Today in Music History: The Supremes land their first #1 hit (August 16)

August 16, 1964 – The Supremes land their first #1 hit

Formed in modest fashion by a group of teenage girls from Detroit's Brewster housing project, the Supremes went on to become Motown's biggest act of the 60s and the most successful "girl group" of an era. But it wasn’t a sure thing in 1964, with two years of unsuccessful singles after being signed by Motown leader Berry Gordy, Jr. Trimmed to a trio by then, Diane (later Diana) Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson needed a hit, and so Gordy teamed them up and coming writers/producers Holland-Dozier-Holland. The result was a match made in heaven.

August 16, 1964 – The Supremes land their first #1 hit

Formed in modest fashion by a group of teenage girls from Detroit's Brewster housing project, the Supremes went on to become Motown's biggest act of the 60s and the most successful "girl group" of an era. But it wasn’t a sure thing in 1964, with two years of unsuccessful singles after being signed by Motown leader Berry Gordy, Jr. Trimmed to a trio by then, Diane (later Diana) Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson needed a hit, and so Gordy teamed them up and coming writers/producers Holland-Dozier-Holland. The result was a match made in heaven.

The first collaboration, "Where Did Our Love Go," shot #1 on the Pop and Soul charts and established the recipe for the group's success over the next half decade. Though the song was originally written with the idea the Mary Wilson would sing lead, Gordy had determined that Ross was the group’s de facto lead vocalist, and she performed the song admirably at the lower end of her vocal range.

The success of “Where Did Our Love Go” jumpstarted the group’s career, leading to several television and major concert appearances. It also was the templact for a series of uncomplicated, deceptively infectious singles that highlighted Ross's wispy voice and sing-songy backing vocals by Ballard and Wilson.  The group released an unprecedented five straight #1 singles in a one year span, including "Baby Love," "Stop! In the Name of Love," "Come See About Me" and "Back In My Arms Again."

While drama would engulf the group later on, with the firing of Ballard from the act and, later, Ross’s departure for a solo career, but The Supremes had quite a run of now classic hits, and they all began with this all-time favorite single, on this day in 1964.

By Chris Rizik

 
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