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  1. #1
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    Question John, Paul, George and Ringo VS Diana, Mary, Flo and Cindy

    The Supremes were the most successful Female group in the 1960's and their popularity rivaled that of the Beatles. Looking at it, I am wondering about something that DIDN'T happen in the 1970's. Arguably, Paul and John were the focal points of the Beatles just as Diana was the focal point as the lead singer. Still as the 1970's progressed ALL of the Beatles had successful solo careers, even George and Ringo had successful solo careers. What is the difference with the Supremes? Was it sexism, racism, Motown, Diana needing to always the focal point? Surely, Florence was considered that she was arguably the most vocally talented technically so it wasn't a matter of talent. Her dismissal and her relationship with Motown may have had more to do with it than any question of her talent. Plus, she couldn't say she was a Supreme in her release agreement. Even Paul, John, George and Ringo clearly capitalized on their former band. Was her lack of success due to her very personal issues that came to light in the 1980's or was ABC recording her as a favor to Gordy to circumvent any success she may have[[rumored that she was told it was not a good job to switch labels and that ABC president was a golfing buddy of Gordy's). Mary had a beautiful voice ideally suited for ballads, rock and standards. She was arguably extremely beautiful with much stage charisma. Mary lacked confidence once Gordy told her she "couldn't sing". Her stunning contralto wasn't the best fit for the songs the Supremes were known for [[although she was co-lead on 3 singles in the 1970's). Her looks and voice could have easily been utilized by Motown to make her their flagship balladeer. Once solo, she was given dance music and released after 1 album. Clearly, by the 1980's, many labels didn't know her talent and she herself said many record execs wondered if she could sing. I think Motown singling out Diana so extensively did not help. Purely, they were all talented with charisma and voices. Cindy embodied glamour and was a good fit for the DRATS years. I simply think if Ringo Starr could have top 40 hits, why not Cindy Birdsong? Was Diana too much the focal point, did Motown push her too much as the only star in the Supremes? Clearly, Mary, Flo and Cindy [[not to mention Jean, Scherrie, Susaye & Lynda) all had the talent to become solo successes. I know it is a coulda woulda shoulda case, but it does make you make you wonder. Thoughts? And please be respectful of all 8 of these wonderful talents.
    Last edited by jim aka jtigre99; 11-07-2021 at 03:55 PM.

  2. #2
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    I've said many times that the Supremes should've launched three successful solo careers. I think Diana on the singles was genius. I also think there was room in the discography for an occasional Flo and/or Mary led single. The Supremes worked from the beginning because each lady had a certain something about her that just fit...the Supremes. And had Motown cultivated this group identity throughout the entire time I think there was room for Diana to be Diana, and the other ladies to be themselves as well, so that when the time came for the last show, each lady would be in position to make money for themselves and for the company.

    I opine that Diana could've launched out into her superstar career without pushing Flo and Mary to the side. I also opine that neither Flo nor Mary were going to be the type of solo artist that Diana was. Diana had her own unique talent. So did Flo. So did Mary. And they could have all found their own solo success in the early 70s, with varying degrees of success, I'm sure. The fact that Ringo Starr left the Beatles and had big hits but supposedly Flo and Mary never could have achieved that leaves me shaking my head. The original Supremes story will always be one I consider to be a travesty that it didn't play out better for all involved.

  3. #3
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    I agree. There was absolutely no reason why Flo or Mary couldn't at the very least get a B-side. It seemed like originally they were trying to market the Supremes individually up until about mid 1965 and then after the Copa, it seems that's when it became all about Diana. Unfortunately the boss had tunnel vision.

  4. #4
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    The Beatles also wrote their own songs and played their own instruments.

  5. #5
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    Ringo didn't write much, but he managed to stay on good terms by and large with John, Paul and George after the Beatles broke up and they played on some of his recordings and give songs they each wrote to him. Also he played on their solo recordings.

  6. #6
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    i def think part of it was sexism. even today there's still a degree of it in the record industry. also because the Sups didn't write and produce, their accomplishments are often dismissed as being less or of lesser weight.

    Motown also invested heavily in DIANA ROSS and so as time went on and her success continued, it began to sort of downplay the others' roles. look at some of the compilation sets in the 80s where you had DIANA ROSS is bigger font. or her picture was much larger. they helped create and then perpetuate the concept that the group "The Supremes" was simply a stepping stone for Diana.

    This revisionist history has eroded their story and added to the dismissive approach from the industry and general public.

  7. #7
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    Something happened after the Copa where Gordy decided to focus only on Diana. I remember reading Flo saying that he followed her around filming her with a camera in Europe. It's clear at one point he was interested in focusing on all 3 of them. It's a shame it didn't stay that way.

  8. #8
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    I think it was the trip to Asia that Gordy followed her with the camera.

    My thoughts, and i don't mean this disparagingly on M or F, is that Diana was such an oddity when it came to work ethic and dedication. she was really the only motowner that could equal Gordy in such a single mindedness of career pursuit. M and F were talented but more "normal" in that they weren't consumed with perfection or reaching the stratosphere. they were more interested in what we today call work-life balance.

    Gordy saw this early in Diana which is why he was willing to continually push and focus on the Sups even when they couldn't BUY a hit lol.

    then when they did hit and he saw the superstar crossover appeal, his focus tightened on diana.

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