It’s a rags-to-riches saga worthy of a Broadway musical — and in fact it became one, “Dreamgirls.”
The Supremes rose from Detroit’s Brewster housing project to the pinnacle of stardom, becoming the most successful American pop group of the 1960s. The group — Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson — signed with Motown in 1961 and released several flops before finding its footing. Benefiting from the songwriting and production of the Holland-Dozier-Holland team and the support of Motown head Berry Gordy Jr., the Supremes bridged the soul and pop genres and had five consecutive No. 1 singles among their dozen chart-toppers, including “Where Did Our Love Go,” “I Hear a Symphony,” “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”
Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1967 and the billing became Diana Ross and the Supremes. Ross left for her own singing and acting career in 1970 and was replaced by Jean Terrell.
The Supremes continued until 1977, with additional personnel changes but diminishing chart success as the decade proceeded. They were named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
— Richard Cromelin for the Los Angeles Times June 9, 2010