Founding The Supremes member Mary Wilson said it took nearly five years for the legendary girl group to land a hit record. Though they formed in 1959 and eventually landed a deal on Detroit's Motown Records, they released more than a half a dozen singles before they scored a hit.
Feeling desperate, they asked Motown's in-house hit makers Holland-Dozier-Holland to write them something special.
Mary Wilson discusses "Where Did Our Love Go" at 14:15 mark:
"Eddie Holland, Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier said, 'We have a great song for you, and it was called 'Where Did Our Love Go,'" Wilson explained during an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Music. "So they played it for us and we said, 'We don't like that. Listen, we need to have a hit record, OK?' They said, 'No, trust us this is a hit record.'"
[Related: Mary Wilson remembers friend Donna Summer]
Despite their hesitation, The Supremes recorded "Where Did Our Love Go" and Motown released it. They were surprised by its reception. "We went on the Dick Clark show, and the record became a No. 1 hit while we were on Dick Clark's tour. It was a major tour — The Shirelles, The Drifters, Lou Christie, Gene Pitney … That's when we got our first hit record. But we did not like it, still."
Wilson said she never sang the song after The Supremes disbanded in 1977. "I just don't like the record," she said. "I think the reason why I didn't like 'Where Did Our Love Go' was that we really needed a hit record, and we had been singing since '59. So now it's '64. We were called 'The No Hit Supremes' at Motown. [But] that [song] made us stars. Ever since then I've never said, 'I don't like this or whatever.' I just kept my mouth closed. But of the 12 hit records there were many that I adored, but some just didn't matter as long as we were on the road."
In part one of a two-part exclusive interview with Wilson, she also discusses the group's early days as a quartet, initially being turned down by Motown, the time they knocked The Beatles out of the No. 1 position on the albums chart, and the makeup snafu that happened during their first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
Aside from their music, The Supremes are also known for their elegant style. They were always immaculately dressed and poised. Wilson credits Motown's former choreographer Charles Atkins and Charm School Director Maxine Powell for grooming the artists. "Mrs. Powell said, 'You girls and guys are diamonds in the rough and we're just here to polish you."
[Related: Top ten songs by The Supremes]
The Supremes are the spotlight group this month in Yahoo! Music's Best Soul Girl Groups Of All Time tribute for Black Music Month. A different act will be profiled everyday. The list includes African American women from a variety of genres — R&B, pop, gospel and rap — who were trailblazers and paved the way for those who followed.
(Come back to my blog on Tuesday for part-two. Wilson remembers the moment when the group was finally over, and describes why she identifies with Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland. Wilson also explains what she likes and dislikes about movies "Dreamgirls" and "Sparkle," which are loosely based on The Supremes. Plus, she sets the record straight on her feelings about former The Supremes lead singer Diana Ross.)