Episode one hundred and sixteen of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at "Where Did Our Love Go?" by the Supremes, and how the "no-hit Supremes" became the biggest girl group in history. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.
Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on "She's Not There" by the Zombies.
Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-c....akes-for-proust and
As usual, I've created a Mixcloud streaming playlist with full versions of all the songs in the episode.
For Motown-related information in this and other Motown episodes, I've used the following resources:
Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound by Nelson George is an excellent popular history of the various companies that became Motown.
To Be Loved by Berry Gordy is Gordy's own, understandably one-sided, but relatively well-written, autobiography.
Women of Motown: An Oral History by Susan Whitall is a collection of interviews with women involved in Motown.
I Hear a Symphony: Motown and Crossover R&B by J. Andrew Flory is an academic look at Motown.
The Motown Encyclopaedia by Graham Betts is an exhaustive look at the people and records involved in Motown's thirty-year history.
How Sweet It Is by Lamont Dozier and Scott B. Bomar is Dozier's autobiography, while Come and Get These Memories by Brian and Eddie Holland and Dave Thompson is the Holland brothers'.
And Motown Junkies is an infrequently-updated blog looking at (so far) the first 694 tracks released on Motown singles.
Girl Groups by John Clemente contains potted biographies of many groups of the era.
The Supremes biography I mention in the podcast is The Supremes by Mark Ribowsky, which seems factually accurate but questionable in its judgments of people.
I also used this omnibus edition of Mary Wilson's two volumes of autobiography.
This box set contains everything you could want by the Supremes, but is extraordinarily expensive in physical form at the moment, though cheap as MP3s. This is a good budget substitute, though oddly doesn't contain "Stop in the Name of Love".
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Before I start, this episode contains a brief mention of rape, and the trauma of a victim, and a glancing mention of an eating disorder. The discussion is not particularly explicit, but if you think you might find it upsetting, you might be advised to check the transcript before listening, which as always can be found on the site website, or to skip this episode.
Today, we're going to look at the first big hit from the group who would become the most successful female vocal group of the sixties, the group who would become the most important act to come out of Motown, and who would be more successful in chart terms than anyone in the sixties except the Beatles and Elvis. We're going to look at the record that made Holland, Dozier, and Holland the most important team in Motown, and that made a group that had been regarded as a joke into superstars. We're going to look at "Where Did Our Love Go?" by the group that up until this record was known in Motown as "the no-hit Supremes":
[Excerpt: The Supremes, "Where Did Our Love Go?"]
The story of the Supremes starts, like almost every Motown act, in Detroit. Specifically, it starts with a group called the Primes, a trio who had grown up in Birmingham, Alabama, and then had moved to Cleveland, before moving in turn to Detroit. The Primes consisted of Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, and Kell Osborne, and were gaining popularity around the city.
But their act was lacking something, and their manager, Milton Jenkins, was inspired by Ray Charles' backing vocalists, the Raelettes. What if, he thought, his male vocal group had a group of female backing singers, the Primettes?
Stories vary about exactly how Jenkins pulled the group members together, including the idea that he literally stopped girls on the streets of the housing projects where the eventual members all lived. But what everyone seems to agree on is that Betty McGlown was dating Paul Williams, so she was an obvious choice. Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard knew each other and were good singers, especially Ballard, and they joined together, with Ballard becoming the new group's leader. And nobody seems to be clear who asked Diana Ross to join, but she was invited in. Ross says she was already singing with the other three around the neighbourhood. Wilson insisted that they didn't know her, and that she was brought in by Jenkins.
While Ballard and Wilson were friendly enough, and all of them were from the same small area and so knew