The Supremes were an American female singing group and the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s. Originally founded as the Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959, the Supremes were the most commercially successful of Motown’s acts and are, to date, America’s most successful vocal group with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100.
Most of these 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.
- Founding members Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross, and Betty McGlown, all from the Brewster-Douglass public housing project in Detroit, 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 McGlown in 1960, and the group signed with Motown the following year as the Supremes. Martin left the act in early 1962, and Ross, Ballard, and Wilson carried on as a trio.