Monday, Mar. 09, 2009

Not So Supreme After All...

They skyrocketed to fame in the 60s under the direction of Motown's Berry Gordy, but Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong — otherwise known as the Supremes — didn't make it very far into the 70s, playing their final show in January 1970 after a falling-out within the group. Their journey together was filled with bumps from the beginning, when Gordy replaced one-third of the original group — Florence Ballard was ousted in favor of Birdsong — and, knowing a star when he saw one, later renaming the trio Diana Ross & The Supremes. Ross eventually departed the group to pursue a solo career.

But in 2000, it seemed that Ross was ready to make nice and stage a comeback — if, of course, Wilson and Birdsong were willing to accept millions less than her for their work. Both women declined, but Ross was undeterred and instead toured with Linda Laurence and Scherrie Payne, two women who had been members of the Supremes after Ross' departure and continued to perform in recent years as Former Ladies of the Supremes. Regardless, the reunion was largely unsuccessful; some venues were filled to less than 20% of capacity. About halfway through, promoters decided to cancel the rest of the tour, a move which Ross later said caught her completely by surprise.

Read "A Brief History of Motown"