Motown 50th anniversary: The 1970s Supremes

The+Supremes++1970

Still Supreme, 1970: From left, Cindy Birdsong, Mary Wilson, Jean Terrell

Reader Steve Weaver pointed out last week that the 1970’s era Supremes – after Diana Ross’ departure – are often unfairly ignored.  And he’s right: although the Supremes had an evolving lineup between 1970 and 1977, the group still managed to put out quality music and even get to the upper reaches of the pop charts.

Even as the Supremes’ final No. 1 single, “Someday We’ll Be Together,” echoed on the nation’s radios, Diana Ross stepped aside and was replaced most ably by Jean Terrell.  Where Ross had a good “pop” voice, Terrell was more appropriately a soul belter – listen to her vocal on the “River Deep, Mountain High” team-up with the Four Tops (1970) and you can see where Terrell’s rougher approach may have been more fitting for the direction that soul music, and popular music in general, was moving in those days.

The Supremes with Terrell scored a bit of chart success, including the singles “Stoned Love” (1970), “Nathan Jones” (1971) and the Smokey Robinson-penned “Floy Joy” (1972).   “Automatically Sunshine,” from the same year, featured Wilson and Terrell sharing lead vocals.  Birdsong then left to have a baby and was replaced by Lynda Laurence, a former backup singer for Stevie Wonder.  Wonder himself wrote and produced the single “Bad Weather” (1973) and it wasn’t a hit – Laurence and Terrell then left.

Mary Wilson and Motown legally owned the Supremes name by this time, and there were a few more personnel changes until the group finally broke up in 1977.  The Supremes had enough gas to get into the disco era, most notably with “He’s My Man” (No. 1 on the Billboard disco charts in 1975) and “Where Do I Go From Here,” written by Brian and Eddie Holland.  There were a number of reunion attempts, including a horrid lineup of Diana Ross/Lynda Laurence/Sherrie Payne (all former Supremes, although none were ever together in the group) in 2000 that fell apart mid-tour.

So the story of the Supremes isn’t all Diana Ross – well into the 1970s they were as “supreme” as ever.

MP3: “River Deep, Mountain High”  with the Four Tops

MP3: “Stoned Love”

MP3: “Nathan Jones”

MP3: “Floy Joy”

MP3: “Automatically Sunshine”

MP3: “Bad Weather”

MP3: “He’s My Man”

MP3: “Where Do I Go From Here”

Motown 50th anniversary official website

64 Responses to “Motown 50th anniversary: The 1970s Supremes”

  1. Steve Weaver Says:

    Well I’m delighted that someone finally responds to members of the public’s views – and promptly too! My only grievance with your well written and mostly correct article is this – though Diana’s choice of not recruiting Mary for the Return to Love tour might have upset some fans, those who were lucky enough to see them as I like to put it “Together again, for the very first time” at the shows that did go ahead (Philadelphia, New York etc.) witnessed a really great show. Those three ladies together made visual and vocal fireworks but don’t take my word for it – just check out all the YouTube clips. Also, Scherrie & Lynda are still out there keeping the Supremes’ legacy alive (Ms. Ross’ words) and their group has been together for twenty-three years now – much longer than any of the Motown line-ups from 1960-77! They’ll be appearing in London at the Hammersmith Apollo with Jack Ashford’s Funk Bros and Thelma Houston on Friday Nov 13.
    Thanks for taking notice WordPress – I’m Impressed!

  2. HI WHAT A GREAT PIECE ON THE SUPREMES 70S GROUP BY A GUY WHO HAS HAD A LIFETIME OF SUPREME EXPERIENCE, AND HAS THE KNOWLEDGE AND TALENT TO HAVE BOTH RECORDED AND SHARED IN THERE GROWTH, WHAT MORE CAN I SAY THAN TO AGREE WITH STEVE THAT, YES THE THE SUPREMES DID SOME AMAZING MATERIAL IN THE 70S AND ARE STILL OUT THERE DOING SOME INCREDIBLE SHOWS , SOMETHING THAT THE FANS TRULY LOVE AND KEEP THE SUPREMES LEGACY ALVE, I MYSELF HAVE WITNESSED THIS SO MANY TIMES, AND STEVE HAS BEEN THERE ALL THEY WAY WITH SUPPORT , GO STEVE AND KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK , YOU LYNDA SCHERRIE AND FREDDIE IN NOVEMBER, A GREAT PIECE ON AGROUP BOTH PAST AND INTO THE PRESENT THAT HAVE CONSTANTLY PRODUCED THE STANDARD EXPECTED AND LOVED BY ALL THE FANS . MAL BOCOTT

  3. The soulful 70’s Supremes. These ladies are the best. The complete duets with the 4 Tops will be out in August! The box set of the Jean Terrell led Supremes is out now, “This Is The Story.” A must have. I followed the ladies from the 1960’s until they disbanded. Susaye and Scherrie were stellar on PARTNERS. Motown never gave them the respect due and een still, on the Motown site, the story of the Supremes has a picture of Jean, Mary and Cindy but the story is all about the Ross led group. I’m glad there are those of us still out there that appreciate their talents.

  4. While I will agree that the 70s Supremes made some good music, it was not great. Terrell was a beautiful singer but not suitable as a lead singer for the Supremes. If you listen carefully to the Supremes, it was evident that Terrell was really a soloist with two background singers. Terrell had her own style but it was not for the Supremes, it was better suited for herself.

    The music was always the stronger of the Supremes not their voices. Wilson and Birdsong were weak and not distinguishable compared to Wilson and Ballard. That is why, you do not hear the Supremes well in Nathan Jones; it could have been any two.

  5. Garato McBeth Says:

    There were 7 Supremes: Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, Cindy Birdsong, Lynda Laurence, Sherrie Payne and Susaye Greene.
    I am a fan of the Supreme legacy period. All of these ladies need to search their hearts and put aside anything that might prevent them from getting together. The Supremes gave to the fans by singing about love, unity and togetherness. I believe that God is waiting for all of the Supremes to come together as one and spread love among one another by having a televised reunion so the whole world to see. Despite of what tribulations we may go through in life. the power of love through the God Almighty come overcome anything. Please, all of these ladies are in their late fifties and thier late sixties. It is time for them to come together before they leave this earth. Someone please get in contact with Suzanne Depasse, Berry Gordy, Oprah Winfrey and Smokey Robinson to see if they can come up with some kind of special project committee. The world will love to see all of the Supremes show their love among one another; especially Diana Ross and Mary Wilson. This reunion can be called: “Someday We’ll Be Together (A Supreme Legacy)”

  6. Steve Weaver Says:

    Mr. McBeth,
    What about JEAN TERRELL..? There were 8 Supremes, not 7.

  7. Thank you for interesting infomation.Music

  8. steve weaver was correct in saying that the show was a good one. i caught the supremes Return to Love tour in NYC at Madison Square and it was terrific. His only mis quote-was that Wilson and Birdsong were asked to be a part of the show, but felt why should Ross be offered more money than they were. Wilson was always my favorite in the group but she proved by her actions that it was about the money and not as she always professed about the fans.

  9. Thanks been trying to get this song for a while. the Supremes were a great group with hit after hit, I can’t recall a bad Supremes song.

    Regards

    Rhod

  10. Laurence and Payne should have never even been considered for the Return to Love tour. You could barely even see them let alone hear them on that stage and they had absolutely no chemistry or vocal blend with Diana. Diana screwed both Mary and Cindy as well as true Supremes fans with her ridiculous ego. What could and should have been a glorious and triumphant reunion turned to mud after 11 shows. Pathetic.

  11. Steve Weaver Says:

    Well, of course we’re all entitled to our opinions. I don’t know where you were sitting but I was up close and also at the Oprah launch show in Chicago. Believe me, there was chemistry and vocally hey blended perfectly. We all have our favourite Supremes and eras. There isn’t one ultimate Supremes line-up that had all the hits and accolades because the group continually evolved, and today we should be thankful that there are still members of the group out there who don’t want to ‘dish the dirt’ but rather sing and authentically celebrate their legacy. It’s sad (I think) that Wilson had to sell her warts and all version of what she allegedly saw and encountered. There’s a lot of backstage stuff that fans and the public don’t really need (or want) to know. These days Ross and Wilson might as well be on separate planets because of what happened back in the 80’s and frankly seeing them on-stage together would be one ‘chemistry’ lesson I would certainly have missed because it would only have ended just like the Motown 25 mic snatching, face slapping fiasco did. The reason I posted my comments at the top of this page is because it p*sses me off that Jean, Cindy, Lynda, Scherrie & Susaye so often get overlooked/forgotten. I am happy though that Motown is releasing “Let Yourself Go” the Scherrie Payne years very soon. The boxed set has been put together by the guys at Hip-O-Select who also did the excellent ‘This Is The Story’ the Jean Terrell years. Anyway, what I really want to say is, whoever your favourite (or least favourite) Supreme is – just enjoy the incredible wealth of material that the eight ladies made for all of us to enjoy! It’s just such a damn shame that there wasn’t a lot more documented about all of them on video or film but thank God we now have YouTube to trawl through!!!

  12. I totally agree with Steve’s posting dated Sept 12 09.
    The 70’s Supremes are always being neglected and very rarely acknowleged (see websites that always concentrate on 60’s era).
    My ideal reunion would be of all the girls on stage with equal billing with a very befitting tribute to Florence.
    I have the Jean Terrell years album and can’t wait for the Sherrie years to be issued. I will then be able to complete in full my own discography
    (have all the released and some unreleased recordings from Pretty Baby to Let Yourself Go and B sides of the hits) – sounds a bit sad but they are simply supreme.

    My opinion of the best line ups are
    MDF
    MCJ
    MLJ
    MCS
    MSS
    Plus like the Former Ladies line ups

  13. As one reviewer put it, the vocal combination of Diana, Mary and Flo was nothing short of a planetary alignment. This was the group at its zenith and yes, this lineup of the Supremes received all the hits and accolades. The majority of fans and industry observers believes the buck stops here. We will throw in Cindy Birdsong as a courtesy because she was with the group in its 60’s heyday and she brought a soft, velvety sound to the group blend (when we were allowed to actually hear it). For all practical purposes, the group went South after that. With the exception of a few flashes in the pan during the Terrell years (Up the Ladder and Stoned Love…maybe Nathan Jones), the Supremes and what you call its “legacy” were over. “He’s My Man” was a good song but it could have been better promoted and besides, it just didn’t sound like the Supremes.

    As for the Return to Love show, I boycotted it like any fan true to the original 1960’s group with or minus Cindy Birdsong. We do not consider any other singers to be “The Supremes.” Yes, Scherrie and Lynda were technically “Supremes” at one time, but latter-day Supremes (kind of like Shelley Hack and Tanya Roberts were latter-day Charlie’s Angels). We don’t consider them “The” Supremes. Return to Love is like Kate Jackson going out as “Charlie’s Angels” without Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd.

    I have seen the Return to Love show on DVD and I sped right through it. Of course it was a good show. Diana Ross does not put on a bad show. Sure, Lynda and Scherrie are excellent singers and I’m sure they are very nice ladies, but they aren’t The Supremes. I didn’t see or hear one good case of 3-part harmony and I know for a fact that the background singers in the dark did most of the vocal work. Why Lynda and Scherrie were considered is a mystery to me (Oh yeah, they don’t fight for what’s right like Mary or Cindy and all they did was smile and agree with whatever Diana said). And I don’t buy that line about the promoters holding anything over Diana’s head by pressuring her to sign any 3 year contract. SFX pulled the tour because they weren’t filling seats…period. Believe me, if Mary and Cindy were on that bill, they could have easily toured for 3 years anyway, so that is a mute point.

    Yes, all 8 Supremes were and are very talented singers but unfortunately there isn’t much of a legacy to keep alive anymore.

  14. moot point (sorry!)

  15. Phillip B. Shamas Says:

    There were eight Supremes in total, Diane Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Cindy Birdsong, Jean Terrell, Lynda Lawrence, Scherrie Payne (the little lady with the BIG voice) AND last but not least Susaye Greene. And yes, RTL was magnificent even without Mary and Cindy…Cindy still remains friends with the other Supremes even though Mary has chosen to distance herself from the ladies. And they are doing very well as now they are called the Former Supremes…recently Joyce Vincent Wilson joined Scherrie and Lynda to “Keep the music playing” as stated per Diana Ross…and honey they iz good! Personally, I miss Jean Terrell. No one can match her angelic voice and she contributed so much to the group. It would have been wonderful if the reformed Former Ladies of the Supremes, Jean Terrell, Cindy Birdsong, and Scherrie Payne had stayed together…but time rolls on!

  16. Steve Weaver Says:

    I’ll try and update those interested in Jean Terrell who, to me and countless others was the most incredible/versatile/underrated vocalist that The Supremes ever had. So, what’s she doing now? Well, she finally got a settlement on her lawsuit against Motown – having not received any royalties for many years. This is not an unusual event – many artists of that era and before are still waiting for their rightful dues to be paid. Jean is happy and living in Los Angeles close to LAX in her beautiful home. She is a devout Jehovas Witness and regularly attends her Kingdom Hall. Sadly for us, she has no aspirations to return to the music business, and she told Lynda Laurence recently that it was all ‘So long ago’ and she is a different person now. I just wish that Motown had realised just waht an incredible singer Jean was, and she should have spent much more time in the studio instead of being relentlessly on the road back in the early 70’s. Though she’s know to be not as approachable as Scherrie & Lynda, I must say that the times I’ve spent with her were all fantastic and we shared some great times. I miss her but as the song goes – ‘Time Changes Things’ though not always for the better… That said, I still (and always will) thank Scherrie & Lynda for keeping the Supremes’ legacy alive and look forward to their completely new CD that will be out llater this year. For info, click on http://www.ScherriePayneAndLyndaLaurence.com

  17. The late 70’s Supremes CD set will be called The Supremes the final Sessions, not the Scherrie Payne Years as originally planned, it was rumored Mary was not happy with that title and wanted the project with no top billing.

  18. Steve Weaver Says:

    No top billing? Why? Jean was lead singer 1970-73 and Scherrie 73-77. No-one can change that fact. The title should be what was originally announced – ‘Let Yourself Go – The Scherrie Payne Years’ especially as it is Scherrie’s lead vocal on their last chart hit in ’76 ‘Let My Heart Do The Walking’ and it was her lead vocal on 90% of anything Motown released by the Supremes in that era. I’m really dissapointed.

  19. Steve Weaver Says:

    To Frances – Where did you get the information from about the title? I’d really like to know. Thanks, SW.

  20. I BOUGHT MY FIRST SUPREMES SINGLE IN 1975, HES MY MAN, AND BEFORE THIS TIME, I REALLY WASNT ASUPREMES FAN, FINDING THERE MATERIAL A LITTLE TO MIDDLE OF THE ROAD , WHEN COMPARING OTHER FEMALE GROUPS OF THE ERA, LABELLE AND THE EMOTIONS TO NAME A COUPLE, BUT WHEN I FIRST HEARD THE NEW LEAD SINGER ,SCHERRIE PAYNE, I WAS HOOKED, WHAT AN AMAZING VOCALIST, AND A REAL BONUS TO THE GROUP, I HAVE CONTINUED TO FOLOW THEM TO THIS DAY, THE THE NEXT 2 SINGLES WHERE DO WE GO FROM HEAR (MY AL L TIME FAVE) AGAIN WITH THE POWER HOUSE VOCALS OF SCHERRIE PAYNE WAS A KILLER TRACK, MARY TOOK THE LEAD ON EARLY MORNING LOVE, AND ALTHOUGH GOOD WAS NOT A INSTANT AS THE OTHER TWO SINGLES, THE LAST 3 SINGLES FOR ME WHERE THE BEST , IM GONNA LET MY HEART DO THE WALKING BEING A TOP DISCO TRACK, I WENT BACK AND BOUGHT ALL THE EARLIER 70S SINGLES WITH JEAN TERRELL, BUT FOR ME THE LATE YEARS 1975 /77, WERE MY FAVOURITES, I HAVE NOTICED OVER THE YEARS THAT THESE YEARS HAVE BEEN BADLY REPRESENTED AND MOTOWN HAVE ALMOST IGNORED THESE CLASIC ALBUMS FROM CD RELEASE, SO IT WAS WITH GREAT JOY THAT I HEARD THE SUPREMES “THE SCHERRIE PAYNE YEARS” WAS GOING TO BE RELEASED, I HAVE NOE BEEN INFORMED THAT YET AGAIN ,SCHERRIE PAYNE IS TO BE LEFT OUT FROM THE TITLE, ON SOME OF HER BEST SUPREME MATERIAL, AND THAT A CERTAIN MEMBER OF THE SUPREMES IS UNHAPPY, WITH THE RECOGITION OF A SUPREME LADY WHO HAS BEEN OVER LOOKED FOR FAR TO LONG, I REALISE WITHOUT MARY THE SUPREME WOULD HAVE PROBABLY SPLIT UP YEARS BEFORE THE 1977 FAREWELL, BUT SURELY, SHE MUST REALISE THAT WITHOUT SCHERRIE THE LAST 2 LINEUPS, WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY DIFFERENT, I FIND THIS REALLY PETTY, AS MARY CHANGED THE TITLE OF THE 1974 GTS HITS SET FROM THE SUPREMES GT HITS ,TO, MARY WILSON AND THE SUPREMES GT HITS, SO COME ON MARY, BE FAIR, WE ALL LOVE AND RESPECT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE FOR THE SUPREMES OVER THE YEARS, BUT SURELY, A LITTLE SUPREME LVE TOWARDS YOUR FELLOW SUPREME LADIES AT THIS TIME WOULD NOT BE TO MUCH TO ASK, AS THE TRACK FROM THE 1975 LP THE SUPREMES GOES , “HE BELONGS THERE” AND IN MY VIEW, SCHERRIE PAYNE BELONGS IN THE TITLE OF THE NEW CD SET , I KNOW THE LADY PERSONALLY VERY WELL, AND IF THE SITUTION WAS REVERSED, THIS CARING LOVELY LADY WOULD SUPORT HER FELLOW SUPREME,

  21. While I disagree with many, may things Bucky said, especially the Charlie’s Angels reference.

    As a Charlie’s Angels fan, I would kill to see a movie with Kate Jackson, Shelley Hack and Tanya Roberts!

    That would be a killer line-up. And other Charlie’s Angels fans would agree.

    He was wrong about Charlie’s Angels – and wrong about Return to Love!

    HA!

  22. THERE WERE 9 SUPREMES ACTUALLY:
    FLORENCE BALLARD
    MARY WILSON
    DIANA ROSS
    BARBARA MARTIN
    CINDY BIRDSONG
    JEAN TERRELL
    LYNDA LAURENCE
    SCHERRIE PAYNE
    SUSAYE GREENE!

    WHY DO PEOPLE IGNORE BARBARA MARTIN, SHE IS AN ORIGINAL SUPREME BUT ALWAYS GET IGNORED, IT IS NOT FAIR GUYS!

  23. In the USA, every single released here had Scherrie (the final lead singer) singing Lead! He’s My Man was a shared lead with Mary.

    Mary even mentioned in her misguided tomes that she took many LP cuts that she knew were intended for Scherrie. LP cuts maybe – but not singles released!

    There is a good reason for that too!

  24. I got an email from Andy Skrow when I inquired about the title and he told me how it was going to be titled, and I saw Scherrie on the Motown Cruise to the Bahamas in January and when I asked her about the project, she said she didn’t think it was going to be called the Scherrie Payne Years, further she and Mary don’t talk much anymore.

  25. Andy who worked on the project said the Title was going to be “The Supremes The Final Sessions” that was as of the end of January. The project is finished by the way, so I am waiting to get it, and yes I think it should be given a Scherrie Payne billing since she had the big disco hits. He said it should be out before the summer, scherrie says by late March or
    April.

  26. I know how you guy feel, Scherrie was a talented and great singer, but since she was hired by Mary that may have put a different spin on things, I believe Jean was salaried by Motown, and had real big hits so that title was surely set in stone, I can’t remember but someone said Mary was not happy about that title either, but it came out with Jean rightfully getting her top billing as the lady who kept the Supremes up there with whatever hits they had large or small as she once said
    in Mary’s book “I’m the lead singer, and whatever hts we have large or small” etc, etc, etc. I am happy Jean just got her settlement from Motown I just read.

  27. I’m surprised the article left out mention of The Supremes’ first single outing with Terrell, after Diana left: 1970’s Up The Ladder To The Roof (February). It was basically the group’s follow-up to their above-mentioned Diana swan-song hit “Someday” released in October ’69, and made it to Billboard Pop Chart No. 10. I mention it because it’s actually my favorite-ever Supremes record, and I think one of their most underappreciated and -played hits that should be aired more often on the radio. A beautiful single that catches your ear and is great to listen to — especially the much better-sounding (to me) mono single version, compared with the tamer stereo version on the new group’s first 1970 Lp.

  28. Steve Weaver Says:

    The Supremes were never all about Ms. Wilson (as the deluded woman would like the public to think nowadays) it was the group, the songs and the lead singers. Scherrie did a fantastic job taking over from Ross/Terrell and she’s truly a beautiful lady in every aspect of the word. She deserves recognition, because it’s her lead vocal on 80% of the tracks, possibly more. Hipo should start listening to their customers – especially the ones who know the real group history. Andy refers to Ms. Wilson as ‘My best friend’ – he needs to get out more I think!

  29. I was very impressed with the packaging of the Jean Terrell Years. Hipo did an outstanding job on this, everyone thought so. And, it must have sold well – or there would be no follow up.

    Harry, if you are listening – make the next set a companion set to the first one – and do it right! Make it the same kind of packaging and call it Let Yourself Go – the Scherrie Payne Years!

    We aren’t asking anyone favors here, or for any special treatment. It’s just what this set should be called. Mary shouldn’t have any input on what the set should be called because of the way things are today. It was a different time then – and then it was Scherrie who was the lead!

    Mary is the one who tries to change history by separating the group and calling the group the 70’s Supremes. I’ve seen Scherrie’s Motown contract, it does not say 70’s Supremes – it’s says Supremes. Susaye has stated this as well, “I didn’t join the 70’s Supremes. I joined – the Supremes.”

    And then there’s Mary on Soul Train – we’ve all seen it – saying please accept us as The Supremes as that’s who we are! Scherrie is standing right next to her.

    Now all of a sudden it was two separate groups. It wasn’t then – it only is now because of convenience.

    There were three lead singers in this group – Diana, Jean & Scherrie.

    This really shouldn’t be an issue – it should be called –
    The Scherrie Payne years!

  30. Scherrie Payne was the Supremes’ final lead singer and deserves the credit! I agree that the title of the album should be “The Scherrie Payne Years!” Scherrie’s lead vocals on “Let My Heart Do The Walking,” “You’re My Driving Wheel” “Let Yourself go” and more brought the Supremes into a new and exciting era! Scherie’s contribution to the group as the lead singer should not be overlooked. Do what’s right and give Ms Payne the name regognition she well earned!!!!!

  31. Well lets hope they can change it, for the sake of humanity, and for what the fans would like to see. Time will tell, but like I stated Andy said the package is already finished.

  32. Up the Ladder to the Roof turns 40 this month it zoomed on to the Charts at most of the trade magazines with Billboard
    heading the list, and it didn’t stop moving up till it reached
    #10, but what killed the song at #10 probably was the lack
    of promoting it even though it was selling out in the stores
    orders for the record probably were not being filled to push it
    further up the charts and Berry made it known that he was
    washing his hands of the group still it sold over 800,000 copies.

  33. Hey everybody. Let’s stop the bickering about the members of the group.
    My opnion is that yes Scherrie should be recognised for her contribution and so should Mary for keeping the group going and in the public eye(after all Berry wanted to remove Jean immediately and replace her with Syreeta W, when Mary said no he washed his hands of the group).

    Lets just eagerley await the release of the box set of the last three albums (still think that Mary’s solo album and the Partners sessions by Sherrie & Susaye should be included) and listen to the music made by the best girl group ever

  34. woofydude Says:

    Hearing the 70’s Supremes with Jean, Mary and Cindy, was like the fury was finally released, and all was right with the world.

    They had soul, and beautiful. complimentary voices.

    I am so glad I can enjoy their timeless harmony in so many vocals.

  35. Steve Weaver Says:

    Let’s put our top 5 70’s Supremes tracks down here and see which ones are most popular. For me, it has to be (lead singer on brackets):
    1. Stoned Love (Jean)
    2. Where Do I Go From Here (Scherrie)
    3. Up The Ladder To The Roof (Jean)
    4. Sweet Dream Machine (Scherrie)
    5. Beyond Myself (Jean)
    Do my favourites strike a similar chord with yours? Time will tell. Happy reminiscing folks…

  36. frances Says:

    1. Wait A Minute Before you Leave Me
    2. Up The Ladder To the Roof
    3. Floy Joy
    4. this is why I believe in You
    5. High Energy.

  37. Let’s not rewrite history. There were TWO -and ONLY TWO- designated leads of the Supremes: Diana Ross and Jean Terrell. After Jean left, the Supreme’s format completely changed and they became an ENSEMBLE act. There was NO ONE LEAD singer! Mary and Scherrie divided songs EXACTLY EVENLY and later so did Scherrie, Mary and Susaye. Please don’t take my word for this, just count up the songs on each lp. The same goes for their live shows. All evenly divided singing…and no appointed lead! Any new post-Terrell compilation should be correctly titled as “The Ensemble Years”

  38. Jo,

    Ever count up how many singles released while Scherrie was in the group have Mary singing lead? Count those!

    The only reason people identified more with Mary than Scherrie during that time is because she was the one person so identifiable with the group as she had been there so long.

    Their last LP was supposed to be called Scherrie, Mary & Susaye – from the beginning. But the old Mare through such a fit at Motown – they changed it just to shut her up.

  39. I love Mary Wilson deeply, having seen her so many times in concert. She truly deserves the respect and recognition as the original Supreme along with Diana and Flo. She fought a very brave fight against motown over the use of the name “Supremes”, royalties and indifference from a record company that was notorious for cheating it’s artists and confining them iron-clad contracts. Jean Terrel, Scherrie Payne are extremely talented singers as well. But, in my opinion, “The Former ladies of the Supremes” is a real joke. Only Payne and Lawrence were members of The Supremes, not Freddi Poole nor Joyce Vincent-Wilson. They dupe the public with their act, which simply is trying to be what the Supremes WERE. Wilson has had many solo material released, and in her concerts she puts on a complete show with Supreme hits and her solo material.

  40. Hi David-
    I hear you, but determining who the lead was based on who sang lead on a few isolated “single releases” is only a very rarified and peculiar way of looking at this topic. I think your approach attempts to “strrreeeeetch” points It seems that you have essentially created your own personalized definition of “lead” to be based only on the group’s relatively few single releases. The more accurate, fair, and traditional way to identify a lead is to view who sang on the entire BODY of material created by the group. Single releases are only a small fraction of material compared to the many lp cuts and live shows. Maybe we should the clarify the definition of a lead singer: A lead singer (as with Ross and Terrell) is an OFFICIALLY APPOINTED individual who sings lead on ALL lp cuts, singles, and live shows (with the exception of a rare and OCCASIONAL spotlighted lead by a backup singer, such as Mary). So, given that very fair and standard definition, there were only two leads of the Supremes: Ross and Terrell. Scherrie replaced Jean as a third member, but did not replace her as the “lead” of the group. Never happened. The Post-Terrell group has a new format! It divided lead chores EXACTLY EVENLY…again, please count the songs on the lps and listen to the live shows. It’s all right there and undisputable. It was a CONSCIOUS DECISION (see Mary’s book, it’s stated right there as well) to change the group format to an ENSEMBLE/shared leads style.
    PS: By the way, Mary and Scherrie shared leads EVENLY on their first single release “He’s My Man”

  41. MAL BOCOTT Says:

    I HAVE JUST READ THE THE COMMENT JO HAS MADE RE “THERE WERE ONLY TWO OFFICIAL LEAD VOCALISTS IN THE SUPREMES AND HAVE TO REPLY, WHEN JEAN TERRELL LEFT MARY WAS CONSIDERED TO TAKE LEAD BUT NEITHER MOTOWN OR MARY HERSELF FELT SHE COULD HANDLE THIS POSTION, AND THEY DECIDED TO LOOK FOR ANOTHER LEAD VOCALIST, THIS IS STATED IN MARYS OWN BIOGRAPHY, SUPREME FAITH, AS FOR THEM ALL SHARING LEADS, JO IS CORRECT IN THAT, BUT IT WAS BECAUSE OTHER GIRLGROUPS, WERE DOING IT, LABELLE THE POINTER SISTERS ,THE EMOTIONS, THE THREE DEGREES, TO NAME A FEW, MID WAY THROUGHT THE 70S, ONE LEAD VOCALIST HAD BECAME A BIT DATED,BUT JUST BECAUSE THIS FORMAT WAS POPULAR, THEY STILL HAD THERE MAIN LEAD SINGER, AND FROM WHEN JEAN LEFT SCHERRIE PAYNE TOOK UP THE POSTION WITH AN AMAZING VOICE AND STAGE PRESENCE, THE LAST 4 SINGLES WERE WITH SCHERRIE ON LEAD, APART FROM “HES MY MAN” WHICH MARY AND SCHERRIE SHARED.THERE HITS WITH SCHERRIE INCLUDED”WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE” IM GONNA LET MY HEART DO THE WALKING, “LET YOURSELF GO” AND “YOUR MY DRIVING WHEEL” SO HOW YOU CAN SAY SCHERRIE WAS JUST ANOTHER VOCALIST IS BEYOND ME,THE LAST LINE UP OF SCHERRIE PAYNE MARY WILSON AND SUSAYE GREENE WILL ALWAYS BE MY FAVOURITE, VOCALLY AND MUSICALLY, AMAZING HARMONYS AND GREAT SONGS, I LOVE THE IDEA OF MORE THAN ONE OF THE GROUP DOING LEAD, BUT THAT DOES NOT DIMINISH THE FACT THAT SCHERRIE PAYNE WAS THE LAST MAIN VOCALIST, AND WHEN SCHERRIE AND FORMER SUPREME LYNDA LAURENCE WENT OUT WITH DIANA ROSS IN 2000 RETURN TO LOVE TOUR, BOTH LYNDA AND SCHERRIE HAD A SOLO SPOT, MS ROSS SEEMS TO SEE AND REALISE WHAT JO DOESNT,THAT SCHERRIE PAYNE IS INDEED A LEAD VOCALIST, SO COME ON JO, DONT YOU TRY AND CHANGE HISTORY,AS I AM SURE THERE ARE MILLIONS OF FANS LIKE ME LOVE AND ADMIRE ALL 8 SUPREMES , BUT YOU CANT CHANGE THE FACTS, SCHERRIE PAYNE WAS THE LAST LEAD SINGER

  42. Hi Mal-
    I agree with you that Scherrie is a wonderful vocalist, but that is actually apart from the topic. I am just being very, very accurate in saying that there was simply no OFFICIALLY APPOINTED full time “LEAD” after Diana and Jean left the Supremes. It became an ENSEMBLE act, whether on lps, tv, or night clubs. The possible reasons which you note for this (that it was the style at the time, or that Mary could not carry the full lead alone) may be true, but the reasons behind the shared lead format are beside the point. Actually, I very much appreciate your honesty and maturity in agreeing with me that the leads were indeed all shared…it sounds like we are both on board together about that fact. Yet, although you admit to that fact, you don’t seem to acknowledge that this INHERENTLY and BY DEFINITION means that there was no ONE designated official lead. Perhaps you feel that Scherrie’s sound surpassed her two teammates and therefore you sort of instinctively view her as the “lead.” Perhaps it is more accurate to say that IN YOUR EYES Scherrie was the “main” vocalist due to her voice and singles, because putting it that way does not erroneously imply that she was OFFICIALLY
    “the lead.” However, let’s also remember that other fans might feel the same way about Mary or Susaye, and their opinions would be just as legitimate since all three ladies were EQUALLY FEATURED VOCALISTS in the group. Again, if we both AGREE that the leads were shared (which we do), then BY DEFINITION, this means there was NO ONE APPOINTED lead!
    As for personally selecting a “main” vocalist in the group, that is a different topic and becomes largely a matter of personal opinion! To each his own on that one!

  43. Steve Weaver Says:

    I contributed to this website due to my love and affection of The Supremes and until very recently, others have contributed likewise. What I DON’T like to see is someone who just wants to bitch about Scherrie & Lynda who, for the past 24 years have and still (in Diana’s words) authentically keeping the legacy alive.
    Mitch, from your comments I can tell you’ve never even seen their show, so how you can make such a ridiculous statement as “The Former ladies of the Supremes” is a real joke is, frankly pathetic. If any act can last as long as the FLOS – it’s because they are good at what they do and the public still want to see them.

    Go ‘bitch’ somewhere else – if anything is a ‘joke’ – it’s YOU.

  44. Steve, I believe you work in the music industry and I also believe that you know Lynda and Scherrie personally which most likely makes you biased. If one looks at the situation objectively, the whole “authentically keeping the legacy alive” is really a bunch of bunk. You know darn well that Diana Ross only spewed that crap to sell her RTL show. She could care less about this so-called legacy. Same for Jean and Susaye. You have to admit the FLOS are deceiving the public by performing under screens singing along with the originals. That’s why they can tour overseas, because THAT public isn’t the wiser. Not to discredit Lynda or Scherrie in any way, they are beautiful women with incredible talent. Why bring in a third singer at all? That’s what really makes it dubious and deceptive. Come on, it’s a tribute group for Christ sake!

    Let’s just celebrate the music of the Supremes in both the 60’s and 70’s and forget all this legacy business and who did or did not sing lead.

  45. Steve Weaver Says:

    Well, Bucky (or is it Mitch? – it’s hard to tell because your styles of writing are so similar…) The last sentence posted July 30, 2010 at 6:35 pm totally contradicts what ‘Mitch’ said and begs the question; Why bother coming on this site so spout unwanted/unnecessary venom in the first place?

  46. Hi Steve, I’m not Mitch. I’m Bucky and no, I didn’t come onto this site to spew venom, sling mud or pick fights. I really wanted to be objective about the history of the Supremes. The sad truth is that the value of the Supremes decreases with each new member and by the time the billing becomes “Former” or “of the Supremes” (and this includes Mary), the legacy is clearly over. “Authentically keeping the legacy alive” becomes “milking the legend for all its worth.” I personally do not like the FLOS. The individual members, yes. The grouping, no. Something about 60-something ladies (so far removed from the original tio) singing little girl songs with overworked arrangements on foreign TV shows doesn’t really fly. The songs have been put through the ringer and have been milked to death! Scherrie, Lynda, Freddie and Joyce are all very, very good entertainers and should really be solo acts. Better yet, come up with a new group altogether like TourDeForce. They are truly that gifted! They don’t need to hide behind the Supremes’ banner any longer. They need more individuality and that, in and of itself, will sell.

    That said (or written), this site is about the 70’s Supremes. They gave us great music and were simply sensational!

  47. I am inclined to agree with you Bucky, the Supremes legacy has been milked to death, to me the Supremes ended when Jean left, but the music was so good afterward that I will go has far to say the supremes continued its extension sort of until the last single “Let Yourself Go” ran dry with that great album Mary, Scherrie & Susaye. After that there was no use in milking the name any longer.

  48. By the time Scherrie joined the Supremes, the group was just about insignificant, for whatever reason. During the course of her tenure, yes, she was lead singer on the majority of the group’s material, and yes, on all of their singles (sharing lead vocals with Mary on “He’s My Man”). However, there were no top tens. There was no “Up The Ladder,” no “Nathan Jones.” Additionally, Mary & Susaye were also given leads. During Jean’s tenure, only one recording featured Mary taking the lead vocals (“I Keep It Hid,” from the Jimmy Webb produced album). Neither nor Cindy had lead vocals on any tracks, just an occasional line or ad lib.

    As far as Mary’s personal feelings about Scherrie in determining the title of this last set, she’s at least as entitled to make that call as Diana Ross was to omit her and Cindy from the RTL tour. Say what you will, she never had plans to tour with Mary. None of these women are angels. They all have a part in these conflicts – not just Diana and Mary.

    I’m just glad there’s any interest at all in releasing any Supremes material that doesn’t have Diana Ross on it, as hard as Motown/Berry Gordy have worked to diminish their footprint in music history to the sole benefit of Diana Ross.

  49. Scherrie and Lynda should be ashamed of their participation in the RTL tour.

  50. I think we should let the RTL Tour stay in its place, it made history, because Ross was bold enough to exclude Mary and Cindy and include two girls she never worked with, Mary had her say when she went on tv to tell her side of the injustice, which caught fire with the media. but honestly I think the tour should have been done inspite of the money if just for the fans to see diana, mary and cindy together again, I think flo would have liked that. The upper reaches of the pop charts applied to Jean, Mary & Cindy all of whom were not a part of the RTL Tour, Jean refused to sing behind Diana, and as a side note the last Supreme susaye who had her spot in the sun with the High Energy album #42 pop refused to audition for the tour. Lets just enjoy the legacy of the Supremes for what it was in its day magic.

  51. SuperSUPREMES Says:

    What a shame!!! The same type of back-biting, bitching, and narrow-minded tunnel vision which ross and gordy practiced that broke-up the greatest group ever. If you are a true Supremes fan you would be uniting to see to it that Their legacy was truly honored and They recieved the recognition They deserved. This is what Flo would have wanted in the end. The Supremes stood for a unity of 3 individual women who worked together to entertain us and give us something with which we could use to our advantage in dealing with life’s daily ups and downs. So unite! And stop acting like a self centered bunch of “ross’ and gordys'” who only cared about what she could get from him and vice-versa. That legacy was what broke-up The Supremes. ‘Listen’ to Their songs again, and practice what you ‘hear’.

  52. P.S. The top 5 Supremes’ songs are: There are 5 x 5 x 5, etc., etc. They did not record ANYTHING that WAS NOT SUPREME!!! The 60s’ or 70s’ Supremes, including Mary’s solo album and Scherrie’s/Susaye’s Partners. And Mary is still singing “a-la SUPRMES”!

  53. SuperSUPREMES Says:

    WhereDidourLoveGo?uhm?

  54. OK everybody…it’s March 2011 and still no 2nd 70’s Supremes box set! What the hell is going on?

  55. haven’t you heard, the Supremes Let Yourself Go 1974-77 final Sessions will be released on May 17, 2011, haieleiigh featuring
    Mary Wilson, Cindy Birdsong, Scherrie Payne and Susaye Green
    the cover will have an illustration not a photo of the group

  56. I wish them all the best of luck and hope the disc sells well.

  57. Just received the second volume, “Let Yourself Go”. Another fabulous set by Hip-O-Select. What a treat that fans are getting a deluxe package in an era when CD stores are closing. Absolutely love the packaging – gorgeous, particularly the photos and colours! The sound is crisp and clear. Lots of great disco tracks (I love Motown Disco). Scherrie’s voice is powerful, and the harmonies are tight.

    A lot of these songs are new to me since I never got a chance to hear them before. Fans will definitely be pleased with this set. Well worth the wait.

  58. I absolutely love the CD set “The Jean Terrell Years” ~and I just ordered the “Final Sessions” CD and wish them well with it!
    The “Jean Terrell Years” was correctly titled as Jean was, like Diana, the full lead. I am glad to see that this new CD is also correctly titled as “The Final Sessions”. The producers obviously recognized that after DIANA and JEAN, the group FORMAT COMPLETELY changed and they became an official ENSEMBLE ACT with NO ONE DESIGNATED LEAD. The leads were divided EXACTLY EVENLY on all three lps, all tv shows, and all live appearances. Mary, Scherrie, and Susaye were always featured EXACTLY EVENLY. (Mary even stresses this fact in her book and I am glad to see it honored in the CD set!). Good work, producers!!! Historical Accuracy is best!!!

  59. Samuel Augustus Jennings Says:

    Without Mary Wilson the Supremes would have fallen apart after Ross left. For example, look at individual stage presence in the “Supremes in Switzerland” concert (1976) where Mary takes charge and flows with grace and precision while Scherrie is stiff and Susaye makes scary faces and moves like she’s got a broom stuck up her butt. The Supremes were all about sight, sound and sexy movements but that energy has diminished with age. No matter how great Jean, Scherrie and the other Supremes might be only Ross and Wilson have carved out successful solo careers. How many other 67 year old singers from the 60’s heyday are still performing on the world’s stages?

  60. Samuel Augustus Jennings Says:

    P. S. I am thrilled that The Supremes 70’s albums were finally released in elaborately packaged dvd sets. I have waited for years and feared it would never happen. I didn’t know there were other fans who cared about the 70’s Supremes as I do. All the in-fighting and back-biting is truly exhilirating and energizing becaue it shows we all love The Supremes in all their reincarnations. I also appreciate that Supreme fans are so world-wide and diverse…gay, straight, black, white, cross-cultural, and all ages. Now that’s SUPREME!

  61. Samuel Augustus Jennings Says:

    Did Steve Weaver produce the FLO’s “Nathan Jones”? I keep playing it over and over again because their version easily surpasses the original. Soulful gospel voices cut loose and stay on top of this swinging production whereas the original is a bit stiff with The Supremes drowning in the mix.

  62. Did someone say Diana was “brave” to create the “Return to Love” tour? If so, only in a very limited sense. In Diana’s “Return to love Tour” she actually played it quite safe. Putting Lynda and Scherrie in as the “Supremes” avoided having to complete with the popularity of Mary and Cindy and the magnificent voice of Jean Terrell. Diana has never made much connection with Jean, since Jean was her immediate replacement, as as such the two were constantly compared, -and almost always in Jean’s favor. So Diana has always had a “thing” about Jean – avoid the competition. Scherrie and Linda can sing, -but neither were full time leads. Also, both have stong but very common sounding voices, like a thousand other singers. They simply do not bring the vocal uniqueness that would give Diana any real competition, which Jean would have.

  63. Samuel Augustus Jennings Says:

    Scherrie Payne is one of the best singers ever. Her voice is truly Supreme.

  64. Scherrie has a good strong voice, like dozens -even hundreds- of other strong belters. But plain and simple: it’s not a UNIQUE voice. That’s it. Period. After Jean left, the Supremes sounded like any other typical group. Diana and Jean embodied the UNIQUE SUPREMES sound. Gorfy saw to that. He had nothing to do with finding Scherrie. This is no reflection on Scherrie’s ability. Its just a fact.

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