This is the first comprehensive biography of the most successful girl group in pop history, as told by the author of the acclaimed biography of Phil Spector, "He's a Rebel".A sprawling parable of ambition, scheming, money, sex, and betrayal, "Nothin' But Heartaches", is the definitive story of the most successful female band of all time. Drawing on first-hand, intimate recollections by friends, associates, and other Motown contemporaries - many never before interviewed - Ribowsky uncovers the truth behind the Supremes, overturning false notions about the band which were perpetuated by the recent film "Dreamgirls".Ribowsky's in-depth account includes new details on Diana Ross' cutthroat rise to top-billing of the group - focusing on her relationship with Motown president, Berry Gordy - and the tragic story of Florence Ballard's decline into depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse, culminating in her sudden death at the age of thirty-two.He also takes an inside-the-studio look at how timeless classics like "Baby Love", "Where Did Our Love Go?", and "Stop!
In the Name of Love", were conceived and recorded on the Motown 'assembly line' of smash hits, and examines why the Motown 'brand' was more important to Gordy than its loyalty to true rhythm & blues.In a narrative that deftly combines personal testimony, history, and expert analysis, Ribowsky not only tells the full, heartbreaking story of the Supremes' meteoric rise and bitter disintegration, but shows why Gordy's revolutionary concept of 'blacks singing white' was essential to the modern evolution of music.
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(235mm x 156mm x 43mm)
Da Capo Press Inc
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Acrid biography of the biggest female vocal group of all time.Ribowsky (Josh Gibson: The Power and the Darkness, 2004, etc.) dredges up all the muck he can find on Motown Records' hit-making trio, who tallied a dozen No. 1 pop-soul singles from 1964 through Diana Ross' departure for a solo career in 1969. The outline will be familiar to readers of past memoirs by Ross, member Mary Wilson and Motown founder Berry Gordy, which the writer pillages extensively while castigating their lack of candor. Founded in Detroit's Brewster-Douglass projects by teenager Florence Ballard as a quartet originally known as the Primettes, the group was nurtured to international stardom, after several flop singles, by self-made music mogul Gordy. The label chief was severely smitten with the skinny, purring Ross, a turbine of selfish ambition who enjoyed short-lived affairs with Gordy's adjutant Smokey Robinson and songwriter Brian Holland before taking up with her long-lusting boss after she hit pay dirt. Readers looking for another Dreamgirls should look elsewhere - no one escapes unscathed in this scabrous tome. Ross predictably emerges as an imperious, spotlight-hogging diva; Wilson is depicted as man-hungry, disloyal and timorous; the tragic Ballard, who died at 32 in 1976 after her brutal expulsion from the act she formed, is portrayed as a self-destructive, alcoholic loose cannon. Gordy hovers above the action as a deceitful, iron-fisted coveter of white-bread mainstream success who coldly robbed even his top act. Ribowsky, who relies heavily on secondary sources and testimony from disaffected members of the Motown "family," excessively magnifies and explicates each torturous incident in the Supremes' story. The author is also prone to five-dollar verbiage, frequently obvious flights of dim analysis and thudding attempts at cleverness.Overwritten and overtly sensational. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Mark Ribowsky
Mark Ribowsky is a prolific author and regular contributor to Playboy Magazine. His eight books have covered a remarkably eclectic range of topics-from music and sport to pop culture and true-crime. He is the acclaimed author of He's a Rebel, a biography of Phil Spector, and Don't Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball. He lives in New York, where he is working on an updated edition of his Phil Spector biography.