Founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1959, The Supremes began as a
quartet called The Primettes. Founding members Florence Ballard, Mary
Wilson, Diana Ross and Betty McGlown, all from the Brewster-Douglass
public housing project in Detroit, were the sister act to The Primes
(later known as The Temptations). In 1960, Barbara Martin replaced
McGlown, and the group signed with Motown in 1961 as The Supremes.
Martin left in early 1962, and Ross, Ballard and Wilson carried on as a
trio. Achieving success in the mid-1960s with Ross as lead singer,
Motown president Berry Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross & the
Supremes in 1967 and replaced Ballard with Cindy Birdsong. Ross left the
group for a successful solo career in 1970 and was replaced by Jean
Terrell. After 1972, the lineup of the Supremes changed frequently, with
Lynda Laurence, Scherrie Payne and Susaye Greene all becoming members
before the group ended its eighteen-year existence in 1977.
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