I’ve mentioned the Supremes’ incredible run of 5 straight #1 hits in 1964-65… this was the third in the series. They actually had two one-week runs at the top, bookending the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine”.
More than any other Motown group, the Supremes were designed to cross over between the traditionally-separate R&B and pop/rock worlds – Berry Gordy aimed their sound at the “white” audience, and had them play venues that were generally rock oriented (such as New York’s Copa). He saw the value of having the wider audience, and took the marketability of three young, attractive singers as his opportunity.
Of course, there was also the question of just how fond he was of Diana Ross. Gordy is the father of Ross’ oldest daughter, Rhonda Silberstein, who was given the name of the man Ross married about a month after becoming pregnant (Robert Silberstein). It’s believed that the marriage was, at first, a cover for the pregnancy as the reveal that Ross was having Gordy’s baby would have been… problematical for Motown. Silberstein and Ross did have two kids, so I guess they kind of got used to each other (before divorcing after 6 years of marriage).
That fondness was part of the reason the Supremes broke up – Flo Ballard thought that Gordy was always prepared to shove the Supremes aside in favor of a Ross solo career, and was eventually proven right – as well as a constant source of irritation for Motown’s other girl groups.
Tomorrow, one of the biggest folk/rock groups flies to #1…
No other songs reached #1 on December 19.