Thursday, November 20, 2014

Diana Ross, The #50 Artist of the Seventies*

Ross of course rose to stardom as a member of the Supremes, The #6 Female Artist of the Rock Era*.  We want to mention that the success with the Supremes does not factor at all into this ranking, because it was all prior to the time the Seventies rolled around.

As early as 1968, Ross was already performing as a solo artist on television specials, including even the Supremes' own TCB and G.I.T. on Broadway.  By the following year, Motown boss Berry Gordy had decided that Ross should begin her solo career by the end of the year, so Diana began recording her initial songs.  In November, Diana publicly announced that she was leaving the group.  Her first single ("Someday We'll Be Together") was instead released as a Supremes song and became the group's final #1 song.

Ross released her eponymous debut album in 1970, which included "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)".  While it went to #7 on the R&B chart, success was contained there.  But Diana had a great remake of the Marvin Gaye-Tammi Terrell duet lined up.  She released the single "Ain't No Mountain High Enough".  It went to #1 in the United States and #6 in the U.K.

Ross was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Ain't No Mountain High Enough".  Her second album, Everything Is Everything, faltered however.

So Ms. Ross came back with the album Surrender in 1971.  The lead single, "Remember Me", hit #7 in the U.K.,  #9 in Canada, and #16 in the U.S.

Diana starred in her first television special, Diana! in 1971.  The following year, she starred in the movie Lady Sings the Blues, based on the life of Billie Holliday, and the soundtrack went on to reach #1 on the Album chart and sell over two million copies.  Ross captured Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for her role in the movie.

In 1973, Ross released the album Touch Me in the Morning.  The title song hit #1 in the United States, #5 in Australia, #6 in Canada and #9 in the U.K.

Ross then hooked up with another superstar, Marvin Gaye, for the duet album Diana & Marvin.  The single "You're A Special Part of Me" landed at #4 on the R&B chart and #12 overall.

Ross toured throughout the world and became the first entertainer in the history of Japan to receive an invitation to the Imperial Palace to perform before Empress Nagako, wife of Emperor Hirohito.

In 1974, Ross released the album Last Time I Saw Him, with the title song as the first single.  The song blasted up to #1 on the Adult chart and #15 overall.

Diana starred in the movie Mahogany, receiving great reviews for her performance.  The song was even better, going to #1 in the United States, #2 in Ireland, #4 in Canada and the Netherlands, and #5 in the U.K.

Ross then plucked another single from her work with Gaye, releasing "My Mistake (Was To Love You), a #15 R&B hit.

In 1976, Ross released her self-titled album, which contained the Disco smash "Love Hangover", #1 Popular, #1 R&B, and #1 Dance, and #1 in Ireland.


The concert special An Evening with Diana Ross gave Ross a Tony Award.  The album Baby It's Me gave Ross another hit as "Gettin' Ready For Love" reached #8 on the Adult chart.
Ross scored another Adult Contemporary hit as "You Got It" went to #9.

In 1977, Ross starred in the movie version of the Broadway play The Wiz.

Diana released the albums Ross and The Boss later in the decade before rebounding in 1980 for another great decade.  She's one of the great talents of our lifetime, both with the Supremes and as a solo artist.

From the RIAA certifications, Ross sold over nine million albums in the U.S. alone, though we know that Motown rarely has their sales records audited, and the figure is much higher than that.  Diana scored 23 hits in the decade; four landed in the Top 10 and all four were huge #1 songs.

In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records cited Ross as the most successful female artist in history, chalking up 70 hit songs for her work with the Supremes and as a solo performer.  By the end of the millennium, Billboard named Ross the Female Entertainer of the Year.  

In 2007, Ross was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, and she received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

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