The Supremes were an all-female group of singers assembled in Detroit, MI during the 1960s. Before becoming The Supremes, they were known as the Primettes, formed in 1959. On January 15th, 1961 they were signed to Motown Records andbecame the most successful vocal group in America. The Supremes posted 12 #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. At the peak of their popularity in the 1960s, the Supremes rivaled one of the most prolific bands in history – The Beatles. In 1967 Berry Gordy, the president of Motown, renamed The Supremes as Diana Ross & the Supremes. Lead singer Diana Ross left the group in 1970 to pursue a solo career. The group’s name reverted to The Supremes and in 1977, the group dissolved after 18 years.
President of Motown, Berry Gordy, and Maxine Powell (Director of Artist Development) groomed the Supremes to present stunning image than black performers in years past. The group attracted audiences by embracing their femininity and appearing onstage in elaborate wigs, make-up, and high-fashion gowns. Motown wanted to do away with the public perception that black performers lacked class. The Supremes were internationally known by 1965. They embarked on world tours and began to record songs on movie soundtracks. The Supremes successfully tore down racial barriers by embracing rock and roll while still adhering to R&B stylings. As the group became more popular, they went on to become one of the first black artists to be featured on television. The Supremes made 17 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and their ability to attract all types of cultures set a precedent for other black musical groups such as the Jackson 5, the Temptations, and the Four Tops, who were all signed to Motown.
The Supremes were nominated for two Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Rhythm & Blues Recording and Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Group Performance. However, they never won an award during a competition. Three of their songs have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1988, Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson were all accepted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and in 1994 the received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1998, they were introduced into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and in 2004 they placed 97 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.