With the success of “Baby Love,” the Supremes became the first artist from Motown to have two number one songs. This was the second of five consecutive number ones for the Supremes. Let’s look a little closer at how the Supremes came to be. I explained earlier that they grew up in Detroit and started out calling themselves the Primettes. This name comes because they were a sister group to the all-male group called the Primes. The Primes was made up of three guys from Alabama who had come to Detroit to make it big. Those guys were Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and Cal Osbourne. Two of those guys (Williams and Kendricks) would later become part of the Temptations, one of the biggest groups to sing on the Motown label.
The Primes actually went looking for a group of girls that could be their “sister” group and put together the Primettes with Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Betty Travis and, since girl groups needed four members, they talked Diana Ross into joining. Diana had to ask her parents for permission to join the group. That’s how young these girls were. After spending some late nights rehearsing, Betty Travis’ mother decided she shouldn’t be in the group and, so, Betty dropped out leaving the other three. She was replaced by Barbara Martin, but soon, the group got in the way of grades (they were all in high school,) and Barbara and Florence had to drop out, temporarily.
Diana and Mary functioned as a duo until Florence and Barbara could come back and then, as a quartet, Diana asked a neighbor of hers, Smokey Robinson, if he would introduce them to Berry Gordy of Motown. Surprisingly, Gordy wasn’t that impressed with the Primettes. He liked them, but thought they were too young to be recording stars. He had them hang around for months before he finally decided to sign them to Motown. That’s when he changed their name. Barbara Martin left the group before they had their first big hit, leaving the Supremes to carry on as a trio.
“Baby Love” was written as their first hit was, by Holland-Dozier-Holland, the ace writing team for Motown. It was written especially to sound like their first hit, “Where Did Our Love Go.” If the public noticed they didn’t mind as the song went right to the top. The foot stomps you hear during the song were done by Mike Valvano.
“Baby Love” debuted on the pop chart on October 10, 1964 and spent four weeks at number one, becoming one of the biggest songs of 1964.