[REMOVE ADS]




Results 1 to 23 of 23
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    378
    Rep Power
    137

    1970-Motown & The Supremes

    I have been looking in hindsight at Motown in 1970 and the Supremes, and I have a few opinions[[that are definitely just my own). As much as I love the Supremes and that Up The Ladder to the Roof was the first song I ever bought, Motown had really sealed the fate of the group. I looked at it from Motown's perpsective. Motown had already been using the name of the Supremes since 1967 to launch Diana Ross' solo career when it changed the name to Diana Ross & The Supremes. The mass public still had the group name that it loved out there, but it was different and all done to showcase Diana Ross. The original group was over in 1967, when Florence was gone and replaced by Cindy Birdsong. Cindy resembled Florence but did not have her loud, bombastic voice, although she seemed more comfortable with their new, more elaborate glamour image. She managed to visually and vocally blend with Mary Wilson and they were used as visual and vocal backdrops to Diana Ross until 1970. Plus, the Andantes were used on recordings as backing vocalists far more, getting people more used to Diana Ross rather than the established group sound, even if the Andantes had been used prior to "sweeten" vocals, there was an established group sound prior to the name change. In 1970, Motown had clearly been behind Ross, featuring her prominently and they were behind her in her solo endeavor to prove they were not wrong to single her out. Motown had a loyalty to the group name, they saw its worth to use it to help Ross the past few years to establish her as a solo while in the Supremes framework. In 1970, there was only one original member that Motown would have any loyalty to-Mary Wilson. Cindy had done a great job replacing Florence, so I am sure there was also some loyalty to her for coming in during a difficult time and doing such an excellent job. Still, by this time it was only Mary that Motown would really be loyal to because of her status as an original member and their long history together. Gordy had chosen Jean Terrell as the new lead singer, so he must have been impressed with her voice. While Ross was far more pliable and distinctive as a singer, arguably Terrell was a better singer. Still, when she was announced Gordy saw her onstage with the group and had wanted to replace her with Syreeta, which did not happen. I am just thinking Gordy saw that Terrell did not possess the razzle dazzle stage presence that Ross had [[even though he clearly liked her voice) and in my opinion she did not have the stage presence that even Wilson and Birdsong had. If they wanted to replace her, Motown clearly had no loyalty to her and were not going to be behind her to make her a success. By 1970, Motown clearly was out to exploit the name from its familiarity with the record buying public and the mass public who saw them on television. No matter how good the songs were, how well they kept up their stage shows and what they did on television, Motown wasn't going to focus on the Supremes, they were going to use the name to get what they could like they did from 1967 on. Clearly, Motown was loyal to Ross and seeing her succeed first and foremost. I think this would be what the perspective of Motown as company would be-they had their main name group lose its identifiable lead singer with only one member from its origins, one who had been there 2-3 years and a brand new lead singer who they secretly wanted to replace. Motown lavished the group with gowns during the 1967-on era yet in 1970 they were refitting the new group in the old gowns rather than focusing on new gowns and/or new looks for a completely new grouping, that alone showed that they were not putting money and the push behind this new grouping. For me,personally, the 70's Supremes were who got me into Motown and I followed them and all their members because I was so impressed with their voices, looks and style. I also followed Ross and thought she was terrific and went back and bought what she recorded with the group as well as her new solo efforts. So, in my opinion, Motown no longer had as much loyalty to the group, they were going to make money off of its name and use what they could get from the new groups talent but they were clearly not focused with a clear vision to take the group beyond and into new territory, there was no long term plan for the group now. It was use the name, use their talents and just see what will work and go from there. Plus, I have to say no matter who was in the group they were focused on Ross because they had chosen her and had she failed it wouldn't have said much to singling her out and pushing her, the company push was really behind her because her success would mean more to the company. Mary had been a very loyal and long term employee but Motown never seemed impressed with her and Gordy told her she "couldn't sing". Cindy was somewhat relatively new and was rarely used in the studio prior to 1970, so the company loyalty to her was even less than to Mary. I think on record, Terrell ran circles around many singers in the company but she was new and opinionated. I would think if the company was behind her, there would have been a huge amount of publicity behind who was going to replace the well known lead singer in their top group but I don't recall seeing much publicity about Terrell in that manner. I get that it was now a group group again, but public curiosity about the new lead singer should have been very big and played up if the company was behind the new group. I just new now they were really only out to make what money they could from the group name using the talents of the replacements without much expenditure for the group. At least, looking at it now from a company perspective, I think that is where their mindsight was. As fans, when we reflect we see so much missed opportunities from the company regarding the group and how its new chapter should have been handled.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    20,556
    Rep Power
    339
    The Supremes got ads in all the trade publications for all their singles and they got a single released before Diana.

    But as Mary said, the albums never sold well right from the get go.

    When Lady and Marvin and Stevie exploded and the Supremes started fighting amongst themselves, they weren’t going to get a lot of Support.

    They were responsible for their shows and the gowns and when the money stopped coming in, they couldn’t invest in a new look or new wardrobe,

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    378
    Rep Power
    137
    I wouldn't say the Supremes were completely ignored, it does seem they did not get treated the same as when Diana Ross was in the group. They were no longer the #1 priority in the company. Far from it. Diana Ross was. Motown was more interested in the Jackson 5 and even the Temptations. It was no longer the same 3 members from the start, rather only one with a brand new replacement for the lead singer who was being promoted heavily by the company as a soloist. A few trade ads was far less than the support they received prior from the company.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    2,650
    Rep Power
    160
    Berry didn't want Jean... Mary did..he said he washed his hands of the group and he meant it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,505
    Rep Power
    189
    The real shift in the group came in 1964 when "Where Did Our Love Go" hit. When you look at "Meet the Supremes" and "Where Did Our Love Go", it's definitely a girl GROUP sound. Listen to "Long Gone Lover". Diana, Mary, and Flo get an almost equal spotlight. But then the formula changed; Diana as the lead, Mary and Flo in the background. So while it was still a group, they dynamic shifted.

    But to the point of this thread, I still have never really wrapped my head around the lack of new stagewear. YES, there are lots of examples where the 70's Supremes got new gowns, but nowhere near the amount the Diana-lead grouping/s received. Perhaps some of it was, DMF and DMC were CONTANSTATLY on tv. And you can't wear on Sullivan what you wore on the Hollywood Palace. In the 70's, the group was on tv less and less. But here's my real comment, and I have said this 1000 times: you can walk into Macy's right now and find three matching gowns for about $100.00 - $200.00 each. Of course, these aren't going to be Mackie or Travis creations, but still stage quality dresses for a FRACTION of cost. And I imagine 40 and 50 years ago, those $100.00 and $200.00 dresses were $50.00 and $100.00. So the group didn't have $150.00 to invest in new outfits?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,761
    Rep Power
    191
    actually the new group really did have about the same about of gowns that DRATS got.

    between 1967 and end of 69, they had 31 outfits [[that we know of). to 10 a year, give or take. I'm not 100% certain of the exact date of every outfit but i'm going back to the DMF dark blue gowns from Andy Williams in Jan 67.

    between 70 - 72, they had 21. Although all but 3 or so are from 70 and 71. so they were still roughly 10 a year until the MJL lineup. then things slowed considerably.

    but then once Scherrie came on they had an additional 20 gowns.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,761
    Rep Power
    191
    now i know that i've often stated on here that Jean didn't have the presence of Diana. but i ran across this clip again and have to amend my opinion a little. it's a bit of MJC live onstage [[i think) in Aug 71 at Niles, IL. but not 100% sure.

    Anyway, Jean is really cooking here and appears quite animated on stage. sure not quite as over the top as Diana but still very strong.

    But stage work is very different from tv. and interacting with talk show hosts and other celebs. so maybe that would be where Jean wasn't as comfortable

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Posts
    6,052
    Rep Power
    114
    I personally believe it's hogwash that Gordy saw Jean at the Farewell and decided he didn't want to go there. Maybe Gordy of 1964 would've done that, but by 1970 Gordy was a well seasoned music biz vet, having personally overseen the superstardom that was the Supremes. Had there been something about Jean that he felt made her a poor choice to replace Diana, he would have seen it long before the Farewell. Not to mention at the Farewell all she did was get onstage to say hello and receive flowers. If that's all it took to be convinced that she was all wrong for the job, he would have discovered that within the first few minutes of introducing Jean to Mary and Cindy months ago.

    Gordy wanted out and he was smooth enough to concoct this middle of the night scheme of calling Mary and putting the ball in her court. I think he knew that 1970 Mary wasn't going to roll over like 1965 Mary might have done. When Mary did exactly what he thought she'd do- refuse the change- he had his excuse when anyone might ask why the Supremes was no longer his baby. He was the boss. He certainly didn't need Mary Wilson's permission to keep or fire Jean Terrell if he really cared to do one or the other.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Posts
    4,588
    Rep Power
    102
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    now i know that i've often stated on here that Jean didn't have the presence of Diana. but i ran across this clip again and have to amend my opinion a little. it's a bit of MJC live onstage [[i think) in Aug 71 at Niles, IL. but not 100% sure.

    Anyway, Jean is really cooking here and appears quite animated on stage. sure not quite as over the top as Diana but still very strong.

    But stage work is very different from tv. and interacting with talk show hosts and other celebs. so maybe that would be where Jean wasn't as comfortable

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmgFBSmoLmc
    What a nice clip to find! Thanks for the discovery. Those are the costumes the Supremes wore at the Royal Box in NYC -

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,505
    Rep Power
    189
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    actually the new group really did have about the same about of gowns that DRATS got.

    between 1967 and end of 69, they had 31 outfits [[that we know of). to 10 a year, give or take. I'm not 100% certain of the exact date of every outfit but i'm going back to the DMF dark blue gowns from Andy Williams in Jan 67.

    between 70 - 72, they had 21. Although all but 3 or so are from 70 and 71. so they were still roughly 10 a year until the MJL lineup. then things slowed considerably.

    but then once Scherrie came on they had an additional 20 gowns.
    I don't dispute your research, but if that's the case, then 21 new sets weren't nearly enough if there are dozens or maybe hundreds of examples of JMC and JML wearing DMC gowns. You wouldn't have caught Diana dead in 1969 wearing a Flo era gown.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,505
    Rep Power
    189
    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    What a nice clip to find! Thanks for the discovery. Those are the costumes the Supremes wore at the Royal Box in NYC -
    Mary is serving it to you on a platter!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,761
    Rep Power
    191
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    I personally believe it's hogwash that Gordy saw Jean at the Farewell and decided he didn't want to go there. Maybe Gordy of 1964 would've done that, but by 1970 Gordy was a well seasoned music biz vet, having personally overseen the superstardom that was the Supremes. Had there been something about Jean that he felt made her a poor choice to replace Diana, he would have seen it long before the Farewell. Not to mention at the Farewell all she did was get onstage to say hello and receive flowers. If that's all it took to be convinced that she was all wrong for the job, he would have discovered that within the first few minutes of introducing Jean to Mary and Cindy months ago.

    Gordy wanted out and he was smooth enough to concoct this middle of the night scheme of calling Mary and putting the ball in her court. I think he knew that 1970 Mary wasn't going to roll over like 1965 Mary might have done. When Mary did exactly what he thought she'd do- refuse the change- he had his excuse when anyone might ask why the Supremes was no longer his baby. He was the boss. He certainly didn't need Mary Wilson's permission to keep or fire Jean Terrell if he really cared to do one or the other.
    i'm not dismissing mary's version of the story. But i find it a bit odd that there would be this sudden change early in the morning on Jan 15, 70. IMO clearly something had been building - as Berry was working with the group [[if he even really was very much), Jean was a very headstrong person. so she wasn't going to simply follow his order. I have to believe there were discussions along the way leading up to Jan 15.

    the limited commentary we have from Cindy on this was, following the big farewell, B and M and C met and had a big blowup about things. again, i can't see this as an impulsive move.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,761
    Rep Power
    191
    Quote Originally Posted by marybrewster View Post
    I don't dispute your research, but if that's the case, then 21 new sets weren't nearly enough if there are dozens or maybe hundreds of examples of JMC and JML wearing DMC gowns. You wouldn't have caught Diana dead in 1969 wearing a Flo era gown.
    oh ho ho Mary!! lol you are wrong! lol hehehe

    DMC wore those white gowns with the gold and pearl diagonal stripes on them until late 68. So those are 2 years old. there are a bunch of pics of them and Diana is sporting than pixie afro wig from LC and Shame lol

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,761
    Rep Power
    191
    oh and another thing! there are pics of Diana from the Surrender album wearing a sequin daisy dress [[there's a stunning pic in the EE for this album of her in it) and this gown was from late 67. There's a clip of DMC in a rehearsal for the Tennessee Ernie Ford special and they're doing the closing. they girls are each testing out different gowns and Diana is wearning this Daisy number.

    now that brings about the question - are there/were there 2 other Daisy gowns? or was it just hers? were they toying with the idea of the girls all wearing individual glam outfits? who knows

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,761
    Rep Power
    191
    also they were buying new outfits for the DMC lineup through late 69. those orange and yellow pants suits were one of the final ones they got.

    Also GIT was taped in Sept 69 and i believe the gowns worn in that special were all created FOR that special. Some of the TCB gowns were new but some had been used a little prior.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    1,808
    Rep Power
    107
    That was the opening not the closing
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    oh and another thing! there are pics of Diana from the Surrender album wearing a sequin daisy dress [[there's a stunning pic in the EE for this album of her in it) and this gown was from late 67. There's a clip of DMC in a rehearsal for the Tennessee Ernie Ford special and they're doing the closing. they girls are each testing out different gowns and Diana is wearning this Daisy number.

    now that brings about the question - are there/were there 2 other Daisy gowns? or was it just hers? were they toying with the idea of the girls all wearing individual glam outfits? who knows

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,505
    Rep Power
    189
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    oh ho ho Mary!! lol you are wrong! lol hehehe

    DMC wore those white gowns with the gold and pearl diagonal stripes on them until late 68. So those are 2 years old. there are a bunch of pics of them and Diana is sporting than pixie afro wig from LC and Shame lol
    Touch. Or, touche'. LOL.

    However Diana wearing a 2 year old gown can't stack up against Mary wearing a 20 year old gown. She got her monies worth well into the 1980's. Maybe even 1990's.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,505
    Rep Power
    189
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    i'm not dismissing mary's version of the story. But i find it a bit odd that there would be this sudden change early in the morning on Jan 15, 70. IMO clearly something had been building - as Berry was working with the group [[if he even really was very much), Jean was a very headstrong person. so she wasn't going to simply follow his order. I have to believe there were discussions along the way leading up to Jan 15.

    the limited commentary we have from Cindy on this was, following the big farewell, B and M and C met and had a big blowup about things. again, i can't see this as an impulsive move.
    I wonder if something happened THAT NIGHT, when Jean was brought onstage. Maybe the reception wasn't what Berry expected when he brought Jean up in her pixie wig and knock off Mackie? Maybe Diana thought Jean was too much competition? As it was, the "new" Supremes hit it out of the gate while Diana tripped on her train. Recovered nicely, of course.

    By this time, JMC had been well into recording; something quickly changed his mind.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,761
    Rep Power
    191
    Quote Originally Posted by marybrewster View Post
    Touch. Or, touche'. LOL.

    However Diana wearing a 2 year old gown can't stack up against Mary wearing a 20 year old gown. She got her monies worth well into the 1980's. Maybe even 1990's.
    yeah i've always been torn with the reusing of the old gowns. some of them are so classic that i don't mind it. some though were too dated. I think there were other options, especially for the MSS lineup they could have explored.

    one time while watching some of the DVD extras for Dreamgirls, the costume designer talked about the items she created for the movie. and she said that while there was SOME influence from the Supremes, she took more from Cher and Donna Summer. Frankly she thought the Sups look was a bit too modest and wanted [[and i agree with her) to have a more modern interpretation of the fashions of that time.

    if you look at the gowns, there were a few halter top styles but overall they really were much more covered up. at least until mid 70s. MSS tried to spice things up a little by wearing the Jesus robes quite open, but frankly that look didn't really work since there was SOOOOOOOO much excessive fabric in those outfits. just swamped S and S. and they looked so heavy and bulky. maybe if the base material had been more sheer and lightweight.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,761
    Rep Power
    191
    Quote Originally Posted by marybrewster View Post
    I wonder if something happened THAT NIGHT, when Jean was brought onstage. Maybe the reception wasn't what Berry expected when he brought Jean up in her pixie wig and knock off Mackie? Maybe Diana thought Jean was too much competition? As it was, the "new" Supremes hit it out of the gate while Diana tripped on her train. Recovered nicely, of course.

    By this time, JMC had been well into recording; something quickly changed his mind.
    well that was sort of my point. According to mary's book, the phone call she received that night came across as a total surprise. as if she was completely caught off guard that he would want to do that.

    my thought it this seems suspect. of course i wasn't there. but i would think there would have been SOME indication prior. had jean and berry been arguing more and more in the studio? could mary see that berry was growing irritated?

    she mentions that she had noticed that berry was having more difficulty getting jean to follow his every word. but she wrote it off thinking that she would be dealing with jean more than he would.

    would be very interesting to hear more of Cindy's POV on this. Jean hasn't shared anything really negative [[in her dvd video) about this period being tumultuous or having probs with Berry. and Berry's book mentioned nothing of it

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,761
    Rep Power
    191
    there's also the whole line that Mary quote's Berry of "then i wash my hands of the group"

    let's be honest - would it have been any different? even if he and jean were getting along swimmingly? if they accepted syreeta instead?

    during the DMF and DMC years, all of the other acts complained that they really weren't getting the level of support and management from Berry that they wanted. and that's cuz he was focusing on Diana, and during the 60s that meant also focusing on the Supremes

    once Diana went solo, there's no doubt that Berry would be focusing on her solo career and would have been mostly absent from the Sups anyway. mary can't honest believe that berry would have been there following their tours, traveling with them, giving them his endless notes and edits on the show. he was going to be with diana doing all that

    so IMO the outcome of this time period wouldn't have changed

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    7,378
    Rep Power
    210
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    there's also the whole line that Mary quote's Berry of "then i wash my hands of the group"

    let's be honest - would it have been any different? even if he and jean were getting along swimmingly? if they accepted syreeta instead?

    during the DMF and DMC years, all of the other acts complained that they really weren't getting the level of support and management from Berry that they wanted. and that's cuz he was focusing on Diana, and during the 60s that meant also focusing on the Supremes

    once Diana went solo, there's no doubt that Berry would be focusing on her solo career and would have been mostly absent from the Sups anyway. mary can't honest believe that berry would have been there following their tours, traveling with them, giving them his endless notes and edits on the show. he was going to be with diana doing all that

    so IMO the outcome of this time period wouldn't have changed
    Maybe it might have been different. From what I've read, Berry was very fond of Syreeta. Look at how many years she stayed at the company with only one or two hits to show for it. Sure, he wouldn't have had the same interest in the group that he had when Diana was there but he still might have given more input.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5,761
    Rep Power
    191
    it's certainly possible. i don't think though that Berry had a vendetta against the group or wished that they'd fail.

    if you read the other stories, you sort of can see that Berry was VERY particular about who really got his attention. and that was primarily those that REALLY focused on the work, like Diana, and didn't second guess him or his authority. That second point is REALLY important. David Ruffin and martha both really bucked things and the results are clear. mary started to buck things. the J5 complained late in their careers. eddie started to make some waves and then his hits dried up.

    there are some exceptions - steve and marvin fought for their work and won.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

[REMOVE ADS]

Ralph Terrana
MODERATOR

Welcome to Soulful Detroit! Kindly Consider Turning Off Your Ad BlockingX
Soulful Detroit is a free service that relies on revenue from ad display [regrettably] and donations. We notice that you are using an ad-blocking program that prevents us from earning revenue during your visit.
Ads are REMOVED for Members who donate to Soulful Detroit. [You must be logged in for ads to disappear]
DONATE HERE »
And have Ads removed.