The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success, and Betrayal

The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success, and Betrayal

3.3 10
by Mark Ribowsky
     
 

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The Supremes is a sprawling tale of unforgettable music, cutthroat ambition, and heartbreaking betrayal. Mark Ribowsky explodes Dreamgirl fantasies by taking the reader behind the closed doors of Motown to witness the rise of group leader Diana Ross, the creation of timeless classics like “Where Did Our Love Go?,” and the dramatic power

Overview

The Supremes is a sprawling tale of unforgettable music, cutthroat ambition, and heartbreaking betrayal. Mark Ribowsky explodes Dreamgirl fantasies by taking the reader behind the closed doors of Motown to witness the rise of group leader Diana Ross, the creation of timeless classics like “Where Did Our Love Go?,” and the dramatic power struggles within Detroit’s fabled music factory. Drawing on firsthand, intimate recollections from knowledgeable sources such as the Temptations’s Otis Williams and other Motown contemporaries—many never before interviewed—The Supremes is “a comprehensive look at the tumultuous relationships within the Supremes as well as among others at the Motown label” (Library Journal).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Biographer of Phil Spector (He's a Rebel), among others, Ribowsky takes a dishy, insider look at Berry Gordy's making of the Supremes, with some nasty swipes at Diana Ross while elevating Flo Ballard as the trio's martyr. In his detailed look at how Berry engineered his Motown empire, thanks to his smart sisters and a lot of luck and fortuitous pairing of talent, Ribowsky nicely intersperses some hindsight reflections by the main players, such as the brothers Brian and Eddie Holland of the legendary songwriting team with Lamont Dozier, with comparative accounts by Mary Wilson, Ross and others in order to sift the truth from the legend. While the author constantly snipes at Ross for her "popping eyes" and naked ambition, it was largely her single-minded drive that garnered attention to the trio's early incarnation as the Primettes, and her high girl-woman singing voice that established the Supremes' distinctive sound. Moreover, Ross's influence on Gordy (and his faith in her future solo stardom) motivated him to keep pushing the group into the limelight, in spite of other girl groups that had a bigger top hit following, such as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. In this engaging, vivacious account, Ribowsky energetically and thoroughly underscores the Supremes' significance as one of the first crossover successes. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Reviews
Acrid biography of the biggest female vocal group of all time. Ribowsky (Josh Gibson: The Power and the Darkness, 2004, etc.) dredges up all the muck he can find on Motown Records' hit-making trio, who tallied a dozen No. 1 pop-soul singles from 1964 through Diana Ross' departure for a solo career in 1969. The outline will be familiar to readers of past memoirs by Ross, member Mary Wilson and Motown founder Berry Gordy, which the writer pillages extensively while castigating their lack of candor. Founded in Detroit's Brewster-Douglass projects by teenager Florence Ballard as a quartet originally known as the Primettes, the group was nurtured to international stardom, after several flop singles, by self-made music mogul Gordy. The label chief was severely smitten with the skinny, purring Ross, a turbine of selfish ambition who enjoyed short-lived affairs with Gordy's adjutant Smokey Robinson and songwriter Brian Holland before taking up with her long-lusting boss after she hit pay dirt. Readers looking for another Dreamgirls should look elsewhere-no one escapes unscathed in this scabrous tome. Ross predictably emerges as an imperious, spotlight-hogging diva; Wilson is depicted as man-hungry, disloyal and timorous; the tragic Ballard, who died at 32 in 1976 after her brutal expulsion from the act she formed, is portrayed as a self-destructive, alcoholic loose cannon. Gordy hovers above the action as a deceitful, iron-fisted coveter of white-bread mainstream success who coldly robbed even his top act. Ribowsky, who relies heavily on secondary sources and testimony from disaffected members of the Motown "family," excessively magnifies and explicates each torturous incident in the Supremes'story. The author is also prone to five-dollar verbiage, frequently obvious flights of dim analysis and thudding attempts at cleverness. Overwritten and overtly sensational. Agent: Michael Dorr/LitPub Ink
From the Publisher
Music Media Monthly, 5/10/10
“If you cherish the memory of songs like ‘Stop! In the Name of Love,’ ‘Baby Love’ and ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On,’ you’ll want to read all about the back story and intrigues that made The Supremes the best of Motown’s R&B and Soul groups of its day…A great read.”

Barnstable Patriot, 6/4/10
“[A] saga of supremely talented, yet sordid, lives. This is a dishy, dirty look at Berry Gordy and the trio of ghetto girls who he made stars…A tale as harrowing as it is nasty, this roller-coaster ride will finally tell you exactly where the love went.”

The TMR Zoo, 6/15/10

“A much needed 440 page book on one of the greatest ‘girl groups’ of all time…Ribowsky—very wisely—keeps the history front and center…What the author has done here is no small achievement. He’s managed to put a solid document together of this incredible hit machine, and bring the humanity of each individual involved to center stage…Ribowsky handles all of the bad and the good with objectivity and diplomacy…Highly recommended.”
 

Neworld Review, August 2010
“This book outlines in detail why the Detroit legend was so important to the history of American music and why it can never be duplicated.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786726912
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
10/23/2008
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
408
Sales rank:
630,133
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Mark Ribowsky is the author of He’s a Rebel: Phil Spector, Rock&Roll’s Legendary Producer; Don’t Look Back; and other books on music, sports, and popular culture. He lives in New York.

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Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success, and Betrayal 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
JimmyD1967 More than 1 year ago
I have read this book i am also a Supremes fan i know all their is to know about The Supremes i have all their recordings i find this book to be disstasteful and sladerous i am friends with Florence's sister and i do not feel it is right for someone to make up things just for the sake of making a fast buck this man does not have all his facts straight and anyone who was connected to motown and the people involved with this book knows what the truth is. Please read the following books Dreamgirl My Life As A Supreme and Supreme Faith both by Mary Wilson an original member of The Supremes and The True Story Of Florence Ballard by Maxine Precious Ballard Jenkins
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have never read anything about Motown and/or The Supremes...this book will fascinate you.If you have read anything about Motown and/or The Supremes...this book will not surprise you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does anyone know ifthis book is non fiction ?
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DC_Trainer More than 1 year ago
I have read many books on Motown, and have found this book to be most honest and believable. It credits Diana Ross for not only the success of the Supremes, but the success of Motown. Well done...
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