. but as we've seen with nearly EVERY story about the group, to really understand what was happening, it's necessary to pull in perspectives from a range of those present. then sort of cobble it together.

    would be fascinating to have had Cindy's full view on the situation
    There's a lot of missing information about what happened within the group going back to when Florence was in the group. I've always wondered about why Berry had changed his mind about Jean, and right at the moment she became a part of the group. Like what happened? Did something happen between Jean and Berry? What happened THAT night to cause Berry to change his mind and at the very last minute?

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    There's a lot of missing information about what happened within the group going back to when Florence was in the group. I've always wondered about why Berry had changed his mind about Jean, and right at the moment she became a part of the group. Like what happened? Did something happen between Jean and Berry? What happened THAT night to cause Berry to change his mind and at the very last minute?
    Yes, something did happen between Jean and Berry. He wanted to, but she didn't.......LOL!!!

  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    There's a lot of missing information about what happened within the group going back to when Florence was in the group. I've always wondered about why Berry had changed his mind about Jean, and right at the moment she became a part of the group. Like what happened? Did something happen between Jean and Berry? What happened THAT night to cause Berry to change his mind and at the very last minute?
    oh i'm sure you're right. there are probably volumes of info on what's not been told.

    I can't remember who brought it up and with what old thread, but i remember someone sharing some info from talking with Gil. he said both M and D were crushed as they watched F deteriorate. both girls were really trying to keep her going and keep it from Berry. it just unfortunately got to a point where they just couldn't any longer. But the picture that's been painted of Diana scheming Flo out of the group is not only not accurate but slanderous. sure all the girls had squabbles and tiffs. good lord - who wouldn't. Diana definitely wanted M and F as part of the group until it simply became unrealistic to continue

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    There's a lot of missing information about what happened within the group going back to when Florence was in the group. I've always wondered about why Berry had changed his mind about Jean, and right at the moment she became a part of the group. Like what happened? Did something happen between Jean and Berry? What happened THAT night to cause Berry to change his mind and at the very last minute?
    the little i've heard is that jean was quite opinionated on how to sing and how to present her voice. remember that Berry had total control over Diana and could give her endless criticism and notes, all of which she'd take without much fuss. But jean was an adult and had her own ideas and opinions. So she wouldn't follow Berry's dictates to the T

    frankly it's a bit like Flo, but doesn't seem like she was as confrontational

    I'd also guess that he started to see that she might not have had the TYPE A personality like Diana and prob started to wonder if she was really the right presence for the group

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    what's interesting about this whole subject (kicking Jean out right after the Farewell) is just how little info we really have on it.

    there are Mary's books. and in Randy's book Motown: Hot Wax, City Cool, Solid Gold, he brings it up and also includes a quote from Cindy. something along the lines of "after the big Farewell there was a big argument with Berry about Jean..."

    that's pretty much it.

    given what a HUGE implication it had, surprising there isn't more. Did Berry really feel that jean was detrimental to the group? was he testing Mary to gauge her loyalty? did he and jean have a falling out?

    Even in some of the other trusted books on motown and the group, it doesn't appear

    not saying it didn't happen. but as we've seen with nearly EVERY story about the group, to really understand what was happening, it's necessary to pull in perspectives from a range of those present. then sort of cobble it together.

    would be fascinating to have had Cindy's full view on the situation
    I've seen the rumor a time or two that Jean refused to succumb to Gordy's "charms". But I agree, the best way to get a good read on a situation is by hearing from all involved from their POVs.

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by khansperac View Post
    The group should have disbanded when Diana left. Berry should have signed Jean as a solo artist . Mary should have also been offered a solo deal. Not sure what could have been done with Cindy.
    Mary wasn't ready to go solo. She's said her confidence was not up to the task. Continuing the group made the most sense, though I do think it's a worthy debate about whether Jean should've joined the group or not. If not, I definitely think she should've been signed as a solo.

    An interesting scenario I've pondered regarding Cindy is what would have happened to Cindy if after Flo was brought back into the group while Motown worked out Cindy's contract situation, Flo had straightened up and decided to get with the program? Motown would have thus bought out Cindy's contract for shits and giggles. Either the label would've had to write that expense off and send Cindy on her merry way (surely not back to the Bluebelles), or perhaps Cindy might have joined the Marvelettes when Gladys left, or the Vandellas when Roz exited. I think Cindy might have made an interesting addition to the Vandellas.

  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    i think that might have played out badly for diana. i'd guess that public perception of the group being forced to disband for her solo aspirations would have been quite negative. there was already a lot of publicity about her ego and the imbalance within the group. that could have really tainted her initial solo efforts.
    Perhaps if Mary was out of a job, but in Khan's scenario, Mary also received a solo deal. That would've gone over much better with the public because it wouldn't have just been Diana solo. Whether or not Cindy would've gotten one is the question.

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