Among the cavalcade of stars who contributed to Motown’s dominant 1960s decade, The Supremes stood out as just that: supreme. The group from Detroit’s Brewster-Douglass housing projects, whose best-known lineup was trio Florence Ballard, Diana Ross and Mary Wilson, joined the budding hometown record label in 1961 but languished for years after a series of underperforming records earned them the in-house nickname of the “no-hit Supremes.”
That changed in the summer of 1964, with the arrival of their first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single, “Where Did Our Love Go.” For the next few years, nearly everything was a hit. They immediately followed with “Baby Love,” which made them the first Motown act with multiple No. 1s, and when “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Back in My Arms Again” continued the trend, The Supremes became the first artist to post five consecutive No. 1 hits.
By the decade’s end, the trio, whose lineup by then had replaced Ballard with Cindy Birdsong, claimed 12 Hot 100 No. 1s, still the highest count by any American group. Ross departed as lead singer in early 1970, but The Supremes carried on. With new leader Jean Terrell, the group claimed two more top 10s – “Up the Ladder to the Roof” and “Stoned Love” before it disbanded in 1977.