The Supremes and the Temptations Celebrate 50th Anniversaries
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Two of the most popular and socially significant singing groups in music history celebrate their 50th anniversaries in 2011. Both the Supremes and the Temptations signed their recording contracts with Motown in 1961, launching careers that changed not only the sound and style of pop but smashed racial and cultural barriers in America and around the world.
Their songs defined a generation: the Supremes with “Baby Love,” “Stop! In The Name Of Love” and “Love Child,” and the Temptations with “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” “Ball Of Confusion” and “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone.” They even recorded together, hitting with “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” and starred together in two groundbreaking TV specials. During the tumultuous sixties and early seventies, the Temptations injected relevance otherwise missing from pop singing groups. At the same time, the Supremes notched breakthroughs for African-Americans and for African-American women on stage and on television. Both groups brought people together, no matter their race. As a result, they became more than merely the most successful vocal groups of their time but also cultural icons. Both are inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and unanimously hailed among the greatest artists of the rock era.
Their histories are inextricably intertwined. The Supremes originally took shape as The Primettes, when the Primes, which included future Tempts Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, wanted a sister group to perform as a package. In January 1961, Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard and Barbara Martin changed their group name and signed with Motown. Actually their mothers signed, since the girls were too young: Diana and Mary were 16, Barbara (who exited the following year) and Florence were 17. Four months later, Motown also inked the Temptations.
Though their first singles were not hits, eventually the two groups would reach the top of the charts. The Supremes earned their first No. 1 in 1964 with “Where Did Our Love Go” and would log 12 Pop No. 1 hits. The Tempts reached No. 1 Pop the following year with “My Girl,” also No. 1 R&B, where the group had 14 such chart-toppers. Yet there was so much more to both ensembles. Motown founder Berry Gordy championed each one and insisted they appeal to integrated audiences.
The Supremes’ performances on national television, particularly The Ed Sullivan Show, were landmarks. Notably, they were also part of rock ‘n’ roll shows on stage and television. The Supremes were the first black female pop act to be tapped for TV commercials for major products, such as Coca-Cola. They were on the cover of Ebony magazine–and also Time. They stirred controversy when during one mid-sixties television appearance an interracial audience was seen dancing together; and when, on The Ed Sullivan Show, they sang “Love Child”–a No. 1 song about an unwed mother.
The Temptations set the standard for male singing groups, a standard that every group thereafter–from the Jackson 5 to Boyz II Men, from the Backstreet Boys to a White House tribute featuring Jamie Foxx, John Legend and Seal–hoped to match. The classic Tempts lineup, with Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and David Ruffin, was smooth and cool, epitomized by the “Temptations Walk” dance steps. But during the height of the Vietnam War, with new lead singer Dennis Edwards, the group made a startling transformation, adding an edge to the songs they sang and developing psychedelic soul. For soldiers overseas and Americans at home, black and white, the Temptations provided the soundtrack to their lives.
The crossover success of the Supremes and the Temptations helped change America. The 50th anniversary year of their Motown debuts, America celebrates their music and their impact on our lives today.
Today, the Temptations and the Supremes continue to be an essential component of the Motown legacy. The Temptations recent DVD release, Get Ready: Definitive Performances 1965-1972, is currently double platinum, and their recent ICON CD has already sold more than 100,000 copies. The Diana Ross & The Supremes DVD release, Reflections – Definitive Performances 1964-1969 is now platinum. Fifty years later, original fans as well as new fans confirm with steady sales that the true artistry and talent of The Temptations and The Supremes is ageless and timeless.
Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), which manages the classic recorded catalog of Motown, will mark the historic Detroit label’s musical achievements with key music releases in both physical and digital formats, with bonus tracks and materials enhancing these packages. Details will be announced as each new package approaches. UMe will also collaborate on other projects, ranging from tributes and television appearances to merchandise and brand partnerships, to mark this extraordinary double anniversary.
Mary Wilson, The Supremes and Otis Williams, The Temptations are available for interviews.
SOURCE Universal Music Enterprises