The reign of the Supremes continued as they had their fourth number one in a row. No other group had ever done that before, not even the Beatles. (The Beatles would do just that a few months later in 1965.) The song was written by the Motown writing team Holland-Dozier-Holland and is reported to come from an argument Lamont Dozier had with his wife. They were in his house and fighting about something, when Lamont suddenly got tired of it all and yelled, “Stop in the name of love.”) The line took them both by surprise and they started laughing. The fight was over, and Lamont had an idea for a song.
Lamont went to the office, got together with his partners and wrote the song. The Supremes recorded it on January 5, 1965, just before they were to go on tour to England. This was the first tour of Motown singers that toured in Europe and maybe the last. It was called the Motortown Revue. It featured the Supremes (they were the headliners,) Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas, and while the Temptations were not listed on the bill, at least two of them were there.
In the dressing room, in London, right before the first concert, it was decided that the Supremes needed some choreography to match the song. Paul Williams and Melvin Franklin of the Temptations got together with the girls and taught them the move which is now famous in the music world. When the Supremes sing “Stop! in the Name of Love,” they hold their hand out like a traffic cop stopping traffic. It was a move that the Supremes used the rest of their career.
Some say that the three girls were getting tired of each other about this time. Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard were, I think, a little resentful that Diana Ross was the lead singer every time. The girls were fighting among themselves as they flew to Europe and by the time the tour was under way, they were barely speaking to each other. But, the show must go on and no one could tell it by just listening to them sing.
You could not call the Motortown Revue a success. Most of the concerts were less than half sold. I don’t think they appreciated the sound of Motown in Europe. While I can’t say for sure, I can find no evidence that the Motortown Revue ever came back to Europe.
“Stop! in the Name of Love” was nominated for a Grammy in 1966 for Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Group Vocal Performance, but lost to the Statler Brothers (who, ironically enough, are country, not rock and roll). Billboard Magazine had placed the song at number 38 on their list of the 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.
“Stop! in the Name of Love” entered the pop charts on March 6, 1965 and spent two weeks at number one.