On January 20, 1988 the Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Supremes rose from the poverty of Detroit’s Brewster housing project to become Motown’s most consistent hitmakers and the most popular female group of the Sixties. The Supremes sang in a polished style that bridged the worlds of pop and soul. Their greatest success came with songs tailor-made for them by Motown’s peerless in-house writing and production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland (see “Holland-Dozier-Holland”). Under the watchful eye of Motown founder Berry Gordy, the partnership between the Supremes and Holland-Dozier-Holland yielded an astounding run of Number One hits at mid-decade. In June 1965, they set a record for the most consecutive Number One hits by an American group when “Back in My Arms Again” rose to the top of the Billboard singles chart. The other hits in that streak were “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me” and “Stop! In the Name of Love”.
This milestone is all the more impressive because it occurred at the height of the British Invasion – a period when beat groups from abroad otherwise ruled the charts. The Supremes were America’s ingenues, exuding a stylish charm and soulfulness that appealed across the board to black and white listeners at a time when racial divides were coming down. Known in-house as Motown’s “sweethearts,” Berry Gordy saw the potential in them from the beginning: “All three girls had qualities so unique I’d often think: ‘If they could make us feel the way we do, what could they do to the world at large?’” he wrote in his autobiography, To Be Loved. The answer to that question is that not only did the Supremes come to epitomize the Motown sound, they earned a place in music history as singers and showgirls whose popularity in the Sixties was second only to the Beatles’.
For more information see Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Biography.
For more information, see The Supremes : a saga of Motown dreams, success, and betrayal / Mark Ribowsky. Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, c2009.