Musician Biographies » The Supremes » Troubled Times - More Changes, Busy Life, More Tension, A Supreme Replacement, Moving Forward, Tragedy

Troubled Times - Moving Forward

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The group continued its demanding schedule. In September, Diana Ross and the Supremes made their first television appearance with Cindy in the group. In October, their greatest hits album went straight to number one. Before Thanksgiving, they completed more recordings, guest spots on The Ed Sullivan Show, and live appearances in Oregon, Washington, California, and Canada.

Tragedy

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The news was devastating for the Supremes. They canceled their scheduled engagements at the Copa in New York and flew to Atlanta for the funeral. King's widow asked the Supremes to perform at a rally in the days that followed King's burial. Along with several other Motown artists, the Supremes performed at the Atlanta Civic Center as part of the Poor People's March from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.

Dr. King's death was a turning point in race relations in the United States. The nation had watched as King and his followers staged a series of nonviolent protests to oppose racial segregation in the United States. After his assassination, many people no longer felt they could simply watch from the sidelines. While protesting King's death in grief and despair, many people rioted in major cities, including Detroit.

The Supremes began feeling some pressure to voice political opinions in interviews. Times had changed and many in the black community felt it was not enough for the group to be positive role models for young black women. The sophisticated image the Supremes had worked so hard to maintain was sometimes ridiculed by people who suggested the group wasn't “black enough.” Though the Supremes never publicly stated political opinions, they did show their support for civil rights causes again and again. Indeed, since their earliest days in the Motortown Revue, the Supremes had worked hard to level the playing field for black performers.

In January 1968, after working right through Christmas and New Year's, Diana Ross and the Supremes began another European tour. Again they dined with dukes and duchesses, in between recording television specials in Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris, London, and Munich!

Even with Cindy in place, things were still difficult for the group. In February 1968, the song “Forever Came Today” was released. Strangely, none of the Supremes sang the song except Diana Ross. The studio had kept the recording date but did not book Mary or Cindy for the backing vocal tracks.

The release of “Forever Came Today” was the first time this happened, but it wasn't the last. As the group's schedule got more complicated, future recordings focused more on Diana's vocals than on using the group as a whole. If Mary and Cindy were not available to record, other singers recorded in their place. All the songs were released under the name “Diana Ross and the Supremes,” and Mary and Cindy still had to learn the songs in order to perform them live.

Troubled Times - Tragedy [next] [back] Troubled Times - A Supreme Replacement

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