Monday, 24 March 2014

Happy Birthday to Diana Ross -March 26th

Diana was born and raised in Detroit. She rose to fame as a founding member and lead singer of the vocal group The Supremes, originally called The Primettes. At the early age of just 15, Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown (Barbara Martin replaced her in 1961), won a singing contest in Windsor, Ontario, Canada in 1960, which featured Ross singing lead on their version of The Drifters' hit song, "There Goes My Baby". Berry Gordy signed the young act under the condition they change their name. Each member picked out various names from friends. Eventually they settled on The Supremes. Following Martin's exit in 1962, the group became & remained a trio. Their first hit single, "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes", was an American top 30 success, followed by "Where Did Our Love Go" which was a worldwide success. Between August 1964 and May 1967, Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard sang on ten US number-one hit singles, all of which also made the UK top 40. The success was at the time, bigger than The Beatles. "Baby Love" made it to #1 not only in America, but also in the UK & other parts of the world. "Come See About Me", "Stop! In the Name of Love", "Back in My Arms Again", were written by the team of, Holland–Dozier–Holland & produced by Brian Holland & Lamont Dozier. With the Sound of Motown exploding all over the world, they were now also achieving hit selling albums. In April 1967, Gordy then contacted Cindy Birdsong, a member of Patti LaBelle & the Blue Belles who superficially resembled Ballard, with plans to bring her to replace Ballard, Birdsong was brought in to begin rehearsals. In 1967 the group played the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. What made this appearance significant was the fact that they were being billed as "The Supremes with Diana Ross", the first time in which Ross was billed separately from the group. Soon afterwards, Gordy renamed the group "Diana Ross & the Supremes," putting Ross's name ahead of the group. Gordy initially thought of Ross leaving the Supremes for a solo career as early as in 1966, but changing his mind when he figured the group's success was still too massive. Diana Ross would remain with the group until early 1970. Between their early 1968 single,"Reflections", "Forever Came Today","Love Child", and their final single, "Someday We'll Be Together", which was written by Johnny Bristol & in fact you can hear him singing on the track. It was in fact, Diana Ross's first solo hit, but credited to, Diana Ross & The Supremes Diana Ross & the Supremes gave their final performance on January 14, 1970 at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, Jean Terrell was announced at the concert to be Diana Ross's replacement. In March 1970 new contracts were signed & the solo career, was ready to start... eight weeks later.

Motown released her eponymous solo debut, which included the hits, "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," which Diana had recorded already twice before (one with The Supremes & also with The Supremes with The Temptations). "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" in 1970, shot to the top of the American charts & also to the top 10 in the UK. The Ashford & Simpson, writing & production was a big success for her debut solo album. "Everything Is Everything" was the second album by Diana Ross, released in 1970. It included the UK, #1 song, "I'm Still Waiting", which for some reason, did not achieve the same success in America. "Everything is Everything" failed to become a success in America, so the same year, they rushed out, "Surrender" ("I'm Still Waiting" in the UK). "Remember Me" was a hit single in both America & the UK, with the title track becoming only a minor hit in the US. Because of the outstanding success in the UK, "I'm Still Waiting", was added & was renamed the title of Diana's third album. Diana Ross began working on her first film, "Lady Sings the Blues", which was a loosely based biography on music legend Billie Holiday in 1971. She talked with doctors at drug clinics for research of the film, as Billie Holiday had been a known drug addict. Diana Ross, focused on Holiday's vocal phrasing in the songs. "Lady Sings the Blues" opened in cinemas in October 1972, becoming a major success in Ross's career. Ross's role in the film won her Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. In 1973 the, '' Touch Me in the Morning'' album was released, the title track was a US #1 & also a top 10 single in the UK. Later that year, the Diana & Marvin album, her duet album with Gaye, was released, giving the duetting couple, hits both in the UK & America, as Motown records decided that the released single would differ, "You're a Special Part of Me" & "My Mistake (Was to Love You)" , would both be US Hits, but in the UK, "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)" & "You Are Everything" would both be the hit single, the album reached the top 10 in the UK & top 30 in America. In 1975, ''Mahogany'' was her second film, in which she starred alongside Billy Dee Williams. The film was a box office success, plus she scored a US #1 & top 5 single with the theme song to the film, "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)". Ross returned on the charts in 1976 with another eponymous album, which saw her gaining her a Disco/Dance audience after the release , "Love Hangover," which also returned her to number-one in the US plus a UK tour saw the song reaching the top 10. In 1977, she toured with, The Jones Girls as backing singers & released her second live album, "An Evening with Diana Ross", which was a double vinyl release. The film adaptation of The Wiz had been a $24 million production, but upon its October 1978 release, it earned only $21,049,053 at the box office, for Diana Ross & her co stars (Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, Richard Prior were amongst the cast". "Ease on Down the Road" was released as a, Jackson / Ross duet single. In 1979, Diana achieved her first gold-selling album in three years with "The Boss" which was written & produced by Ashford & Simpson. "The Boss" gave Ross her first US Top 20 hit in three years; since 1976's "Love Hangover". For her next album, after attending a Chic concert, Diana Ross requested to work with, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. Motown agreed & the deal was struck...

1980 was a good year for Diana, she had one of Motown's biggest ever selling singles with Lionel Richie , who wrote their hit single for the soundtrack to the film, "Endless Love- Billboard magazine named it the greatest song duet of all time. Diana's last Motown offering, was written & produced by Chic members Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. The Chic offering spawned hit after hit, "I'm Coming Out" which Diana thought was a song about her leaving Motown, Nile Rodgers says he had to lie to the singer. Rodgers got the idea for "I'm Coming Out" after noticing three different drag queens dressed as Diana Ross at a New York club called the GG Barnum Room. ''Upside Down'' reached #2 in the UK, but in America it zoomed to #1 in all three charts, Pop, Soul / R&B & Disco/Dance. In 1981, Ross released her first RCA album, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love". The album sold over a million copies and featured hit singles such as her remake of the classic hit of the same name and "Mirror Mirror." The "Silk Electric" album followed in 1992, that included the Michael Jackson penned song,'' Muscles'', as well as the original version of the song, "In Your Arms", which was written by Linda Creed & Michael Masser, which was covered by Teddy Pendergrass and Whitney Houston as "Hold Me". 
"Missing You", the Lionel Richie written ballad was her US hit tribute to Marvin Gaye in 1984. In 1985 she teamed up with, The Bee Gees who graced Diana with the UK #1 single "Chain Reaction".
She appeared as part of the supergroup USA for Africa on the '"We Are the World"' charity single, which sold over 20 million copies worldwide. In 1988, Ross chose to not renew her RCA contract. Around this same time, Ross had been in talks with her former mentor Berry Gordy to return to Motown. When she learned of Gordy's plans to sell Motown, Ross tried advising him against the decision though he sold it to MCA Records that same year. Following this decision, Gordy offered Ross a new contract to return to Motown with the condition that she have shares in the company as a part-owner. Ross accepted the offer. "Workin' Overtime 1989" saw her returning with Nile Rodgers, trying to add new sounds with an attempt to get her to appeal to a younger audience, but did not work. "The Force Behind the Power" (1991) gave her an international comeback, when the album went double platinum in the U.K & led by the # 2 U.K. hit single, "When You Tell Me That You Love Me". "Take Me Higher" (1995), included her minor hit cover of ''I Will Survive'', meanwhile "Every Day Is a New Day" (1999), would be the last Motown studio album until the label released the shelved jazz standards album, "Blue", in 2006 and would also be Ross' last studio album of new material for another seven years. In 2006 she released her last studio album to date called, ''I Love You '' featuring "I Want You" which was written by her late brother, Arthur "T-Boy" Ross & a hit recording by Marvin Gaye. Diana Ross continues her legendary reputation by touring, giving us wonderful live moments and great memories. She remains a larger than life superstar and one of the most important singers of her generation. Happy 70th Birthday, Diana!

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