Mary Wilson's singing voice FORUM: Archive - Beginning Feb 03: Mary Wilson's singing voice
Top of pageBottom of page   By cleoharvey ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 04:54 pm:

After listening to the 70s Supremes Anthology it is evident that Motown could have groomed Mary Wilson and she would have had hits leading the Supremes in the Diana Ross and the Supremes days. Her sultry, soulful, distinctive voice is wonderful on such songs as Touch, I Keep It Hid, He's My Man, We Should Be Closer Together. Clearly, Diana had the most commercial voice in the group but Mary placed in a Gladys Knight like arrangement could have stretched the group's sound. Motown producers such as Frank Wilson, felt the same way but could never convince Motown. Any comments....

Top of pageBottom of page   By cleoharvey ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 05:06 pm:

I just thought of this. For example, think of Mary Wilson singing a song like My Baby Must Be A Magician by Smokey Robinson.

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 05:09 pm:

Check out the latest Diana Ross & the Supremems Anthology (released a few months ago) under the heading "Supreme Stylists" Motown included (among many non-Diana-led tunes) a track of Mary singing "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" from their appearance on ABC-TV's "Hollywood Palace." She definitely "coulda'been a contenda'."
Kevin "KevGo" Goins

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 05:10 pm:

I've wondered for years on this. I suppose Berry was so locked into Diana being the lead that nothing else was possible with him. It was successful but I think it would have been so cool to really develop the Supremes and Mary definitely had the voice and style to pull it off.

Top of pageBottom of page   By promises kept ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 05:28 pm:

Mary's "live" voice was top-notch, also. Check it out on "Live in Japan" with Jean and Lynda from 1973. Her solo spots on "Farewell-from Drury Lane 1977" show she was very capable of going on with a solo career. The recording studio can do "wonders", but her years with the Supremes certainly trained her well for the "live schtick!"

Top of pageBottom of page   By Vickie ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 05:28 pm:

Mary simply has a lot of class..
then and now...a great voice and talent.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Phillysoulman ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 06:50 pm:

At the live show which followed the showing of sitsom at the NYC premiere at the Apollo, Mary sounded and LOOKED marvelous. She is one classy lady and in my opinion, and some may disagree, is MUCH better looking than Diana, who is NOT at all that good looking with or without makeup!!
Mary has a NATURAL and earthy beauty that is superior to Diana's phoniness and pretentiousness.
Of course, this is only MY opinion, but I am certain that it is shared by many.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Kas ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 07:06 pm:

Phillysoulman, I couldn't resist jumping in here to give you some support. You definetly got that right!! LOL!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By thecount ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 07:17 pm:

From ROCK and ROLL confidential,

Top of pageBottom of page   By Nish ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 07:19 pm:

LOL! Ms. Wilson is beautiful and definitely very classy. Those were the two words that ran through my head when I saw her. Along with the question "HOW CAN I LOOK LIKE THAT WHEN I GROW UP!" :-)

As far as Mary's vocals, the performance that sticks out in my mind (and I wish I could have told her the other night) is her tender reading of "A Heart Like Mine," the Smokey composition from the "Floy Joy" album. That is just a tune meant for Mary Wilson. I really can't imagine anyone else singing it. And of course, there is The Sha-La Bandit and Touch. The woman can sing. Hearing her live only confirmed that. And she's sooooo stylish.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 07:33 pm:

Thanks Kas!!!!!
Diana Ross should be called "Diana-sor!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli no hair ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 08:14 pm:

Diana also needs to get a revamping of her style!! Big hair went out of fashion decades ago. It is kinda JURRASIC.

Nuff said... Aint no hair style big enough!!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Sue ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 08:20 pm:

Actually shhh! Don't tell Miss Ross, but big hair was so out of style it's back, as the current issue of Vogue displays ...

Mary is a dish, and very sweet. She made sure that Florence Ballard's daughters came along to the stamp ceremony at the RNR Hall of Fame honoring the Supremes and the other girl groups ...on the bus ride home we watched video of every single Supremes appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, courtesy of Flo's girls ...

Top of pageBottom of page   By thecount ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 08:30 pm:

With that hair doo,maybe they will give D.R. a chance to do a PEPSI commercial.
PEPSI broke MICKEAL JACKSONS contract,they caught him sucking on a "SQUIRT"

Top of pageBottom of page   By jonel54 ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 09:40 pm:

It's been over two years now....not sure when the Donny and Marie talk show went off...but I saw Mary sing "I Believe in You and Me" on that show....SHE WAS FABULOUS...Just wonderful. I think she was on just after the Diana tour fiasco, because I remember Donny and Marie interviewing her about it. I find myself sometimes listening hard to the background and it's easy to do on the early Supremes hits like "Where Did Our Love Go", "Come See About Me", "Baby Love" and "Stop! In the Name of Love". I've always heard Florence had the strongest voice of the three girls.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 09:59 pm:

Oh No!!! Pray tell, not the big hair epidemic once again!!! Just when I shaved off all of my curly lox..ahem ..thats locks.
Back in the 80's when I saw iss Ross (excuse me) at the Central Park concert in the rain, I secretly wished that the wind would come along and blow off her wig!!!
Once when I was at Power Station Studios in NYC, I came down to the lobby and Miss Ross (excuse me)
was sitting there waiting for Julio Eglasias(excuse him) andshe was applying her false eyelashes. Apparantly, while using the crazy glue stuff her eye got glued sut and she had to be taken to the hospital to have her eye open..poor dear!!!!!! I waited in the loby for Julio's arrival huffing and puffing with a false excuse and the look on his face was worth the wait!!!
(excuuuuuuse me!!!!)

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 10:03 pm:

Please (excuse) all of the TYPOS!!!!
I just was overwhelmed with emotion knowing that I was writing about the one, the only diva, ladeees and gents, MISS ROSS.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Promises Kept ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 10:43 pm:

Getting back to Mary, oooooooooooooouuuuuuu "A Heart Like Mine" is one of my most favourites! I remember buying the "Floy Joy" LP and not really recognizing if Mary was pictured or not......then a whole solo track from her! I was PRIZE that LP!

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 - 11:17 am:

Ten years ago Mary Wilson stopped by the HMV Record Store I was managing here in NYC and she was indeed a gem. She had released a solo album at the time (which is now out of print)and was out touring music retail promoting it. Imagine this - a music legend AND A MEMBER OF THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME meeting & greeting retail staff to promote her own record. Believe me, my staff & I made darn sure we stocked & sold her CD!

Mary was so gracious and signed autographs for everyone in the store (I had the pleasure of giving her the tour of the store - her arm in mine. What luck!). Mary later sent me a thank-you post card from Las Vegas. She was (and still is)gorgeous and charming - hell, I'd marry her in a heartbeat but I'm afraid I'm too young for her (I was born the year "You Keep Me Hanging On" was #1).

Anyway, I saw her at the Apollo/SITSOM gig and she signed a poster insert of an artist's portrait of Mary (from the original 2-record set of the Supremes' Greatest Hits). She is indeed a wonderful woman and I feel honored to have met her.

Kevin "KevGo" Goins

Top of pageBottom of page   By Common ( on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 - 11:39 am:

Hello everyone,

KevGo: Wow, That's a great story! Mary sounds like a real cool & gracious person. There are several Mary songs that are my absolute favorites: "I Love A Warm Summer Night", "I Keep It Hid", "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" w/Eddie Kendricks, "Touch" w/Jean & "Early Morning Love".


Top of pageBottom of page   By Lynn Bruce ( on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 - 03:07 pm:

On my thread in the archives past, I mentioned a story about the supremes auditioning to work a weekend gig with the group I was with at the time. I never knew or had seen them before rehearsal. Mary Wilson was the one that caught my eye, she was beautiful, next was Flo, and last was Diana, she was skinny with eyes that looked like she had a thyroid condition. They sang good but they didn't have a lot of good moves, so they just lasted the week-end. We liked them, but the club owner didn't,so that was that. Marys still as beautiful as ever and Diana still looks like she has a thyroid condition.


Top of pageBottom of page   By JoeR ( on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 - 03:11 pm:

I have to concur with most posters, Mary's voice is fantastic. I fell in love with her (oh and her voice) when I heard her sing with Eddie 'Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You'. She is still a doll too!


Top of pageBottom of page   By Common ( on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 - 04:06 pm:

LOL @ Lynn Bruce "thyroid condition"! Why do I get the feeling that Mz Ross is not a popular gal around these parts? LOLOL!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By cleoharvey ( on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 - 04:21 pm:

I started this thread to see what people thought of the lovely Miss Wilson's voice. There have been detractors over the years and I believe most of them have never heard her sing live. Mary has continued to grow as a solo vocalist. I fell in love with her when I heard her sing the medley Free Again/I Will Survive, it gave me chills. Also some time later when I saw her sing versions of How Lucky Can You Get from Funny Lady and Sting's Fields of Gold (which she sings in her present live act). She sings with a throaty soulfulness that can soar into a high note on a dime. Strangely, I believe that she is not at her best when she sings previously Diana led Supremes songs. The reason being that they were not written for her and were written for frankly, a more limited voice emotionally. Anyone who doubts Mary's prowess, take a listen to Early Morning Love from the 1975 album The Supremes (Scherrie, Mary, Cindy), it is just wonderful. I would love to hear one of the younger singers do a soulful, funky song with Miss Wilson and take her back to the top of the charts just to show everybody.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Promises Kept ( on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 - 05:33 pm:

Unfortunately, many fans go to her current shows to see an "original" Supreme, and Mary doesn't want to let them down by avoiding the Ross years. I'm sure she see's it as "keeping the legacy alive". But I do wish Mary would work some of the 70's material into her act. Especially now that the Anthology is out........she provided the voice for many of those tunes. Her current "act" is growing somewhat old as it hasn't changed much in 10 years. But, you know, Diana also has a "tired" show of the same tunes. Both artists have a vast catalog....too bad they don't make better use of it and keep the show continually fresh!

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Wednesday, December 04, 2002 - 11:32 am:

Promises & Cleo:
You both are right about Mary (and to some degree Miss Ross)not using a wider range of material for their live gigs. But let's keep in mind one thing...(I know, I know - here we go with one of KevGo's "sermons"...)
Mary & Diana are performing to the mainstream folks who are more comfortable hearing the Supremes' twelve number one Billboard pop hits than the stuff we die-hards enjoy. If they perform one song from the back catalog - like "Everybody Has The Right To Love" or "Precious Little Things" (b-side of "Automatically Sunshine")that may be okay. More than one of these tunes and the risk of audience tune-out becomes greater ("I don't know this song...I'll go get a drink and come back when I hear her sing 'Baby Love'"). I've produced many concerts and shows such as these and let's face it - the "Copacabana" theory still holds (the audience wants the hits and nothing but the hits). Like you said, Cleo - maybe with the Supremes 70s anthology being available Mary Wilson could incorporate some of those tunes in her act. We'll have to wait & see.
Best regards,
Kevin "KevGo" Goins

Top of pageBottom of page   By cleoharvey ( on Wednesday, December 04, 2002 - 01:02 pm:


You are right, and I know it. Fans are even willing to pay for ANYONE to sing the Supremes hits (which irks Mary). I was in Switzerland a couple of years ago and saw The Supremes adverstised in a Geneva newspaper. I was a bit mystified because Former Ladies of the Supremes were not touring, and Mary was in Las Vegas. I thought it might be Kaaren Ragland's group Sounds of the Supremes, but since the lawsuits Miss Ragland, has made sure that advertising states Sounds of the Supremes. I went to a small club and out walked three ladies who may have never even owned a Supremes record. They were late 20's to mid 30's, dressed like hookers, and did a horrible show. The crowd ate it up but I was extremely unhappy and made my irritation know to the powers that be. Mary has spent a fortune trying to stop these bogus groups but has not had a great deal of success because she does not own the name. Motown owns the name and seems to not care as much as Mary does. It is a tribute to Miss Wilson's personality that even though she has sued Jean Terrell, and Scherrie Payne in the past because of their involvement with FLOS, she remains quite friendly with them (especially Scherrie, whom everyone likes). The one that Mary does not like is Lynda Laurence. I believe that Mary would have shown up at the 70's Supreme Anthology CD signing at the Arclight on November 8th, had not Lynda been in attendance. By the way, Cindy Birdsong looked great!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Wednesday, December 04, 2002 - 06:22 pm:

Some food for thought...
Maybe if Mary Wilson did perform a few obscure Supremes tracks in her show, it would throw these imitators and perpetrators off the track. I'll bet money that the fans will see that with Mary they're getting the real deal.
Kevin Goins - "KevGo"

Top of pageBottom of page   By Promises Kept ( on Wednesday, December 04, 2002 - 06:49 pm:

Mary really needs to promote this Anthology which is a huge release on her voice! It can only help her "Legacy" cause, plus spark more book sales for her, Supremes music sales (she still receives royalties), her concert exposure, and interest in her supposedly upcoming studio album. I sure hope that it wasn't Lynda that kept Mary away from the "signing"..........Mary is WAY over Lynda's meaning to the Supremes and just plain the Industry as a whole! Come On the smart thing for a change, NOT the sexy thing! LOL

Top of pageBottom of page   By Cleoharvey ( on Thursday, December 05, 2002 - 12:09 pm:

Promised Kept


Mary is the real deal when she walks on stage. Although she has put on weight (who hasn't) she is still gloriously beautiful and still gracious and nice to her fans. I am always taken with her survival. Many other"background" girls have disappeared in a morass of drugs, bad management, relationships and so on... Mary is like the proverbial energizer bunny and just keeps on ticking. Just think of it, she has written 2 books, one a New York Times Best Seller (over 500,000 copies sold to date and the most successful of the Motown biographies), graduated NY University (how many former Motowners can say that), and still has the ear of the media. I have always believed that Mary's continual presence on the scene, actually irks Diane. It proves that it was the "three" ladies who created the legend. This is not to knock Diane but even today, when three ladies dress in gowns they are called Supreme like, not Diana like. My hope for her is that some young hot singer does as duet with her and puts her back at the top of the charts. Then she can truly sing her magnificent version for "Free Again/I Will Survive" with special meaning.
All the Best

Top of pageBottom of page   By Vickie ( on Thursday, December 05, 2002 - 12:12 pm:


I love that "Supreme Like"
You are so right!!!!


Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Thursday, December 05, 2002 - 02:12 pm:

For many years I've long admired the strides Mary has made in her career and life outside of being a Supreme (I still have the postcard she sent me from Las Vegas). She has indeed achieved much in the face of success and adversity. Mary should be recording and definitely supporting the recent reissues Motown & Harry Weinger are releasing. She will be at NYC's B.B. King Club after the first of the year & I will be enjoying her performance from the front row.
Best regards,
Kevin Goins - "KevGo"

Top of pageBottom of page   By Greg C. ( on Friday, December 06, 2002 - 04:32 pm:


I agree 100% with you about Mary's voice. Her co-lead with Scherrie Payne on "Sweet Dream Machine" from the "Mary, Scherrie, and Susaye" LP showed that the lady had arrived, had the pipes, and could carry a song. It's a shame that was the last Supremes album. That threesome had a wealth of potential!

Her lead on "Come And Get These Memories" on the "Supremes A Go Go" LP was stellar as well. I KNOW the politics at Motown had a lot to do with her being relegated to the background.

Top of pageBottom of page   By cleoharvey ( on Friday, December 06, 2002 - 05:06 pm:


Although a huge Supremes fan, I was one of the people who early on said that maybe Mary didn't have the chops. The only thing that they let her do live was "Can't Take My Eyes of You." But when Diana left and Jean, Mary, & Cindy were together, I went to the Copa in New York City and heard them do a version of "The Way We Were with Mary singing lead. It was stunning! There were gorgeous three-part harmonies and Mary's voice soaring over the other two. When she got to the end and sang "so it's the laughter, we will remember, whenever we remember," she hit a high note that sent shivers down my spine and at the end there was a standing ovation. I was delighted but also mad because that voice had not been given an outlet in the years before.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Clay ( on Monday, December 09, 2002 - 10:02 pm:

Mary Wilson
Is one Classy lady and a good friend of mine for a number of years. Mary never got the support or recording sessions like Ms Ross and because of this, I don't feel she had an opportunity to really develope as a solo recording artist. I like Mary's voice and with the proper production and the right material she could easily make some BIG noise. I recorded a demo on Mary last year,but we never completed it due to her tight performing schedule. I would like to finish the work in the near future. Peace

Top of pageBottom of page   By Promises Kept ( on Monday, December 09, 2002 - 10:46 pm:

Does Mary have a Label?..........thanks!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Clay ( on Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - 05:39 pm:

There are not many artist past the age of 32 that have a label deal. And what's crazy is that it seems
it only like that with Black music. AC-DC just re-signed with Sony. A lot of Country acts are well into their 50's> And the Jazz acts have always been
Adults LOL. I wonder why a 34yr old Johnny Gill is being told he's too old to sign??????????? To answer
your question NO!!! I don't think Mary has a label deal. Peace

Top of pageBottom of page   By 1wicked ( on Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - 06:56 pm:

It's really a shame that so many viable artists can't get signed because of age, weight, or lack of knowledge and/or guts (on the part of the labels). To the best of my knowledge Peabo Bryson, Vesta Williams, James Ingram, and Maze (among others) are unsigned....and still have a lot of music in them.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Sue ( on Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - 06:59 pm:

Actually Clay ...

The pop field is also increasingly littered with label-less, or shopping for smaller labels middle-aged folks. I can't believe that Warner Bros. released Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders, but they did.

Part of the problem is radio, who plays artists like that now? Only their older stuff, on oldies radio.

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - 07:03 pm:

You're right about radio but I'm not gonna touch that one because I'll just ramble on until you tell me to shut up.

Fortunately, Artemis Records picked up the Pretenders but they are the lucky ones I guess.

I know that CMC and MCA were at one time very receptive to having older artists on their rosters but I'm not sure if they are anymore.

Kevin Goins "KevGo"

Top of pageBottom of page   By Marv ( on Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - 09:17 pm:

First let me say that I am probably Mary Wilson's biggest fan (with or without the Supremes). Mary has proven over the years that she is a winner in every sense of the word. Her beauty is legendary and her performing talents are still talked about some nearly 40 years into the game! It always amazes me how good she sounds today and how little opportunity Motown gave her to shine back in the day. Thanks Mary. "God Bless Whoever Sent You"!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By IAskQuestions ( on Thursday, December 12, 2002 - 02:12 pm:

Why didn't Mary ask for more leads?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Randy Russi ( on Thursday, December 12, 2002 - 02:43 pm:

I really like Mary's voice and have seen her
perform many times with the original Supremes,
later lineups, and, more recently, solo.
She has a good show and I really enjoyed her
last recording called "Walk The Line". Clay is
right-on in his assessment of Mary!

Top of pageBottom of page   By cleoharvey ( on Friday, December 13, 2002 - 12:01 pm:

I Ask the Question:

According to Mary, she did make it known that she would like to do more leads. However, Motown felt that she did not have a "commercial" sound. Besides look where it got Florence, who also had a great voice (almost gospelish) and was very vocal about her continual placement in the background. I went to the Copa and heard Florence lead a fabulous version of "People." During that engagement the Supremes at the Copa was recorded. I was sure that Florence's lead would be on it. When it was later released, everything I heard at the Copa was there except for People. Years later we found out that Diana had thrown a tantrum and the song was excised from the show and from the eventual release of the live album. So, I am not sure how far Mary would have gotten.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Promises Kept ( on Friday, December 13, 2002 - 12:37 pm:

It seems to me that Mary was very good at wanting her Supremes career to last as long as possible in that she acted as a real team player until the group was really coming apart. I always wonder how long the Supremes would have continued if Mary hadn't left....the talent was there, the records being recorded, dance hits made, and a label to which the Group was signed. The trio was tired, but the alternative (of disbanding)sure didn't prove fruitfull. And perhaps even a number one record for the group at this time might have just made matters worse in the long run. But I still "wished" for another Supremes record, or two!

Top of pageBottom of page   By R&B ( on Friday, December 13, 2002 - 12:40 pm:


Top of pageBottom of page   By IAskQuestions ( on Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 08:19 am:

Florence and Mary are two different persons
though, each with their own circumstances.
My question is was Mary assertive in obtaining

Top of pageBottom of page   By cleoharvey ( on Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 11:54 am:


I detect in your question that you may already have an opinion. Basically that Mary was not "assertive" in seeking leads and therefore should not carp later. There are many Diana Ros fans who feel this way. I am not sure what assertive in the 60's meant. Since Florence was booted out of the group for "creating" problems, Mary made have had a survival quotient and not stood on a soapbox and made waves. Mary says that she did "ask" for leads, what that means only she and the people she were speaking to know. I take her at her word, you may not. However, from anecdotes, books, and liner notes (eg Frank Wilson), it is known that several producers thought she had the chops and presented those opinions to Motown. They were obviously rejected. Luckily the anthologies have some of the cuts that were produced on Mary and the world can make their own judgement.
Seasons Greetings

Top of pageBottom of page   By Promises Kept ( on Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 12:17 pm:

Mary was smart enough to know that her voice had to appeal to the masses if records were going to generate serious sales. An ocassional lead for her was just fine. Mary even states in the Anthology booklet that the song "Touch" was written for her and she only recently found that out, so I still maintain that Mary tried to do what was best for the group in the vocal department as well. These songs; "Touch" & "FloyJoy", are really duets with her and Jean. I know of no "hit" records with Mary as the sole lead voice. In Mary's books she never speaks as though she was sorry for not having a Supreme hit with just herself singing. She just LOVED being a Supreme!

Top of pageBottom of page   By FYI ( on Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 01:40 pm:

Berry kicked Flo out the Supremes because she started missing gigs and not because she harped about not singing lead.

Otis Williams kicked David Ruffin out the Tempts and later Dennis Edwards on several occasions for the same reason. It didn't look right to have two Supremes performing or the Temptations performing without their dominant lead singer; plus, the promoters cut their pay when this occured.

Top of pageBottom of page   By IAskQuestions ( on Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 02:53 am:

I don't have an opinion. I've read Mary's
interviews, books, etc. and haven't found much
of answer. This is why I ask. :)
My question didn't have anything to do with
Florence and Diana though, since they're not
Mary Wilson and certainly not in the same
Cheers :)

Top of pageBottom of page   By cleoharvey ( on Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 09:51 am:


I have been friends with Mary for some years and some of what I say is based on conversatiions we have had. To her credit, she does not dwell on this question and is more interested in surviving now. The Return to Love tour ignited a lot of debate that had been dormant for a while. The thing that people may not know is that Mary actually loves Diane (as Mary refers to her). In conversation, Mary Wilson becomes angry if anything negative or nasty is said about Diana. I found this out in spades when one day I made a comment about how Mary was "shoved" by Diana during during the Motown 25th Anniversay. Mary became upset and said "I don't think Diane meant it. You don't understand her. She has a lot going on! No one understands her like I do!" It was then I understood that no matter the books written, or what fans say, or the media, there is a bond between these women. And I never said anything remotely negative against Diana in Mary's presence. There is simply too much that only the particpants in the conflict are aware if that we do not know.

The wonderful thing is that after all these years the ladies are still the topic of conversation. It illustrates the profound effect that they had on music and the American psyche. It is an incredible legacy, like no other besides the Beatles.

Top of pageBottom of page   By John R. ( on Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 02:47 pm:


You're right on point. Mary will not allow anyone to speak ill of Diana in her presence. I've had the pleasure of speaking with Mary backstage after many of her performances. Not too long ago, someone made a negative comment about Diana in Mary's dressing room after a show, and Mary quickly responded, "sorry, but there will be no Diana bashing in here."

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 03:33 pm:

Mary is a super "CLASS ACT." She was always great with the engineers and musicians and treated us wonderfully.

About two years ago I was in Louisville, Ky on a job for a Catholic Organization doing a seminar at the Galt House. I was eating breakfast with a bunch of Catholic media people, bishops and priests including Fr. John Hardon, who was Mother Theresa's spiritual director.

One of Media people and his wife in the group said their kids had been to a Mary Wilson concert the night before. They commented what great entertainment it was. One of the people in the group announced that I was a former Motown engineer and I was telling some Motown stories to the group.

What we didn't realize is that Mary was sitting right behind us. She turned around, looked at me and said "Hello Wolfie." After over 30 years, Mary still remembered us "GRUNT" engineers.

She and her group ended up joining our group for breakfast and we had a wonderful time.

Again, Mary is and has always been a class act!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Lynn Bruce ( on Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 06:26 pm:

ED,what a nice story!! Enjoy that raspberry lambic and give that great little dog a hug and Christmas treat for me.

Merry Christmas

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 12:29 pm:

You mentioned why Flo Ballard was kicked out of the Supremes but can we focus as to why she was even missing their gigs in the first place.

Flo had an alcohol problem which stemmed from being "back-burner-ed" many times when it came to her singing lead (the "People" incident at the Copa was a sad example)and the divisiveness created by Miss Ross. Bottom line - she was a victim of one man's decision to have a more "commercial" singer take the lead and that lead singer acting out jealousies/insecurities (no wonder Miss Ross is in rehab).

Some folks are able to handle such adversities, others haven't. Flo was a tragic example of the latter and a symbol for us in the music industry to make damn sure this doesn't happen ever again to anyone.

Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By Common ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 12:50 pm:

Hello everyone,

KevGo: I would like to add to part of the other reason why Flo started drinking. As mentioned in Mary's book, Flo was raped by an acquaintance. I think the rape had a devasting effect on Flo psychologically, not to mentioned her feeling that she was being used to further Diana's career. Indirectly, I definitely think the assault was also a part of her turning to alcohol.


Top of pageBottom of page   By F.Y.I. ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 01:42 pm:

Bottomline: despite Flo's personal problems she was booted because she was M.I.A. too many times and not directly because of the personal problem or any personality quirks. Most talented people have a lot of "jerk" in them but until the monies are affected it's dealt with.

A member of En Vogue was too shown the door when she wanted to chill a bit from Destiny's Child ruthless schedule.

Many alcoholics and drug addicted people are able to work 9 to 5's and other endeavors without missing a beat and without co-workers knowing of the addiction. Flo, and some others couldn't.

Missing gigs is the express way of getting kicked out of a popular group, or if a solo act, blackballed by promoters.

Whether you're a drug or alcohol addict is secondary. Some popular singers actually get paid in cocaine by promoters cause that's what they use their pay for anyway.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Gabriele ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 02:24 pm: friend Mary,I love her!!!

great talent and never self-centered to me is Mary .
the Supremes was successful because there was 3 wonderful singers and each one could have been leader...

Top of pageBottom of page   By Common ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 02:24 pm:

Hello everyone,

The bottom line for me is that if you already had some of type of "trauma" or any other "baggage", they are only compounded once the "fame" kicks in. "Fame" doesn't take away whatever is hurting a person, it just adds to already painful situation. The public sometimes puts undue pressure on a performer to be perfect at all times. When they "crack", we are ready to burn them at the stake. I find it hard to dismiss that her prior assault didn't have any influence on her problems during the Supremes heyday. Fame & fortune doesn't necessarily make a happy person. JMHO.


Top of pageBottom of page   By cleoharvey ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 03:27 pm:


Before we get to carried away, Florence was not a sloppy drunk. Mary has always said that Floreince had an inability to drink at all. If she had more than one drink, it affected her. It was very much a chemical thing. She simply could not drink. Revisionsim has made Florence appear to be an alchoholic who could not make engagements, and therefore had to be replaced. The amount of performances she missed as a result of drinking was minimal. Her drinking and missed performances increased with the advent of more and more problems with Diana and Berry Gordy. She was not one to sit back and say nothing at all. She was not the "quiet" one. As Diana was being pushed more and more forward, Florence started to not be able to deal with the wall that developed and drank more. Maybe the thing to do was to help her rather than kick her out of the institution she had helped create. Cindy Birdsong was being groomed as her successor way before she was confronted with her "problem," and before she was booted out of the group because "she wanted to raise a family."

The truth is we all do not know the actual inner workings. No one really knows but the people involved and those people who were close to them at the time. We are discussing in hindsight. My objection is to the assertion that the only reason she was relieved of her duties was she drank. It is far more complex than that. To state otherwise is to ignore the workings of the group from the beginning, to when it became Diana Ross and the Supremes, and the eventual solo debut of La Ross.

After saying all that (LOL!!!), I want to say that I love this forum and the discussions. I wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season and a Blessed New Year!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Nish ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 03:53 pm:

Common - Tell It! :-)

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 03:54 pm:

Thank you, Common, for putting into perspective what I was trying to say.

First of all, you mentioned two groups in one sentence (En Vogue & Destiny's Child). If I may:

- Dawn Robinson was forced out of En Vogue because she refused to sign a bad contract with WEA that would've granted the group a very low advance against royalties while their producers would've reaped the profits. She also left Lucy Pearl for similar reasons.
- Three members of Destiny's Child left because they didn't agree with Matthew Knowles' direction for the group.

For every problem there is a root. That does not make the person a "jerk" - just someone who has deep-rooted issues.

Show me a person who can hold any profession while being addicted to drugs and I'll show you a time bomb ready to blow. Case in point - Ray Charles. He was addicted to heroin for years but he never missed a gig , recording session or tv appearance. But when law enforcement caught on & started busting him, he knew he couldn't run & hide from his problems. When he finally quit drugs, it was the result of a judge giving him an either/or proposition (clean up or go to jail for a mighty long time). On a personal note, I have a relative who has been in broadcasting for years yet cannot hold a position for a long time because he has a 20-year cocaine addiction. Yet I know that his problem is rooted in his not coming to grips with his horrific experiences as a Vietnam war veteran.

As a record (& former radio) executive for 20 years who has worked with many artists (ane other executives) who have overcome such adversities, I know that the cold approach you, FYI, have shown is not the answer. There is a lot more sympathy today for folks who have these problems because society has changed & realized that people need help, not a smackdown. That's why organizations such as MAP (Musicians Assistance Program) and MusiCares exist.

A little heart can go a long way.


Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 03:59 pm:

Thanks for the perspective. The soapbox has now been retired! :)
Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By cleoharvey ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 04:45 pm:


LOL!!!! Lord knows, I need to get down from MY soapbox! LOL!!

All the best to you my friend.

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit0 ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 05:06 pm:

I was knocked off my feet when I heard Mary sing other than a Supremes' song. I was in awe.

Top of pageBottom of page   By F.Y.I. ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 05:31 pm:

I didn't attempt to smack down anybody I simply stated that Flo was booted from the Supremes because she missed gigs. You, KevGo brought up her alcohol problem. I wasn't dealing with what caused her to miss gigs only that she did and that it was unacceptable.

More people are addicted to alcohol and drugs then you think and many of them hold regular jobs, pay their rent or mortgages, have families, etc.

The drug industry have far more affluent clients than the visible skinny crackhead and the $5 strawberry prostitute. If you eliminate the crackheads and the strawberries you'll still have a multi-billion dollar industry with a never ending suppy of clients.

Have a happy holiday!

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 05:51 pm:

As my Dad would say, you're preaching to the converted...
Best regards,
Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By Greg C. ( on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 11:51 pm:

I'm not going to make any waves here but I think folks need to look at the hard facts about the Florence/Diana/Berry situation. Berry Gordy and Diana Ross were intimately involved. A child, Rhonda, even came from that union. Ms. Ross had an inside track at that company that NO ONE else in that organization had. That's why things went her way. That is why she was despised by so many people at Motown.

I do not minimize her talent, she is a very gifted performer with a stellar career. Mary Wilson saw the writing on the wall and knew this was a no-win situation. Flo spoke and mind and paid dearly for it. That was the politics of Motown in those days.

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