Mary Wilson, Diane Ross, Florence Ballard, and Barbara Martin grew up in the poverty stricken Brewster Housing Projects of Detroit. But they were primed for success, — “made ready or prepared from the first,” thanks to the Latin prime, “first” which also helped make them into the Primettes, sister group of the Primes.
The Primes went on to become the Temptations. Mary left to get married, Diane became Diana, and with the other two created the Supremes, from the Latin super, placing them head and shoulders above the rest.
Their supreme accomplishment came in October of 1966 when they became the first female vocal group to top the LP charts. Anybody remember LPs?
The Supremes was a tough act to follow, “a performance so outstanding, no one could hope to meet or exceed it” — a standard set in the early days of vaudeville, when the best act was traditionally saved for last. The Supremes were the best, la crème de la crème — a French expression from the mid 19th century, long before our tastes became homogeneous both in milk and the arts, the cream long since having been skimmed off both.
Oh for the days when they reigned Sup.