Web Page 2080
17th August 2014
Top Picture: Florence Ballard
Second Picture: Mary Wilson
Third Picture: Betty Travis (sorry I cannot find a better picture of her)
Forth Picture: Diana Ross
I must admit that when I hear the phrase Boy Bands or Girl Bands these days it does rather annoy me. To me a band, be it male or female, actually play instruments, but not todays band, it is just another phrase for singing groups.
Putting all that aside lets look at the girl groups of our youth.
A girl group is by definition an act featuring several young female singers who generally harmonise together. The Andrews Sisters were the most successful of the early girl groups but I suppose that The Supremes were the most successful of the wave of girl groups of the 1960s, holding 12 number-one singles.
The Chordettes, The Fontane Sisters, and The McGuire Sisters were popular from the dawn of the rock era, if not earlier, with all three acts topping the pop charts at the end of 1954 to the beginning of 1955. In early 1956 the Bonnie Sisters were a one-hit wonder with "Cry Baby", as were The Teen Queens with "Eddie My Love". The Bobbettes lasted for 5 1/2 months with "Mr. Lee" in 1957, and The Chantels were charting from 1957 to 1963 (including 1958's "Maybe" and 1961's "Look In My Eyes").
However, the group often considered to have started the girl group genre is The Shirelles, who first reached the Top 40 with "Tonight's the Night", and in 1961 became the first girl group to reach number one with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow. The Shirelles solidified their success with five more top 10 hits, most particularly 1962's number one hit "Soldier Boy", over the next two and a half years.
Songwriters and producers quickly recognized the potential of this new approach and recruited existing acts (or, in some cases, created new ones) to record their songs in a girl-group style. Phil Spector recruited The Crystals, The Blossoms, and The Ronettes, while Gerry Goffin and Carol King handled much of the output of The Cookies. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller would likewise foster The Exciters, The Dixie Cups, and The Shangri-Las. Motown labels also masterminded several major girl groups, beginning with The Marvelettes and later with Martha and the Vandellas, The Velvelettes, and The Supremes. The Gypsies, later renamed The Flirtations, sounded like The Supremes but were nowhere near as good. The Paris Sisters had success from 1961, especially with "I Love How You Love Me", to 1964. The Sensations and The Chiffons,were also prominent in the early 1960s. One-hit wonder The Jaynetts' "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" achieved a mysterious sound quite unlike that of any other girl group. In 1964 one-hit wonder The Murmaids took "Popsicles and Icicles" to the top 3 in January, The Carefrees' "We Love You Beatles" scraped the top 40 in April, and The Jewels' "Opportunity" was small in December. Except for a small number of the foregoing groups and possibly The Toys and the Sweet Inspirations, the only girl group with any significant chart presence from the beginning of the British Invasion through 1970 was The Supremes.
The Supremes were the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s. Founded as the Primettes in Detroit in 1959, the Supremes were the most commercially successful of Motown's acts and are, to date, America's most successful vocal group. Most of their hits were written and produced by Motown's main songwriting and production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland. At their peak in the mid-1960s, the Supremes rivaled the Beatles in worldwide popularity and their success made it possible for future African American R&B and soul musicians to find mainstream success.
The founding members were Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross, and Betty McGlown. They formed the Primettes as the sister act to the Primes (with Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, who went on to form the Temptations). Barbara Martin replaced Betty McGlown in 1960, and the group signed with Motown the following year as the Supremes. But Barbara Martin left the act in early 1962, and Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson carried on as a trio.
During the mid-1960s, the Supremes achieved mainstream success with Diana Ross as lead singer. In 1967, Motown president Berry Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross & the Supremes, and replaced Florence Ballard with Cindy Birdsong.
Diana Ross left to pursue a solo career in 1970 and was replaced by Jean Terrell, at which point the group's name reverted to the Supremes. After 1972, the line up changed more frequently; Lynda Laurence, Scherrie Payne, and Susaye Greene all became members of the group during the mid-1970s. The Supremes finally disbanded in 1977 after an 18-year run.
What happened to the original group members?
After being dropped Florence Ballard struggled with alcoholism, depression and poverty for a period of three years. She was making an attempt for a musical comeback when she died of cardiac arrest in February of 1976 at the age of 32
Today, Mary Wilson is increasingly noted for her critically acclaimed jazz and blues cabaret show and vocal appearances in The Lena Horne Story, an international touring work about the life of America's famed first African American musical movie star.
While all four members sang lead on stage, it is only the other three members who ever had leads on studio recordings. Betty McGlown eventually became Mrs. Betty Travis and left the Primettes in 1960 to concentrate on her new marriage. Betty McGlown-Travis died of diabetes in January, 2008 at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan at the age of 66.
Diana Ross was named the "Female Entertainer of the Century" by Billboard magazine. In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared her the most successful female music artist in history due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any female artist in the charts with a career total of 70 hit singles with her work with the Supremes and as a solo artist. She has sold more than 100 million records worldwide when her releases with the Supremes and as a solo artist are all tallied. In 1988 Diana Ross was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as member of the Supremes alongside Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson.
She is the recipient of the Kennedy Centre Honours in 2007 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
Stay in touch
News and Views:
On this Day 17th August 1960-1965
On 17/08/1760 the number one single was Please Don't Tease - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 17/08/1761 the number one single was You Don't Know - Helen Shapiro and the number one album was Black & White Minstrel Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Harpers West One (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 17/08/1762 the number one single was I Remember You - Frank Ifield and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 17/08/1763 the number one single was Sweets For My Sweet - Searchers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 17/08/1764 the number one single was Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Manfred Mann and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 17/08/1765 the number one single was Help - The Beatles and the number one album was Liverpool. The top rated TV show was 'Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £ 11.69 were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. Watts race riots in US and the big news story of the day was Riviera Police (AR)