It was 59 years ago today (April 7th, 1964) that the Supremes recorded their first chart topper, “Where Did Our Love Go.” As with many Supremes hits, “Where Did Our Love Go” was penned by the songwriting team of Eddie Holland, Brian Holland, and Lamont Dozier — but the song was not originally slated to be cut by the group. It was intended for the Marvelettes, who were having a lot more chart success at the time than the Supremes — or the “No-hit Supremes,” as they were jokingly referred to in the early days of Motown.
“Where Did Our Love Go” was originally written for Mary Wells, who had just left Motown in a contract dispute, and was partially recorded in a lower vocal register by the Marvelettes. Lead singer Gladys Horton didn't care for “Where Did Our Love Go” and rejected it outright. It was then offered to the Supremes who had no choice but to accept the tune and record it.
The late-Mary Wilson told us that the Supremes were such a low priority at Motown in the early days that their material was entirely decided by label chief Berry Gordy Jr. and the songwriters. Wilson recalled how anxious the Supremes were to have a hit: “Y'know, we were still very young and we wanted hit records like Martha & the Vandellas and the Marvelettes because they were the ones having the hits. And I must add that we were the Supremes — we're the first female group there — so by these other girl groups coming in and getting hits, y'know, we were really desperate in terms of wanting one.”
Wilson admitted that the group's first impression of “Where Did Our Love Go” was that it was a stiff: “We hated the record, okay? So we didn't know very much about what made a hit. All we knew was we had had 10 records out prior to that, most of them written by Smokey Robinson — which were adorable songs — but when Berry Gordy put us with the writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, that's when our hits started.”
Eddie Holland told us that the key to all of the trio's greatest Motown hits came straight from the piano: “That was always the key to trigger off something; A riff on the piano, melody and ideas flowing. (And they'd say) 'Oh I like this. Ed go cut it, here's the idea, here's the track — write this.”
On August 22nd, 1964 the Supremes' “Where Did Our Love Go” knocked Dean Martin's “Everybody Loves Somebody” out of the Number One spot, and went on to top the charts for two weeks.
The song became their first of five consecutive Number One hits which went on to include “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In The Name Of Love,” and “Back In My Arms Again.”